I’ve said in a previous post that there is some tension present in being an atheist and a yogi. I think it’s more to the point to say there is tension between being a skeptic and a yogi. While in general the teachers whose classes I frequent usually stick with pretty non-controversial claims about the benefits of yoga, every now and then I hear things that make me smirk and squirm a little inside. Stuff like this (not exact quotes):
We’re going to have a relaxed class today because it’s near the new moon. Our energy levels are lowest during the new moon.
Claims that any of the above must be real and good because it’s been practiced for 1000′s of years.
I’ve tolerated this stuff for the most part, and have even gone along with it for the sake of experimentation. I have found that, in general, these things have not been core to the classes. The chakra talk I can deal with as being symbolic for different areas and characteristics of the body. No problem. Same with Kundalini. The alternative medicine stuff does set me a bit on edge though. Especially when I read about things like this: http://whatstheharm.net/ayurvedicmedicine.html. Maybe I’ll ask my teacher about that. Were all these people just doing it wrong?
I’m into the holistic aspect of yoga, and this is why it’s been the only exercise program I’ve stuck with regularly going on two years now. I’m not in it “just for the workout,” it’s also about the mental and emotional benefit as well. I’m all for the non-rational–I don’t have to reason everything out and understand how everything works in order to accept it. What I can’t accept is the irrational. What if some of these things being practiced as part of yoga can actually be harmful?
It’s July 4th weekend! And this, along with my reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, has gotten my thinking just how wonderful the freedoms we have in America really are. It’s shocking to see how the morality police in Iran, the Revolutionary Guard, protect their society by making sure the woman do not wear nail polish or show a strand of hair.
“Can you imagine the kind of man who’d get sexually provoked just by looking at a strand of my hair?” said Nassrin. “Someone who goes crazy at the sight of a woman’s toe…wow!” she continued, “My toe as a lethal weapon!” (from pg 70)
I can’t imagine…It’s made me incredibly thankful for the freedoms I enjoy here in the U.S. I even bought a pair of red shoes yesterday. If I lived under such rules as described in “Reading Lolita” such a thing would be unthinkable. I shudder to think what could have happen if so many of the Founding Fathers had not been sons of the Enlightenment–if groups like the Puritans would have seized power over the United States.
There are groups even here in the United States who desire to enforce their religious rules and “morality” on society. First thing coming to my mind is those who would try to restrict women’s access to and education about birth control. Those who would prevent gay couples from marrying. Or trying to censor ideas by banning books from the library. I don’t care if it’s done in the name of Allah or Jesus. It’s all the same to me.
But at least here in America I still can show my individuality and femininity without being tormented by “morality police.”
And I can read whatever I want! I can meet in a book group without fear of being raided by some form of the Revolutionary Guard. Reading was my form of rebellion, after all.
Thank goodness for freedom of religion and freedom from religion! Let’s not take it for granted.