Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Single Yogis (Put a Ring on It)

One time I tried a new yoga class with a new (to me) teacher. When I got there (10 minutes early, like a good yogi) I sat on my mat and the teacher immediately came by to quiz me. "Do you have any injuries? Are you new to yoga? What activities you do? Are you are ballerina? a circus performer? a hula hooper?" (I'm not making this up.)

I was (and still am) confused by her line of questioning. "I'm a yogi," I said.

"Oh, well, what kind of yoga do you practice, then?"

"Eh. I dabble. A little of this, a little of that."

"Oh..." her voice trailed off. "Well, one day you're going to want to commit to one style of yoga and one teacher, OK?"

I politely agreed. But deep inside (or maybe not so deep)the bratty child in me protested, "You're not the boss of me!" I didn't agree at all. I just don't understand why I'd want to limit myself to one perspective on such a vast practice. But maybe I'm missing something.

Commitment is a concept I've been pondering a lot lately. What does it mean to be committed to your yoga practice? a meditation practice? Should you commit to a teacher? a style of yoga? a studio? What does that mean anyway?

If I commit to Ashtanga, but attend an Anusara class does that make me a cheater? I joke about dating new yoga teachers until I find the one that I have chemistry with, but when I find my new yogifriend should I stop learning from others? A commitment to yoga is obviously not the same as a commitment in a relationship, but I still think it's important to show your commitment through your actions.

In our culture, we equate commitment with buying things. (I don't make the rules. If you don't like it, take it up with Beyonce.) The first thing we do when we decide to commit to our practice is buy a yoga mat. Perhaps the next step is to purchase a series of classes at a yoga studio (the more we buy the more committed we are!). Then, we might buy a book or subscribe to a yoga magazine. The holy grail of yoga commitment is enrolling in a teacher training. For me, writing that check felt like getting down on one knee and proposing.

Of course none of these things really has anything to do with commitment either. They're just gestures of good intentions. When it's all said and done we might know our practice and ourselves better, but that's really all we can hope for.

The whole point of the practice is to be happier, healthier, and more balanced. Sometimes I find more of those things by doing an asana practice, and sometimes I'd be better off to read a book. My commitment is to my own happiness and well-being, not a specific teacher or style of yoga. I'd put a ring on that.

This is for all you single yogis out there!

What are you committed to?