Failure, Deception and Begin Again
Of late, the Tuesday evening and Saturday yoga classes have lost a committed, robust attendance. To put it plain, they appear to be “failing” One to two attendees remain. The schedule shows plenty of late cancels and a few classes no one signed up for at all. The Monday and Wednesday, Sunday classes are chugging along, with the regulars pretty much making and keeping their commitment to themselves and their community.
Why are the yoga classes languishing while the Practice for Injury and Pain classes are thriving?
I’ve had this conversation with students, and my mentor, even my husband. We postulate many theories:
“The posture is a mirror to help you see something. So, people tend to think of asana as some kind of external thing, but it's not at all.” – Gary Kraftsow in conversation with Georg Feuerstein
“सत् sát : that which really is, entity or existence, essence, the true being or really existent."
To be honest, there is no one agreed upon meaning of yoga. Even if you look up the Sanskrit, or ask a master teacher, go read The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavatgita, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or The Hatha Yoga Pradipika; depending upon which text and who translated them, the “What Is Yoga” will be different.
What is the failure? The failure is I have simply smiled and welcomed you to class, asking if you have yoga experience and leave it at that. The failure is I don’t communicate to you as you try out Aspiration Community Yoga that the poses and breathing are methods for your awareness of This-Now. The failure is you come to yoga because you believe it might help, but you don’t come to be aware of This-Now. And you it needs to be convenient, when you aren’t busy.
Where’s the deception? We are vague with each other. When you show up at yoga class saying, “I heard this will help me feel better”, neither of us clarify what doesn’t feel good or your concept of “feel better” entails or the timeline you envision. I do not disclose, “I will design a program for you to experience This-Now and you will ‘feel’ different when you are aware of it.” I don’t even ask if you want that. Because you want your hip or your shoulder to stop hurting and that’s a clear and easy goal, no matter your priorities.
[Martin Buber] was lecturing at Columbia and I raised my hand and said, "There's a word being used here this evening that I don't understand. He said, "What's the word? I said, "God" You don't understand what God means?" he replied. I said, "I don't know what you mean by God.” - Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, p 60.
And so, as Burmese meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita instructed, “Begin Again”. I want to ask you the awkward, no-short-answer-question, “What do you mean by Yoga?” You may be flustered at my question. Don’t I know what Yoga means? After all, my bio states I was trained within the lineage of a particular yoga school starting in 2002. But I don’t know what YOU mean by yoga. By understanding each other, you may make a more informed choice whether my offering best matches your search.