I had a revelation at a Patti Smith concert.
I realized watching her, that it's ok to make people mad.
Even if your are a yoga teacher.
I really needed to finally learn this. I feel very uncomfortable speaking up for myself, confronting people I disagree with, and with being honest about my real opinion. This all stems from not liking to offend people or make them mad. Unfortunately, I am also very opinionated and hate pretending to be something I not, so there is a lot of inner conflict to say the least.
Within the course of 5 minutes of the Patti Smith concert – she called out an audience member for trying to make people sit, told us all to do whatever the f*ck we wanted, and embraced us all with love and kindness. And I realized we can totally be all of it. Opinionated, kind, honest, authentic, loving, whatever...
I think, when we are being authentic, we are bound to step on some toes. But, I also think we have a choice. We can feel bad about everybody we offend along the way, or we can accept that it is going to happen and move on. Making people mad isn't an insult to who are, it is an inevitability of life, albeit one that can be particularly hard to accept as a yoga teacher.
We tend to find gratitude where most people could not, and try not to let our discernment turn into judgment. We try so hard to be accepting, that when somebody doesn't like what are doing or saying it feels like an a affront to our character.
It is not.
It is also ok to be less than grateful, and less than accepting sometimes.
I personally feel disgruntled with lots of different aspects of this multi-billion dollar industry we call yoga. And I often feel I can't complain about it because as yoga teacher I should 'rise above it,' so to speak. But, what good does that do the community? How do we change things by being eternally grateful for things that are sometimes terrible. Are there no exceptions to acceptance? Are there some situations where gratitude and acceptance hurt us more than help us?
The world of yoga is vast and within it there is the good and the not so good. It is a world full of discerning people, and with that comes critique and the desire for change. It is growing and changing constantly, because as discerning people we see that it needs it. In growth there is pain. There are also a million different opinions on every different aspect of yoga. With differing opinions, somebody is bound to get offended. At least once.
C'est la vie.
If something bothers you about the practice, you are allowed to say something about it. And you are allowed to offend and piss people off in the process. And you can be embracing and kind to the whole damn world in the process.
That is because we contain multitudes! All of us!
It's ok if not ALL of our students like us, or if one studio doesn't like our style, or if you don't like all of your students, or don't agree with the policies of a studio where you teach.
Yoga teaches us how to cope with the atrocities of our world, teaches us to find contentment in discomfort, shows us our strengths and our vulnerabilities. It doesn't ask us to ignore pain or gloss over negativity.
We mostly love what we do. Sometimes we hate it. We are conflicted and feeling and human. And we can share all of it or none of it. But when we do share our authentic selves and our opinions, it's ok if we make people mad sometimes.
Especially if it is in the name of growth.