I have been having lots of conversations with random people I meet about yoga. When I tell someone I am certified at the basic level and I am sort of structuring my life around studying yoga at the advanced level, they look at me with a mix of wonder and bewilderment.
There is a brief pause in the conversation.
And then they tell me what they think of yoga. They tell me about their class at the Y or about how yoga is more about meditation than movement in India. They tell me they prefer Pilates. They tell me they tried hot yoga and A) got addicted to it, or B) got grossed out and never went back because it smelled bad or someone sweated on them, or both.
I am glad I have a job people understand. I have met so many people who tell me they do Blahdiblahdiblah with computers and I mentally glaze over and think about what I will be having for my next meal. Of course, they are most likely rewarded handsomely for doing the magical, ineffable things they do with computers. I just really like that people know what I am talking about when I tell them I study, teach, and generally compulsively obsess over yoga.
Yoga in America is a strange creature. Yoga is a study of letting go, needing and wanting less, being more aware, focusing inside yourself. So it comes to America and it turns into $100 yoga mats and designer clothes and hot, driving, competitive classes to sculpt your abs and firm your butt.
And yet, some of the yogic meditative quality comes through. People do slow down and show up. When I started yoga, I was very driven to excel at it. Same with massage. I was going to be the best. I was going to win. But massage and yoga and meditation do not work that way. In order to get to the next level, there is a letting go, a detachment, a willingness to fail that has to happen. If you show up often enough on your mat (however much it cost) or at the massage table, or on the meditation cushion, you find that out. It is like walking past a mirror one thousand times. Sooner or later, you see yourself there.