By Jenny Park
“I’m sick of it all,” she boomed. “The spiritual succor, Oprah’s wisdom, even that perky barista has taken to judging my sugar-laden latte with eye rolls! I’m telling you right now: I am done with all this organic-living and ‘finding me’ nonsense!”
Thus began my friend Carol’s diatribe moments after she realized her search for spiritual sanity ended up drowning her in a torrid sea of self-help. I lent a compassionate ear, acknowledged her present anti-esoteric space, and refrained from suggesting she start a juice detox or pop into a yoga school. After all, she was already teetering on the new-age edge.
After our exchange, I thought about yoga as a method for self discovery, and how we, as yoga instructors, can promote the emotional benefits of yoga training to a demographic of people who are beginning to experience self-help fatigue.
While it’s true that yoga has come a long way in public perception, many people still file it away under esoteric curiosities. If you’re looking to crack the stained-glass Sanskrit ceiling and prove to the spiritually skeptical that yogic methodology isn’t just some silly new-age machination, which promises lots but delivers little, it’s important to choreograph a class that highlights the real-world emotional benefits of yoga and minimizes the spiritual aspects. You don’t have to eradicate the non-physical parts of yoga, but why not consider re-packing the messages?
For example, instead of talking about chakra alignments, discuss tangible ideas, like balancing home and work; it’s a universal issue that resonates with a wide variety of people – regardless of spiritual outlook. Refrain from waxing poetic about ancient ideas of inner balance, and as a substitute, highlight the many studies and reports that explore yoga as it relates to business people, athletes, parenting, and even prison inmates who are now in programs that use yoga as a way to combat stress and violent tendencies.
Seva – or service – is a main tenant of yogic philosophy, and sometimes that means learning how to impart the more emotional, self-exploratory benefits of practice in a less esoteric way, thereby attracting a wider range of people who can connect with — and grow through — yoga.
Remember, not everybody bonds with their inner self in the same way; but there is a decent chance that if things are kept secular, you may be able to teach more people how to find themselves through yogic practices. Good luck, and as always, Namaste.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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