Please Just Don’t …
In 2015, Brock Turner, a student at Stanford, came across a woman who fell, was knocked unconscious, and decided to rape her. He took off her underwear, tore her bra, and left her by a dumpster. He was convicted by a jury in California.
It seems like this case should be closed. And yet…
In Denver, there’s a male yoga teacher who decided that it would be a good idea to talk about it during yoga. Really?
“The teacher blamed Brock Turner’s victim, and that was enough for me. I was out,” wrote a student on the internet.
I heard of another instance of a really bad idea from a studio manager who said a male teacher talked about abortion as his theme in a yoga class. He was let go after that.
Funny, but in my new big book of yoga themes, Theme Weaver: A Companion Workbook to Plan Yoga Classes, I do not include any about abortion, politics, or rape.
Furthermore, I am going to offer some unsolicited advice: If you are a white, middle-aged, straight man and you want to comment on rape, trauma, sexual abuse, the #metoo movement, anything LGBTQ, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, or how you don’t feel privileged, just shut the fuck up. Trust me on this.
The quickest way for a yoga class to go downhill is usually by opening your mouth and inserting a foot. Just recently a yogi told me what caused cancer (hint, it wasn’t something scientific). It is likely that someone in the class either has cancer, or knows someone with cancer, so our ideas can be naïve and hurtful. Also, botanical oils are not the cure. In fact, I’m a strong believer that MLM products should be kept out of the yoga room, even if you believe they cure cancer.
I recently met a woman who said she tried yoga but left it for Pilates. I asked her what she didn’t like about yoga. She said, “The teacher kept pushing her views on me.” This makes me terribly sad because I love yoga.
Our themes should make people feel better, wiser or stronger. They should be stories of resilience, survival, self-acceptance, empowerment, etc. If possible, they should also reveal a little bit about you, so students can get to know you better, and connect the human experience to yoga.
Lastly, when I’m at a loss or flailing about for words, I try to remember that I don’t have to tell anyone what to think, or how to vote. I don’t have to fix anyone. I don’t have to provide a moral, or an ethical parable. I don’t need to be funny, or witty or brilliant or even “on.”
When there’s less pressure, we tend to say less stupid.
Our students will figure things out. Trust they are as smart, if not smarter, than we are. A theme is just a ray of light that points the way for growth. It’s up to each of us to follow the source and figure things out on our own.
Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is the author of four books on yoga, most recently, “Theme Weaver: A Companion Workbook to Plan Yoga Classes.”