Undoing My Yoga Snobbery


I was in the Berkshires recently for a meditation retreat. On day #2, I heard there was a yoga class and went to check it out. When I got to there, I saw to my snotty Manhattan dismay that the woman who’d served me oatmeal an hour ago was dressed in her sweats and ready to lead class.

Was this some half-assed attempt to throw the asana crowd a bone? Where had she studied anyway? I could feel my not-so-deeply hidden yoga snobbery boiling up. Even worse, I knew that if I maneuvered myself into a conversation and asked this woman about lineages and teachers, she would ask me the same questions, thereby giving me the opportunity to lay down my ace.

“I studied in Mysore,” I imagined myself saying, which would distinguish me as a serious student who’d not only gone to India but studied in the town of PK Jois. I am not sure why, but somehow the more decent side of my brain took over and I decided, for once, not to play yogic one-upmanship, and joined the class as just another anonymous student.

This, dear reader, had the unintended consequence of putting me into a real pickle. I wanted to be serious. Sitting there on my little 3 by 5 piece of rubber real estate, I wanted to focus solely on the practice and not let my mind wander back to the teacher and her credentials. I wanted to embody that idea. Have you ever tried? It requires thought, attention to detail, a true and honest meditation on the practice. And it made that class, held in a former chicken coop, perhaps the hardest one I ever took.

--Cynthia Kling

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