15 Aug Is Yoga Pretentious?
Recently I came across a blog founded on the concept of breaking the so called mold of what it means to be a yogi. The site claims that most yoga teachers are snobby and pretentious, and their mission is to change this and make yoga welcome to everyone. Anyone who has gone to yoga classes for any length of time knows this is not true. In fact, if there was a stereotype yoga teacher they would be overly accepting of everyone and everything. And stating that yoga, and yogis, are pretentious is, in itself, a strongly judgmental statement.
The real issue is a lack of the ability to see the difference between observance and judgment. And here we need to clarify, because judging has a negative connotation, yet also can be a technically true label. Judgment in a negative, critical, or shameful, sense is seen in the statement that yogis are pretentious and snobby; one of the primary forms of negative judgment is name calling.
Judgment in the sense of observing, and discerning what is a better choice in a particular situation, or pointing out what is factually correct when false information is presented, is not negative. So we have to differentiate between the pretentious sense of judging (i.e. name calling), and the judging that is taking in information and coming to a correct assessment of what is being considered.
So, why is it that this site claims yogis are pretentious? Well, the site doesn’t get specific. There are some statements about yogis all dressing the same, and there being prerequisites to join the club, but no definitive issues are described. I’ll guess that this person(s) ran into a few yoga teachers who were a little too preachy about being vegetarian and not drinking, and they took it personally.
If we refer to “real” yogis as snobs or judgmental we’re not really listening, and probably a bit insecure if we’re taking suggestions as judgments. I’ve met very few yogis, or yoga teachers, who are pretentious. Maybe a few who are overzealous when it comes to promoting how they incorporate yogic concepts into their life.
What does this stem from?
I believe this idea of yogis being pretentious stems from us promoting the observances associated with yoga philosophy. Much like Buddhism, the goal of classical yoga is liberation, or enlightenment. If a teacher says enlightened people eat for optimum health, and claims a vegetarian diet is the healthiest, they aren’t judging people who eat meat.
There’s a difference between stating fact, and passing judgment. If I’m eating a scone every day (which I have gotten into the habit of), someone isn’t judging me when they simply say that eating a scone every day isn’t healthy.
So what causes some people to think yoga is pretentious? At the core is an innate rebelliousness that exists in us all. More on that next time.