As my classmates and I settled into the studio on Friday evening, one of the first things I took note of was the diversity in the room- or lack thereof. Immediately noticeable were the wide range of ages and body types gathered together. Also immediately noticeable? All women (or appearing to be so, at least). While I'm on-board with girl-time and hanging with a bunch of smart, cool, women once a month, I'm still a little sad that there were no stereotype-bashing men signed up for class. Yoga has this rap that it's just for white chicks, but you know who yoga is good for? Bodies. All bodies, any body, every body. Other genders have bodies, too.
I did remind myself, as I made a mental survey of the faces ranged before me, that diversity isn't always visible. Every single person in the room brings their own set of experiences to the group, adding richness to our discussions. Making assumptions about people's lives (present or past) damages everyone, and subtracts richness as group members feel marginalized.
Later in the year, we'll be taking field trips as a class to three different religious sites: a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple, and a Catholic shrine. Our instructor gave us this information and reiterated that yoga is not a religion, and the intention is not to convert anybody from their chosen faith, but to enrich their faith and allow us to feel the energy (that illusive "it") in each of these spiritual places. I'm really excited for these trips. I have very little knowledge or or contact with Hinduism or Buddhism, and I will be intensely curious about their traditions and rituals. The Catholic shrine is a site I've been meaning to visit for the past two years- set on a hill visible from the interstate, this shrine is all glass and exposed wooden beams. Beyond gorgeous, even from afar.
Gandhi has said that "all religions are true," which I firmly believe as well. Practicing yoga or learning about other religious traditions is not about conversion, but about further understanding. A fellow student shared some insight from a recorded talk Gandhi gave in NYC, where he explained that the religion you choose is right for you. Being accepting of other religions doesn't mean we should all be practicing the exact same one. It means there's room for different expressions of similar understandings. That's definitely something I want to keep exploring in my writing. I have a hard time putting to words the breadth of Truth I believe in. As soon as words come into play, humans put their own meanings to them. If I use the word God or Universe or Mother Nature, a reader can come up with three different pictures, the same picture for each, different pictures with the same meaning. . . and on and on. No wonder each human being is on his or her own journey of understanding- our means of communication are too flawed to carry such expression.