Jessamyn Stanley is one of the only yoga instructors that doesn’t come off as phoney. Her new title Yoke is a deep dive into what makes yoga yoga. The idea of practicing yoga is to join mind, body, breath, and movement with the light, dark, good, and bad in us all. Literally, the yoga of your day could just be getting up everyday, taking a deep breath, and being thankful you’re still here within yourself. American yoga, nay, Western yoga in general, has little with the yoga I just mentioned.
Ms. Stanley goes pretty in depth about her conflicting feelings on American yoga and the community it breeds; especially, when it comes to White supremacy, bigger bodies, and capitalism. However, she also points out that to teach yoga--past and present, one has to be a mercenary when it comes to making money. Sure, enlightenment, do no harm, be above the hubbub of the world...but, how are you going to eat and pay bills while searching for enlightenment and the true self? Spirituality costs, baby! Are you willing to pay the price for the chance to have a perfect body, a pure soul, and to live forever? Sure you are! Your soul is money, and your god will be your yoga instructor-- who will lovingly hawk overpriced subscriptions and unnecessary swag to make you feel more a part, or shall we say yoked to the practice. But, only if you have the correct dress size and bank account.
Jessamyn Stanley speaks about how one cuts through all that to find oneself. Sure, maybe, one should always strive to enlighten others, but not before enlightening one’s self. Yoga shouldn’t be performative or attention seeking; and, it doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing. Yoga can be found in the quiet spaces of your day, your mind, and your body: Your yoga could be living your true self everyday without causing harm to others while doing the most elaborate ashtanga practice for an hour everyday in a perfectly heated room, on a biodegradable vegan mat with zero props. Your yoga could also be just using the bathroom in silence while your kids tear down the house around you.