As you may know if you’ve been reading this blog, I left a stressful, extremely pressurised, highly political job with a view to striking out of my own and/or working in a healthier, more honourable, less controversy filled environment.
Well, a rather sobering realisation hit me today.
Politics, bitches and wankers are everywhere.
Naive little me wanted to get into teaching yoga because I thought I’d be mixing and working with more like minded, holistic, non judgemental, loving souls.
And guess what?
The yoga community is rife with politics.
I bet you, like me, thought it would be all one love, acceptance, passivity, cool in the kaftan, love and peace, man?
Well it ain’t.
Firstly there are all kinds of different yogas, all taught or founded by a variety of gurus/practitioners, and whilst some people may teach or practice a variety of styles, some are loyal to one particular yoga to the point of being evangelistic and naturally think it’s the best or even the only path.
Then there are the religious/spiritual beliefs that are part and parcel of some of these styles. Of course some people just do their yoga for exercise as they want an arse that doesn’t skim the floor, or to lose their bingo wings, and couldn’t give a shit about the spiritual side, but a lot of yogis take it much more seriously than that. Some in fact, feel very deeply that they know the meaning of life, the universe and everyt’ing and offer this as part of their teaching.
Then there is the nutritional side of things, where what you are advised/allowed/expected to eat varies enormously. Vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, blah, blah, bleugh. Sugar is evil, but you can use honey, unless you’re a vegan and then you’re not allowed because the bees get mugged for it. Potatoes are bad for you but sweet potatoes are fine, but the odd bag of crisps don’t count. ‘Nightshade vegetables’ are out if you’re macrobiotic, anything that used to have a face is out apart from the odd bacon sandwich or Sunday lunch (‘Because I don’t want to upset my mum’ – ha!) alcohol is poison but cannabis is fine every now and then because it’s an ‘erb, and so on and so forth.
I’m still learning at the moment, going to lots of different classes and trying to keep an open mind but from what I can tell, yoga is a bit like the Mafia.
Once you decide to join one family, the only way you leave is in a box.
One problem is that everyone thinks that their chosen path and style of teaching is the right one, and when yogis from one gang decide to try a different style of teaching to broaden their experience, they are sometimes told that everything that they have learned it wrong, and they need to pretty much cast aside their current practice and start from scratch.
As you can imagine that goes down like a shit and spam sandwich, and whilst both parties may maintain a calm exterior and a civilised manner during such exchanges, as soon as one goes out of the room, the other is muttering away furiously to his mat neighbour about arrogance, out of control egos, and someone being in danger of getting ‘whacked in the weeds’.
Then there are the ‘Tony S v Johnny Sack’ style Guru wars.
Conversation overheard at a Mind, Body and Spirit show I went to recently:
‘So do you know Guru1?’
‘I don’t, but my Guru, GuruTheOneAndOnly said that he knew him well and that Guru1 is a lovely guy, but to be careful when talking to him as he fell out with my Guru because they had a disagreement years ago.’
Yogi 1 (nervously looking around to see if anyone was listening):
‘That doesn’t sound like Guru1 at all, I’m sure you must be mistaken. Guru1 doesn’t fall out with anyone. He’s all about love.’
‘Oh. Maybe I’m mistaken, but GuruTheOneAndOnly said it happened when….’
Yogi 1 (Icy):
‘I don’t think so. GURU1 is full of love. Full. Of. Love. I’ll mention it to him, but I’ve never heard of your Guru, so he might not have either. Anyway, must dash, have a meditation workshop to run. Namaste!’
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed ‘I’m more enlightened than you’ fracas between high profile teachers, especially the males. Believe me, just underneath the modulated tones, serene countenances and radiant smiles, it’s all OTT ego, willy waving and territory spraying.
It is however the first time I’ve heard ‘Namaste’ sound like ‘You Fuck!’….
Some other yogis can just as bad. Whilst everyone is on their mats, it’s all peace, serenity, love and acceptance, but if someone stands out for being different, not conforming, or having their own opinions, the gang closes in, the pieces come out and the poor sods reputation is taken down like a cornered hit.
Not that different to the average high pressure office environment.
That realisation nearly sent me into a panic attack; the thought that I’d moved from a well paid career to a badly paid one and seemingly I still had to work around cliques, bitchiness and arrogant arseholes was disheartening to say the least.
There was me, hoping to find a place where I can belong, a community of like minded people in an environment that I can call home.
That’s when it hit me. I’m never going to find this sanctuary, this commune, this population of evolved, enlightened, totally accepting, loving beings, because it doesn’t exist. Not on this planet anyway.
And even if it did? I’d probably be chucked out for being angry, stubborn, suspicious, judgemental, and lets face it, down right bitchy sometimes 😉 .
Because to quote Rhona Cameron when she was on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ (so I heard, I only watch Newsnight and Panorama myself….), ‘Sometimes we are all like that’.
Each and everyone of us has a good and a negative side, because that’s what being human is all about.
This might seem totally obvious to you, and intellectually it was to me, but in practice I expected and probably still expect the people I am close to not to hurt me or let me down. But we all mess up, say stuff, do things we regret every single day. Some more than others of course. And these yogis are in the minority and are small fry when compared with some of the total, utter twats, I’ve worked with, but let’s face it, I am no saint either.
So, that’s all very well, but what the fuck am I supposed to do now?
I’m going to have to come back to you on that one….
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never give up yoga, but I think I’ll stick with being an Associate and avoid being ‘made’ with any particular mob for the meantime.
But as a sole source of income?