Certified/Certifiable

The forecast is mild. There will be no winter. I surrender to daffodils recklessly rising against the odds that they will not be smitten by unreasonable fortune’s turn. You know, when you least expect it……

This strange space does not leave the energy known as human indifferent. There is opportunity in emptiness of unfamiliarity to ponder in new ways.

A friend’s father is hospitalized and nearly killed by inefficiency, incompetence, indifference.  One knows these days that you do not sit still in a metal folding bed of rough white bleach tortured sheets over a thin plastic covered foam pad waiting in your soft worn hospital gown so immodestly covered and held together with shoe string for the death knell. One calls in support.

Why are these places of healing so dangerous? What fault is it that allows otherwise kind and thoughtful and reasonably intelligent life forms to disgrace their profession with sloppiness?  I’m no reporter here. I don’t have an audience to educate with facts.  For now I just want to question. And I want to say, back- off to you who will defend the white coated forces. I respect them too. I know there is much good. It is the trappings of the establishment that worry me, the thing that mutates when housed in airless rooms inside cities of  hand sanitized micro waved institutions of conformity  managed by teams of paper shufflers and bureaucrats.

Will this mess soon absorb the thing known as yoga?

A friend recently offered her opinion that when yoga teachers brought up the idea of yoga in the medical field they opened Pandora’s Box.  Yoga would be regulated by the government. You would pay your yearly fees for this and that re-certification and fill coffers and you would answer to people who know nothing of your profession. That was her take and I suppose I can see it. The states would hire ‘professional’s, who are likely just big yoga outfits and those people manage the new bureaucracy and well you know how it could go.

And I thought about something that keeps coming up called Adaptive Yoga which is yoga for at risk populations and for professionals who want to offer the benefits of yoga and meditation without any trappings of foreignness, religiousness, spookiness.

I answered a call to teach “Adaptive Yoga” to mentally challenged people at an outpatient facility. I was a bit suspicious when they requested someone who was not certified but working toward a certification. The interviewer said that he had done some research on me and was concerned that I was over qualified. I protested that though most everyone I know is either mentally or emotionally challenged to some degree that I had no experience with this population but he persisted. He said the teacher was expected to follow a book written by a local M.D. who had gotten a perfunctory yoga degree and written a book on yoga. I glanced through the book and tried to hide my impatience with something so frankly infuriating. He said they were looking for someone with unlimited time and someone less “experienced”.

I walked away confused and realized after they told me that they hired someone without any commitments and no certification, that they wanted to groom someone to teach yoga mechanically, by this book, adapted to someone else’s idea of what the yoga should be.

I’ve been thinking that most of the yoga that’s popular today is Adaptive Yoga. It’s the physical stuff and some of the breathing stuff and some of the mind-full stuff and it could be called thoughtful exercise or body alignment or any number of things. I have certainly taught that.

So perhaps Adaptive Yoga will become the yoga for the masses and the yoga for medicine and then all other yoga will be what yoga used to be before we needed names to define it. All yoga would be Bhakti. And yoga would be practiced by fringe people out of the limelight, people who are not certified, not doing yoga for business, not talking yoga, not marketing yoga, not competing with yoga. And yoga will be right where it started in this country. A tie-dyed contemplative practice for those suspicious outsiders that find themselves enlivened by the practice and study of a thing that has no license and no PLU number or tracking code or department or use.

Like I said, just enjoying the curve ball of Springtime in Winter and pondering.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Certified/Certifiable

  1. drbinder

    All things evolve, adapt. And they usually get more complex during the process. Today I was looking at a protist under a microscope. It is literally the same as it was a billion years ago. Therefore, on an evolutionary scale, they are much more “advanced” then a human being. They have adapted to the global ice ages and extinctions, yet maintained their identity. Even though they are not as complex as us 500 trillion celled organisms, they have definitely been around a lot longer. There is something sacred to that.

    Here’s to “everyone i know is mentally or emotionally challenged…”

    • While I appreciate the scientific appreciation of protozoa, I’m not entirely sure you got where I’m coming from here. I wasn’t making a stand against adaptation. If so, I would be the first perpetrator as I slid into yoga through the music when the music was rock and roll and my avenue of movement was laced with dance and some of the old school yoga establishment looked at me with suspicion and thought me a pox on the sanctity of the tradition before this stuff was allowable.

      I believe in communicating in ways that resonate with people living at this time but I also believe that yoga is a science that takes some skill in experience and some saturation with its principles, its history, it’s discussion or it becomes something else. A good teacher can take that into a more familiar realm and maintain the essence. You can distill what you want from it and do good work. But if it looses all cellular quality, so to speak, it has not adapted but mutated. This again, is not bad if the mutation helps people. But it is not yoga anymore.

      Anything good can go bad when it’s mismanaged whether it’s a business problem or bureaucratic problem. So I picture yoga trapped in a hospital gown and tethered to feeding tubes.

      I grew up in a conservative Jewish synagogue. I spent three days a week for ten years there and the thing that stuck with me was the music. Now Jewish religious melodies are constantly modernized so that the music you remember, the music in your cells, the more ancient music in the ancient tongue disappears as the temple hopes to entice the modern world to stay with the religion. I am so tied to the music that I have to blot out the sound of prayer now spoken or modernized to hear the old melodies in my head to stay in the game so to speak. It feels like the soul is sucked out of something that I was connected to again, on a cellular level.

      This religion also modifies its teachings with the times, constantly re-thinking, re-interpreting past works to make sense of today. This is adaptation. This is perfect.

      If it was up to me, the music would stay the same preserving the chants but the teachings would continue to evolve to embrace current affairs. I would like to think there is room for the past in the present and that includes me.

      Huge love to you and thank you for being here and also for hearing me fumble in the dark for a way to explain what words sometimes don’t accomplish.

  2. Based on my experience, I’d say that it’s probably only the administrators of “Adaptive Yoga” programs that want all of the “foreignness, religiousness, spookiness” washed out of it. When I’ve taught in non-traditional settings – a homeless shelter, jail, and foster care facility – I’ve found that there’s more students interested in these more non-standard dimensions of yoga than in your typical studio class. Other teachers I’ve talked to have said the same thing – there’s more of a hunger for something that feels truly vital.

    • All the greater shame if the administrators create the framework, as they have already done in many instances and I suspect, will continue to do so. When something is incorporated, regulations for better and worse will occur. And I have found the same need in populations less mainstream than the local studios. My answer is to get it in any way, in the most gentle manner so that the students can benefit without the suits freaking out.

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