And so far, on the whole, 2012 has been more of the latter than the former.
You know, there's been that New York Times article about yoga wrecking your body. Yes, it was good to raise the issue. But then it got depressing, learning about all the yoga injuries, thinking about all the unqualified teachers, hearing about why there's so many unjustified teacher training programs, and on and on . . .
And don't even get me started about the whirlwind of debate that formed around that stupid Equinox video. When Kathryn Budig posted yet another huffy shallow piece in the HuffPo, I couldn't help it - it dragged me down all day.
Sometimes I feel like I've learned too much about yoga - or, that is, about American yoga today. And it's just like - ick. Get me out of here. I hate this shit.
Thank you, thank you
And then I get back on my mat to practice at home because I'm feeling so cranky and stiff and I know that I just need some asana. And it makes me feel so much better. And it's great. And I think - OK, forget all that crap. Yoga really is great. At least here at home alone in my own little room.
Which is wonderful. But it still feels lonely. Until . . .
I make it back to my local yoga class. I drive to a nearby studio with some friends. We've all managed to arrange our work schedules to attend this class together. It's small. Twelve students would be a big day. Usually it's more like 6 - 8.
We've got 6, 7, 8, 9 women in a room, including the teacher. And we work our way through some really serious stuff. And it's fun, and it's hard, and it's deep, and it's wonderful.
And I realize - all those headlines are important, but they're not the backbone of what's happening. No, it's the stories that are too "small" to be written up in the New York Times.
It's all those teachers who've invested thousands of their own dollars in training programs that will take years, if ever, to pay off. It's the teachers who trek to their local studios, or gyms, or church basements, week after week to teach a small group of students, who may or may not be able to make it regularly, who may or may not be able to use what's being offered to lift off. But who go back and keep teaching anyway. And keep studying, keep practicing.
Who will never be on the cover of Yoga Journal. Who will never be a headliner at Wanderlust. Who can't help but wonder sometimes why they're investing so many resources in something that seems so impractical. Who can't help but feel bad sometimes because they know that they'll never be featured in a video that's gotten two million hits; that they'll never be beautiful enough to command those big advertising dollars.
Who've studied the Sutras not because it sounds impressive, but because they're interested in learning more about yoga. Who've wondered about enlightenment not because they're on some byzantine ego trip, but because they want to plumb the depths of what life really offers.
Who will always try their best for their students - even if there's only three of them in the room, when they were hoping for 20. Who'll be careful to note what each one needs for the next class, and try to devote some of their scant time to learning more about it before they get back in front of that student again.
Who really want to share the best of what they've experienced through their own asana practice with others. Who know that they don't understand what this gift means, but know that they care about sharing it.