There’s an origin story that many yogis have: there was a first moment, a realization, a falling in love, a desire to shout from the rooftops: “Yoga saved me!”. For me and many others, it’s a fairy tale that begins with a lost soul and ends with being swept off our feet by the magic of this heroic practice. It’s true, too, yoga did rescue me: from anorexia, from anxiety, from social pressure, from fear, from all kinds of things. It still does.
As many of you already know, I am not what I would describe as a ‘sunshine and flowers’ yoga teacher. Listening to teachers talk about how wonderful all creation is and seeing inspirational (but philosophically empty) quotes on my Facebook newsfeed gives me an involuntary facial twitch some would call an eye-roll.
And this is not (necessarily anyway) because I am attached to my pain body or living in negativity. I don’t, I’m quite hopeful (most of the time) but I don’t like the expectation that if I practice yoga, I should be feeling sunshine and flowers all the time.
Having worked at a retreat center for the past few decades, I’ve become intimate with many gurus and their flocks. My conclusion is that the nature of every great teacher mirrors the dual structure of reality, as laid out in Sankhya, a yoga philosophy: There is spirit or consciousness (purusha) and there is nature (prakriti).