I’ll admit that I can become disgruntled with the every increasing commercialisation and misrepresentation of yoga. The need for tight expensive activewear that creates anxiety before you’ve even stepped on to the mat for example. I’ve had people tell me how much they want to try yoga but they’re too scared to go to a class because they don’t look good (or good enough) in their activewear to go to a studio. I’ve also had prospective students say they are reluctant to try a class because they don’t want to be adjusted or touched & don’t feel comfortable saying that in class in case it draws attention to them. There is a false and quite frankly misleading view in some yoga disciplines that you should put up with all manner of things in a class, and that if you don’t you’re not ‘spiritual’ or not ‘growing’, not ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ or ‘pushing through’.
It is a gross breach of ethics, and power to use a practice such as yoga to ‘make’ people do or put up with things they are uncomfortable with. In relation to gruelling physical practices it’s really important to understand that the asanas were developed to help the body feel healthy, strong and supple so that yogis of every size and shape could sit comfortably to meditate without being distracted by niggling pains and/or internal discomfort. Asana was not meant to be a way to show off your body, outdo the person next to you, or post online to prove how ‘yoga’ you are.
Yoga is a discipline, not a religion, or a cult and you should never have to participate in any activity in or out of class that sets off your inner alarm bells. It is about developing a relationship with your self, a relationship that hopefully will lead to an increased sense of self acceptance for your amazing body that carries you through each day like a proud dutiful soldier. You may find a sense of self compassion that you never had before and perhaps, eventually, a knowing that underneath that choppy surface of whirling thoughts, emotions and expectations, you really are (I promise you) deeply and fundamentally ok- no matter what.
So please, find a yoga class that suits you, where your choices are respected (including the choice to not do some postures or not be touched) your questions are answered and your feedback is appreciated. Shop around, and remember that a really important part of yoga is being kind to yourself, and that begins with finding a class that ‘s right for you