To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mastery Year 1: Part 4: Post 7: Appropriation

"Why don't you teach real yoga?" asked June of Kit at breakfast.

“Well, I don’t teach fake yoga,” Kit answered, somewhat amused.

“You teach stretches you adapted from yoga,” June clarified. “That’s not what real yoga is about. You’re missing the spiritual component.”

“Maybe you just haven’t learned the spiritual part of it yet?” Kit countered. 

June rolled her eyes.

“You know what I mean.”

“I might, but I’m not convinced you do.”

In case you’ve forgotten, Kit teaches something she calls “practical yoga” three mornings a week. It’s basically aimed at teaching correct posture and ergonomic movement habits. I took it for a few years as a novice, and sometimes I still go to remind myself to move properly. I noticed that as a result of the class, not only do I get injured less often, I’m also more attractive to women. June says I am “graceful.”

Anyway, June can’t normally go, because it conflicts with Zazen, which is required for yearlings, but she did the afternoon make-up session of Zazen a few times in order to check it out. Now she’s full of questions.

“You’re not doing traditional yoga,” she said, finally.

“I’m not a traditional yoga teacher,” Kit explained, stirring thin goatmilk yogurt into a bowl full of berries. Some people put fresh fruit on their cereal. Kit tends to put cereal on her fruit.

“Look, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s alright, but just say so. Spouting tautologies is not going to make me give up.

Kit laughed, and passed the pitcher of yogurt on to the next person.

“I mean I’m not Indian,” she said. “I’m not Hindi. I don’t want to be Hindi, and my students aren’t Hindi. I don’t have the cultural context in which traditional yoga makes sense, so it wouldn’t really be traditional yoga if I taught it. I teach something else.”

“Truth in advertising?” asked my wife.

“Sort of. And not taking what’s not mine. Not benefitting from the social cachet of traditional yoga when it’s not really mine.”

Bennie, this year’s other one-hit wonder, and a woman, despite the name, was sitting on June’s other side and spoke up.

“Kit, everything you believe comes from somewhere else. You’re a collage. If you mind borrowing other people’s ideas so much, why aren’t you Christian, like your ancestors?”

“Before my ancestors were Christians, they were pagans.”

“Two thousand years ago.”

“Ben, you’re Wiccan, too,” said June.

“Yes, but I don’t pretend my religion isn’t made up out of stuff I borrowed.”

June shot Bennie a look. The comment was not the sort of thing normally said to one’s professors. But Kit just smiled.

“I don’t, either,” she said. “But I do make sure the people I borrow from get a good deal.”

This kind of conversation is par for the course here, especially if you want to eat with yearlings. They ask a lot of challenging “why” questions. It’s familiar, almost reassuring. And yet, for lunch I could not stomach it, no pun intended. I jumped on my bike and went into town to buy myself a sandwich, a Twinkie, and a coke. I haven’t done that sort of thing in years, and I don’t know why I did it now.

Eating that junk felt delightfully transgressive.

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