Tori Morrison My Secular Love of Yoga

I don't believe in gods. I refuse to acknowledge that homeopathic water has any medicine in it. I laugh at reiki massage and acupuncture.

I like my beliefs to stem from books written by experts with proper footnoting. I strive everyday to become a more logical person. I evaluate my life and am not afraid to admit that my brain will hallucinate, misinterpret, and falsely remember aspects of my life that others would have interpreted as spiritual, otherworldly and inexplicable. I'm a militant skeptic and I love yoga. My interest in yoga started from a dark period in my life that I like to refer to as “my hippy years.”

My hippy years had great parties with friends that didn't bathe and are responsible for me acquiring an obscure liberal arts degree. I stopped being a hippy when I noticed that talking about "the establishment" and protesting on campus was just a symptom of our social privilege. I was always a little dark and calculated for the hippy thing anyway, so I traded in my poncho for a shirt and tie. But I still liked yoga. It wasn't the girls in yoga pants, or the promise that I'd get a yoga butt. I like working out and I like that yoga is a skill. “I can put my feet behind my head” is a pretty good icebreaker. But more than anything, yoga is a sweet way to work out and chill out at the same time. But then shit gets weird.

My yoga instructor then tells us how yoga can cure my pain and hands out only-good-news news papers or talks about bizarre mixtures of Buddhism and Hinduism vastly misunderstood by the skinny white lady in front of me. My exercise buzz turns to shame as I feel I've been taken in by charlatans in stretchy tights. I march out without taking a pamphlet and quietly make my way to my bike. I am aware that I'm the one in wrong. I want all the sexy yoga poses and the discipline without any of the namaste, which may make me a bad white person. But before you accuse me of being a cultural colonialist, let me give you an idea of what yoga is in most studios in the North America: your spiritual Yogi is now a size 0 fitness instructor. Your place of wisdom and solitude is a brightly lit gym and you can hear the latest summer jam pumping through the walls. If you think you can just walk in in your sweats and old camping t-shirts, you're wrong.

The path to enlightenment is pricey. You'll need your $130.00 yoga specific sweat pants, an $80 sports bra shirt, a brand name water bottle, and of course, a $12.00 colour coordinating headband. Then you need your designer mat, and to ride your bike you need a trendy travel mat bag so everyone knows you are on your way to yoga. So between the fact that even small classes usually have at least 8 grand worth of yoga accessories and the absence of any true cultural effort let's all be honest- this is stretch class. We are all here to get into a smaller size, not find nirvana.

So why are we kidding ourselves? Somewhere along the line, enlightenment became something you can sell, and let's face it, nothing sells better than the promise you aren't a shallow uninteresting follower who buys things to supplement their weak personality. So a quick namaste in the studio or a couple of encouraging lines on a reusable bag and we can pretend we're deep and worldly when in reality you've been trying to figure out what season the chick beside you got her pants from. But for us cynics, there will always be a little shame in our deep love of commercial stretch class.


Finally, some honesty

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