Sadie Nardini brings up the tough stuff!
There's a very interesting article over at the Huntington Post written by Sadie Nardini (super awesome vinyasa yogini from NYC). In this article, she "comes out of the closet" about her meat-eating ways. She calls out the yoga community about being judgmental about omnivores and for putting pressure on practitioners by accusing them of being "less yogic" by eating meat.
As you may know, I'm vegetarian. It's something I'm passionate about, and I'm so grateful for the abundance of the earth and the many delicious fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that are available to me. I don't consider myself a hard-core evangelist for the vegetarian cause, but I do think that many people could stand to eat more mindfully by eating a plant-based diet and making choices that are gentle to our environment.
It may surprise you, then, that I totally agree with Sadie. As Sadie, astutely points out, "In many places, a vegetarian or vegan diet is not possible, and more expensive than the average salary can afford. It's not only spiritual-ist but classist to demand it as a prerequisite." As much as I'm thankful for the abundance of the earth, I'm also thankful that really I have the luxury of actually having a choice of what I can eat. At any time of the year, I can procure just about any sort of food item I want... and on top of that, I can buy organic, local, or grow my own food.
One statement in particular really jumped out at me:
"There is a strong "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the yoga community that is keeping students, and even many teachers, locked firmly inside the meat-eating closet. If they do tell, they run the risk of being placed somewhere along the imaginary, self-created spectrum of yoginess, usually more towards the bottom than the vegans among us.
One result of this is that yoga is getting a bad rap, as a culture of Yogier-Than-Thou, which has people running back to the gym in droves. No one wants to be made to feel like a lesser being, especially while already lurching around in Tree Pose like a drunken sailor. And I'm sick and tired of seeing it happen again and again in studios across the country, proving to potential students that they are not welcome as they are...but will be only if they plan to change."
Although this article is specifically about diet, Sadie really gets the big picture here. Or should I say, she gets to the meat of the matter. (uh... sorry) This dietary judgment thing is only one in an influx of yoga-fundamentalism and egoism that is cropping up in all sorts of ways in the yoga community. I would consider all the new "brands" of yoga a symptom of this as well.
I have definitely been on the receiving end of this Yogier-Than-Thou treatment and it is not cool! I recognize that in the seat of the teacher, one has an obligation to be a leader and to guide students. However, that is not a free pass to manipulate people or make them feel bad about themselves. In addition, people come to yoga for all sorts of reasons, and not necessarily for the spiritual benefits or philosophical discussions. While I love to plant seeds of the yamas and niyamas in my classes, I would never dream of sizing up a student and be like ... "WHOOAAA! Someone sure has a problem with satya up in here! You'll never reach sammadhi the way you're headed!"
So, in sum, I'm on board with Sadie. It's a bold thing to do to call out the community at large, but we could definitely stand to spread around that ahimsa we're always going on about and show some compassion and understanding towards our brothers and sisters throughout the yoga community.
And who wouldn't love a yogini who cooks up something as awesome as a rock and roll mantra!