I’ve been intimately engaged in the yoga community for the past twenty years, either as a practitioner, teacher, or both. Over the decades, I have heard a recurring sentiment from teachers and students alike. “Everyone should try yoga! You’ll love it! It’s designed for everybody!”
This line of thinking is patently false and I feel it should not be perpetuated. I obviously love yoga and the myriad benefits the practice brings to my life on a daily basis. But here’s the deal: there are people on this planet who thrive on high intensity, percussive exercise. For some, deadlifting enormous amounts of weight or running an ultramarathon feels great to them. Battling it out in a Crossfit gym or sweating profusely in a Zumba class while shaking their tail feathers is a great fit for their personality and particular placement in life. To be fair, I don’t actually get what it is in a person’s makeup that causes them to want to do burpees until they’re red in the face, but I know it is needed for some. Whatever it is that’s going on in their life and their body, they need that particular type of release. As such, I think we, as yoga teachers and practitioners, should leave them be. I’ve witnessed countless conversations between friends where one participant is 100% pro yoga and sees no other viable means of exercise. The other friend, arguing the merits of their three-times-a-week spin class, doesn’t seem at all enthused at the idea of attending a barefoot, hippy dippy yoga class. And here’s the beauty of it all: we live in a vast universe with endless ways to satisfy our movement needs. Not everyone has to like yoga, just like not everyone has to be devoted to TRX. It’s ok! Quit being the pushy yoga teacher who insists yoga is the only way to go! If it’s meant to be for a person somewhere along their path, let them find it in their own time, sans pressure and nagging.
And before you argue that there are high-intensity yoga classes, please be aware that I’m a power vinyasa teacher at heart. I know there are ballistic, percussive, high-intensity yoga classes available around the clock. That’s missing the point. The point is we need to stop pushing our beliefs on each other and honor our sutras. Live and practice in a space of gentle kindness and openness to opposing viewpoints. Only then will we really be living our practice.
A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Elizabeth Marshall is the founder of Rise Wellness. Dedicated to all aspects of health and wellness, Elizabeth is a yoga instructor, Pilates trainer, and Reiki Master. Rise Wellness is located on the fourth floor of the old Custom House in Portland.