This yoga festival is making me feel like shit
By Emelia Symington Fedy
I am at a yoga festival with thousands of yogis from across the US of A. We are all gathered here to practice, to play, to work hard together, and I find myself sitting all by myself feeling like shit.
I have to admit I did go into this experience preparing to hate the festival to a height I had never touched before. This is the kind of place where white people gather to affirm each other’s privilege and their butts, and my job is to be their teacher’s assistant during this process. As I am naturally a cynical person, you may ask: Why Emelia, why would you go to such a thing you were preparing to dislike so much? Good question.
The first class I am involved in has over three hundred people squished into it. The teacher has huge hair. The girls behind me are talking about how their dream is to be “yoga rock stars” just like her. Right away, my little inner asshole comes creeping out of my butt and gets ready to pounce.
This big-haired teacher talks to us about how we are all one and how our disconnected feelings come from outside of ourselves. She talks about how our natural state is to always be in union with each other and it makes me want to cry a bit because that sounds like such a good idea. I leave the class and walk past all the hundreds of vendors hawking their yoga food and funky clothes and spiritual bracelets guaranteed to bring you into balance, and I feel even more sad and lonely than before.
The grandma in me is raging: “Don’t you young kids have more important things to do with your time than sculpt your glutes? This is not real yoga! In my day…” I shake my head at the tight little asses prancing around like ponies and head to the teachers’ lounge to have a rest.
All around me are other teachers podcasting, live blogging, giving interviews. Their voices are loud. The energy is high. They are out positive-ing each other. It gets me really stressed out because I’m not podcasting or blogging or feeling positive. I cannot be here now with any of these people because they are all too busy selling their sacred and revolutionary brands. I am ashamed. I feel like a real failure amidst all these spiritual entrepreneurs. I think “God, I am such a nobody loser.” Which is such an ironic thing to feel at a yoga festival, because didn’t she say we all supposed to be all one?
What is wrong with me? I feel bad. As in. I am a bad person. All of me is not allowed to be here.
I have to ignore the part of me that questions these people when they talk about loss of ego and then hard-sell their yoga DVD’s in the next breath. I push away the part of me that gets annoyed when I hear words like manifestation and co-creation but then I see them manifesting their own personal wealth and fame. I get pissed off when someone is talking to me and then sees someone who is more important to talk to so walks away mid…
Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely jealously speaking.
I would love to be extremely successful and rich from what I do, too, I just get super confused when I am told to let it flow and relax into my destiny and then I see teachers around me giving themselves hemmies from career pushing effort.
Yoga is such a mind fuck.
And all of you who seem to be able to stay on top of your fear and shame and self doubt—are you better than me? Because sometimes you act like you are better than me. How did you get better than me? What yoga DVD did you buy? There is an elitism in the yoga community that I have not encountered anywhere else in my life. There is a hierarchy, and if you are a rule breaker in any way, or a swearer or a smoker or chubby or poor, you might find yourself on the outside looking in.
I wonder how many other people at this event of thousands feel like shit? I wonder how many other people want to sneak into the bushes and eat a hamburger? When told to breathe into their hearts and feel the love surrounding them, how many other people are thinking to themselves: I can’t feel a thing?
Or maybe it’s just me.
“No, it’s not,” says my cool friend. “The world is full of negativity and you get sucked into it. Of course you engage. You are a microcosm of the macrocosm and your job is to decide if you are going to breed more of the hate or not. Don’t be your mind’s bitch, Emelia. You cannot control your thoughts, but you can control what you do with them.”
So in the afternoon I start to rebel.
I do a couple donkey kicks around the sacred space. I put on my big bling dollar sign necklace that I use when I need a big up.
I fart in class and then laugh.
I tell a woman that her handstand FUCKING rules in my outside voice.
I let the part of myself that feels so tiny here be a bit more free.
It is true that the emperor has no clothes on at this yoga festival. He is in down dog showing us his hairy balls, and it is easy to point and laugh, but that is what you always do, Emelia.
You are fighting the wrong battle here.
It’s not the yoga assholes that I hate; it’s the thoughts I have about the yoga assholes that I hate. So I want to invite you all to my new yoga festival. The prerequisites are high. There is no need for you to like yoga. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. Let it all hang out! Cuddle into a little ball, suck on your $9 kombucha, and know that the darkness you feel every day is a natural thing. Depressed allowed. Addicted allowed. Over-eaters allowed. Imperfect allowed. And if you see someone who has got bullshit sparkles shooting out of their butt, spank it! That is totally allowed too.
I make it to the end of the day. I am assisting a Thai yoga class and my teachers asks everyone to get into pairs, face each other, put our hands on each other’s hearts and look directly into each other’s eyes. Then we are told to breathe together. This is highly uncomfortable. This is bordering on impossible… because I work very hard at staying on top of my fear and shame and self doubt and I definitely don’t want someone else sneaking a peek.
I look at the stranger in front of me. I meet her gaze. My belly softens. I think: Am I better than you? Because sometimes I act like I am better than you. How did I get better than you? What DVD did I buy?
I look right into this woman’s eyes. I go deep and I feel it. Just for a moment. The oneness they have all been talking about. And it is real. And it is easy. And my heart opens. And it feels so good.
I start to cry a bit because this oneness is such a great idea.
Someone should trademark it. They would make billions.
About Emelia Symington Fedy
Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and popular raconteuse. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a Yogi Tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.
Sign up for more of Emelia’s offbeat essays at her popular site tryingtobegood.com.