Published Apr 4, 06 AM
By Shana Sturtz
I recently learned that someone very important to me was upset by my choice to air my writing (and ranting) on Recovering Yogi, a site billing itself as “a refuge for the spiritually disenfranchised.”
The majority of those who read and contribute articles and comments to blogs like this one also practice some form of yoga. However, this does not mean we should all meld into one like-minded organism. Aren’t there enough perky, female, superhuman, gluten-free yoga teachers blogging about inner peace and beauty and contributing positive energies to our world? What you read here are writers offering their thoughts, friends. Personally, I finally feel open to share mine because I don’t live in yoga town anymore.
In reading Recovering Yogi posts the last few months, contributors who admit that yes, they have a competitive streak, have watched other peoples’ poses or body parts with envy, or thought something snarky about a teacher or student during group practice can be harshly condemned by their fellow yogis. The expression of any “negative” feelings that arise around this thing called yoga are denied or met with offense. Often, reactions range from the author needing therapy or meditation or both to alter these feelings. Curiously, no one is suggesting that therapy or meditation are required when everything is all om shanti and rainbows. But, writing about our thoughts on yoga, in their various forms, is simply a reflection of our unique constitutions. At least it is for me. So, why can’t we just express our shit?
We can all agree that people have different constitutions.
For example, I have a lovely cousin who I greatly admire. She has worked as a kindergarten teacher through two pregnancies. This would be about as possible for me as dog paddling to the moon. It would be hard for me to wake up to a kindergarten class on my best day. So you see that she and I are constructed differently. Does yoga change this? Well no, I don’t think so. Yoga has in some ways made me a better person, as has living in a different country or any life experience that has altered my perspective. But have any of these things changed my constitution? I’m going with no.
Some things do temper your constitution. For example, living under the gray skies of Oregon can help a person chill the fuck out. This has been evidenced to me by the kindness of my father compared to the stressed out version of him in my uncle (who only recently moved away from the Midwest). I digress.
Back to those concerned friends and readers of Recovering Yogi who only wish for sunshine. If I was a stand-up comedian, my wit would be rewarded. I could be famous! As a yoga teacher, however, I am an outcast, burning bridges just by being myself. I am exaggerating, but still, I truly believe some yoga friends feel sad for me. They are waiting for the moment enlightenment through yoga takes over my body like the Messiah himself.
You guys, this is my constitution. It’s how I am, just as you may have the ability to be open and loving in every circumstance, ever. I wish I could have been born with that constitution. My life would likely be easier, but please don’t fault me for expressing the kind of thoughts that consume me naturally.
I know no one will be knocking down my door to write some palatable fluff for Yoga Journal, but at least I have Recovering Yoga to write for while alienating my yoga pals in the process. What I really want to say is, I am not a bully. I donate to charity too; I just don’t write about that part of me. This is about me, my expression. Only by expressing who I truly am can I come to the same sort of peace within myself that many of you have found through yoga. So, I must continue.
About Shana Sturtz
Shana Sturtz is a certified yoga teacher and survivor of the exploding Portland, Oregon yoga scene. She currently lives in Guadalajara, Mexico with her husband, Tom. She continues to teach yoga and tutors in English. She has practiced yoga for 15 years, and yes, she is older than most yoga teachers. She is currently looking for more ways to occupy her time in this new land where she hasn’t quite grasped the language, and she is too scared to drive. Coming from Portland, you only learn to ride a bike. While no longer living in Portland (where a new yoga studio opens every hour) she is forced to practice her yoga within the comforts of her home, often with her cat looking on admiringly.