I’m going to wager that we have all been in a group yoga/workout class in some form or another. Maybe it was gym class in highscool, maybe it was a studio, or gym. We might be aware of the cultures in these places, how we felt in these places and how we felt when we left; it may have been more subtle.
I’ve been in a lot of these places myself, heck I’ve worked in a couple. In these places, and an unfortunate majority that I see there are two messages that I really disagree with and are straight up bull crap.
1. Freakin diet culture. So many of these places are laden with diet culture messaging, it really gets under my skin; just in case you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, let me give you a little run down. (read: rant)
Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious. It isn’t always references to weight loss, sometimes its only ever seeing skinny, white bodies doing ridiculously fancy poses on IG or magazines. I’m telling you, search ‘yoga beautiful’ and that’s what you’ll see. Sometimes in these places there is no inclusion for the ways different people with different bone structures function. Think: One way teaching. ie. your legs have to be together for this squat pose. Do they? do they? nope!
Anyway, back to my point…in these places the focus tends to be movement for weight loss, for changing our bodies, punishing our bodies, earning, and lots of mean messages disguised as loving ones. Sometimes there also mirrors in these spaces and because of the diet-culture tone, and our personal histories we focus on how we look, how we think we need to look instead of how we feel.
2. Good Vibes Only. You’ve heard it, you’ve seen it on t-shirts. Maybe you’ve felt it when you tried to talk to your teacher about how you had a bad day and they hit you back with a good ol ‘let it go! focus on your breath!’ That is not how this being human works. This is especially prevalent in westernized yoga environments, it’s also called ‘spiritual bypassing’
Spiritual by-passing is a way of hiding behing spirituality or spiritual practices. It prevents people from awkowledging their feelings, or someone else’s feelings. It’s super rude, and invalidating and it’s rampant in fitness and yoga industries. Examples: ‘I don’t feel sad because I’m not attached, I practice non-attachment’, ‘focus on the positive, good vibes only!’, love and light, ‘anger is a destructive emotion, the only thing to fear is fear itself’, ‘you create your own reality, manifest a happier life’. *I will note that these practices themselves aren’t the issue, it’s how they’re used/talked about/weaponized*
I hate both of those messages.
Both of those messages exclude most people. Both of those messages are mean, and I want to burn them along with the patriarchy.
First of all diet culture is rooted in racist bs, BMI is inaccurate and also rooted in racism. The existance of diet culture supresses folx, in paticular women.
I’ll leave it there for today, but I’ll chat more about this another time.
Our size doesn’t relate to what our body is capable of.
Our size doesn’t relate to our health.
Our size doesn’t relate to our worth, our value, our beauty, or our strength.
Second of all good vibes only denies a big part of what it is to be human. Difficult feelings are normal, and aren’t bad. It is good and needed to feel sad, and angry. Feeling our feelings aren’t bad, our feelings are not our enemies. Our feelings are important messages from ourselves.
Furthermore: when it comes to trauma, mental illness and abuse healing spiriual-bypassing is dangerous. It’s exclusive, fake, and mean.