Today’s musings are about the sometimes confusing place that is ‘Yogaland’, which is obviously the arena in which I spend a lot of time and the platform from which I put my work into the world. I find it confusing because much of what has happened (and continues to do so) in the yoga world doesn’t align with its roots which saddens me. Most concerning are the cases of sexual abuse by well-known and respected yoga teachers. There is also the strange manifestation of how the traditional trusting and valued teacher-student relationship has been watered down into some kind of hierarchal offering that at best can be patronising but is also convincing many eager participants to believe that there is only one way yoga should be practiced, leaving many feeling a sense of lack and believing that they need to stick with a particular way in order to eventually obtain either a sense of achievement, relief or enlightenment! There have also been times when I have found myself dragged into a weird popularity contest party that I didn’t accept the invite to with people inflicting their likes and dislikes about mine or another teacher’s style of teaching. These are some of the reasons why I have questioned countless times whether I still actually want to be a part of Yogaland and whether there is really a place for me there. I have had several conversations recently where I have been told that people are either too fearful to walk into a class in the first place as they already feel a sense of not being good enough because they don’t own a pair of sparkly lycra leggings, have no idea what any of the ‘styles’ of yoga actually mean and feel that even if they did yoga for the rest of their days they would never look anything like what is often portrayed as ‘#yoga’ via social media. This accompanied by another story from someone who actually went to a yoga class to spend the duration of it feeling completely intimidating by the show boating that was going on at the front of the room by the ‘teacher’. This sounds like more of a performance rather than someone sharing anything remotely helpful to the rest of the room. Of course this could’ve been that they may have unknowingly entered an ‘advanced yoga class’ where there was some expected level of prior knowledge or existing practice but this wasn’t made clear at the beginning and it put the attendee off ever returning to a yoga class. This kind of stories really do make me feel sad and questioning where my place is amongst all of these goings on BUT having contemplated further I feel strongly that there is important work to be done in Yogaland and who am I not to do it? I believe that there is a way to keep the fundamental philosophy of yoga alive whilst exploring the practice in a way that is inclusive and accessible for our modern bodies and minds. Ultimately, I will never be your teacher if your desire is to learn to stand on your head with your hands in prayer position. Having said that I do feel there is a place for challenging ourselves physically because it can be a great way to work with the mind and the process of self-enquiry but it’s knowing what is driving our desire that is most important. I love feeling strong in my body because it helps me to feel stronger in my mind too. It doesn’t matter what someone wants to get from a yoga practice and there are plenty of ways to explore it but if we know why we are doing what we are doing then we are more likely to be able to utilise the practice as originally intended, one of healing. There may be no desire to ‘heal’ or to experience a deeper connection with ourselves, it is ok to practice just because we want to or to feel good. I don’t believe that yoga is the answer to everything but I do believe in it as a practice and in my experience if the healing or awareness doesn’t come directly from the practice itself then yoga can be a way for us to find clarity as to what will. Of course I would like Yogaland to exist without the pain and sadness it has caused and minus the weirdness but that’s like the world itself isn’t it? Most of us hope for equality, less division and more compassion don’t we? Therefore it is important for teachers (especially those of us that feel as though we’re going against the grain) to be putting their work out there to lead the way in another way. Walking away from the field of work that I am passionate about would be like saying I no longer care and I DO CARE! It is an important time to be a yoga teacher and to be of real service to the world, whether it’s weird or not, it’s still wonderful at the same time. I love sharing sustainable mindful movement that helps maintain, improve & strengthen physical health and care deeply about sharing what I feel can support & promote good mental health with practices that strengthen the nervous system. I feel a collective call for support in feeling well and I know I can help with that so for now I’m staying put in Yogaland to do my bit of important work with a great deal of love for what I do and those I connect with.