There is a certain level of seriousness to yoga. I’ll grant you that. Here we are in challenging asanas (physical postures) and a great deal of care must be taken to avoid injury (as we all know–injury is not good for the body, for the soul OR yoga, for that matter). After all, if you’re in pain, then you’re not doing yoga, right? Yoga is the attempt to separate yourself from the ego, and the ego is what pushes us until we end up in injury.
Okay, all that aside. What about humor? I know I would never get through a yoga class without it. On one hand, yes, this is life, possibly our only one (but who knows) and death and there are wars and famine and environmental crises. Yes, all of this is true. But how is my being serious all the time going to help these situations? If anything, seriousness=depression=couch=reruns of Friends=inaction.
Yoga, on the other hand, is a celebration of life, of our (hopefully) many lives. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then what the hell is the point? I think we need more voices of levity in the yoga world. Yes, meditate. Yes, pray (if that’s your style), but I’m here to tell you that if you don’t think the god/dess hasn’t a sense of humor or doesn’t delight in ours, then you’ve never seen one of these guys or any of these signs.
So, where am I going with this? Who knows. All I know is that many people are turned off by the seriousness or hyper-spirituality of yoga. These things are there to find in a yoga practice and spiritual fulfillment is one of the reasons I found a practice to begin with, but when it comes to recruiting students to yoga or to a larger cause, humor is the way to approach them. Humor and its cousin, self-deprecating humor (of which you’ll find much in one of my classes), goes much farther in soothing and reassuring a new, nervous student and insuring that he or she will return to class than an earnest talk about journeys, destinations, and the universal quality of yoga. All that stuff is true and it will come. We don’t need to worry about everyone’s journey and everyone’s happiness. It’s only life, after all. If we have only one trip around, well, we might as well have fun (we probably won’t be conscious when it’s over anyway; we don’t remember where we were before life started, after all…). And if this isn’t our only journey? Fantastic. Ride the giant, life-sized Ferris wheel and just get back in line. Sure, there are lessons to learn along the way, but let’s remember the melodic lesson of a sp0onful of sugar and all that…
There are people out there sharing this philosophy. Waylon Lewis and his publication, elephant journal, are my favorite examples. Make a point to stop by and browse and enjoy the welcomed spiritual snarkiness of my generation.