March 21, 2013

Sinners, Saints, Sattva & Yogis. ~ Justin Kaliszewski

There’s been some snarky shit circulating in the Denver yoga scene these days.

From studio to Facebook, some of it even spilled onto the pages of elephant. Saints, sinners and yogis all crying out who is purer than whom…

Somewhere between a Queen Bee being bitten by a Ballerina or some such nonsense, an arrow got slung my way and I was indirectly accused of not being very “sattvic” because I like to party with some suds after a class from time to time. (Think Friar Tuck here.)

As an outlaw and a contemporary yogi, I hate to pass up an opportunity to throw fuel on the fire.

Now, I’ll admit that I had to look it up. Truth be told, I don’t have a fluency or even much of an affinity for all the fancy “sandscrpit” that’s spoken in more traditional classes. Turns out I was being accused of being impure, of spreading spiritual disease through the dissemination of beer following practice.

Whether you have been stung by a bee, or shown up by a ballerina, if you’re a popular teacher or just a studio owner who wishes they were, integrity means living one’s truth, not living someone’s truth.

Here’s my truth:

>> I like to drink beer.

>> I like to smoke weed.

>> And I like to eat pus… I mean, pork. I like to eat pork.

Does this make me any less “yogic”?

Such an interesting question to even ask… what if I do it all in a really mindful way?

I have hurt and been hurt—and I know about truth because I know the price of lies, not because I know the Sanskrit word for it. I have robbed and been robbed—and I know about integrity because I know what it’s like to have none, not because I can quote Patanjali.

I, for one, would rather celebrate spirit with a real sinner, than cry about forms with fake saints. Besides being much more fun, sinners grant us the grace of speaking from a place of Truth. A truth that is born of acceptance and forgiveness, not ideas and opinions.

I can’t stick my foot behind my head, but I know how to get my head out of my ass. And I may not be able to do all the fancy poses, but I know how to walk my talk. Not yours… not your neighbors’. Mine.

It’s your truth that matters. Not mine and damn sure not my Facebook friends’. We are yogis, not saints. In order to get over each other, let’s first get over ourselves.

It costs us nothing to consider.

And I am not without reason. I’ll consider that by serving beer at community yoga events that I’m not sattvic, if you’ll consider the role of sattva in contemporary life. Not as an antiquated notion of purity through ritual, but purity in intention. Consider how your actions, speech and thought, converge to elevate those around you.

Perhaps consider, while you’re at it, the good that’s not being done when we misuse a potentially powerful teaching tool like Facebook as nothing more than a forum for personal feuds.

Consider all of this, not enclosed within a cave of tradition, but within a contemporary yoga setting.

It’s not words like “fuck” or frosty glasses of beer that make us less sattvic. Sattva as a practice means to lead from within, from a purity of intention.

Who really suffers from the stubborn refusal to meet students and fellow human beings where they are, to guide them along the lines of their essential bias, instead of our own?

Let others stir the pot and talk themselves hoarse preaching to the converted, singing songs in the name of their own supposed state of purity. The rest of you, yogis, I challenge… to use Facebook—and indeed every tool at your moment to moment disposal, from beers to boobs—to lead.

To let your actions teach without words.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Asst. Ed. Caroline Scherer/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

Image: starbeard/Flickr

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