Yoga is everywhere. I cannot turn on the television or go to a movie without seeing something about yoga. It is popular in this day and time because people desperately need some peace. I found yoga during one of the most difficult times in my life and I thanked God in my prayers for leading me to a place where I felt like I would be loved and honored regardless of whether I was married or divorced or drank a glass of wine or not. I believe with every ounce of my soul that God wanted me to find peace and self love through yoga.
Yoga also helped me learn to accept, appreciate and love my body. I was body shamed by friends and family members as a child at first because I was too skinny and when I finally gained some weight because I was too fat. I was body shamed by a high school boyfriend who use to “Mooooo” like a cow at me at parties as loudly as he could after I broke up with him. I was body shamed in college as a dance major when the faculty sat me at the end of a long table to tell me to lose weight because my boobs and thighs were too big to be a dancer. After that I was body shamed as a professional cheerleader when I was told to place padding in my bra because I was too small chested to be sexy. I was body shamed when I was pregnant for being so big I “should be having twins”. There are probably a hundred other stories I could come up with, but I am not unlike every woman I know.
I do not and have not had a single female friend who has not at some time disliked parts of or all of their bodies. So not only does yoga give us some peace in a violent, cruel and divided world, but it also helps us all, men and women, to find some beauty in a body that is otherwise made to feel like it does not measure up to our world’s standards.
It is my belief that there are churches and church leaders out there who try to bully yoga because they fear they will lose people who have sought comfort in the church. Quite frankly we are more popular than them right now and they seem a little jealous. The thing they do not realize is that yogis and yoga teachers do not want to pull anyone away from anything. We simply want to offer people a safe space where they will not judge themselves, where they can accept themselves and where they can begin to feel connected. This connection can be with body, breath, health, thoughts, prayers and God. It is the person’s choice in how they live their lives, what thoughts they want to hold onto and let go of and what religion or higher power connection they would like to practice. We are not in the business of trying to save souls, we are in the business of providing loving comfort to those living on this earth. We are not competing with preachers, but many of them see themselves in competition with us or they would not constantly attack us and a 5000 year old language on their Facebook pages. But we do not have to compete because we can both win when we let peace and stillness bring us closer to God.
A local preacher in my small town recently went on one of those attacks. First letting all of us uneducated yogis and his yoga-going church followers know that the “real” translation of the word Namaste is “Bowing to THE GOD IN you. #bigdifference”. Since Sanskrit is an ancient language that is no longer spoken in any cultures except the yoga studio ones, it comes across pretty arrogant to think someone who’s never studied the practice or the language is telling us the actual translation. The translation I was taught in yoga teacher training was this:
I honor the place in you where the whole universe dwells.
A place of love, of truth, of light and of peace.
When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.
If you would like to put that in your own words or make any changes to make it agree with your belief system, I am totally down with that. I say the word at the end of a yoga practice and look each person in the eye as a form of respect for letting me search for some peace without judgment next to you. It is sad to me that people who love God and want to share God’s love look for reasons to separate God’s people for attention and Facebook likes.
But actually, that is not even why I’m here writing. I’m writing because his next Facebook comment said that we may never agree on yoga and namaste, but we should all agree that some people should never wear yoga pants. WHAT???!!!! So if our local preachers cannot get people to stop coming to yoga in fear they will go to hell, they decide to shame them about how they look in the attire for the practice to really hit ’em where it hurts. If eternity doesn’t scare you, the fear of being mocked by your pastor for having a large rear end or because your thighs rub together sure will.
As for me, I do not want to be manipulated into doing, wearing, attending or loving anything. God speaks directly to me, the way He does to everyone else who gets still and quiet enough to listen. I am really tired of the attack on yoga from the church and how they seem to have some knowledge the rest of us do not about an ancient practice that has been completely modified and adapted for modern day life. It’s very similar to the way contemporary churches have turned organs, hymns, robes and candles into amplifiers, Chuck Taylor’s, movie screens and light shows. Jesus loves us all and shouldn’t that be the real message from our Christian community? #iloveyogapants #bodyshamingsucks