Read more about the article i am not a “good vibes only” yoga teacher
Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga, Grays Harbor Aberdeen, WA

i am not a “good vibes only” yoga teacher

Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga, Grays Harbor Aberdeen, WA

I’ve been wading through the Americanized versions of yoga and there’s something that bugs me.

Okay there’s more than one thing.

But here’s a start:

The “good vibes only” yoga messaging is just terrible.

And it really, really is EVERYWHERE.

First of all – the “no negative energy, please” messaging is not based on yoga’s history.

There’s nothing in the 5,000 year old practices of yoga emphasizing “good vibes only” enough to where you’d sloganize it on a t-shirt.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga start us with the Yamas and Niyamas – that is, spiritual practices and personal observances respectively.

These are as follows:

The Yamas
Ahimsa (non-violence)
Satya (truthfulness)
Asteya (non-stealing)
Brahmacharya (moderation of the senses/our energy), and
Aparigraha (non-greed) – 

The yamas teach us how to behave in an ethical framing – how to conduct ourselves in the world.

The Niyamas
Saucha 
(cleanliness or purity)
Santosa
 (contentment)
Tapas
 (discipline)
Svadhyaya
 (self-study)
Ishvara Pranidhana
 (surrender to the Higher Self)

The niyamas invite us to find joy and strength in our personal practices – our inner disciplines.

So right away we have our first two limbs of yoga and TEN practices we can study –

and there’s no mention of or tone implying “good vibes only”.

If anything, the yamas and niyamas indicate disciplines and practices to employ – regardless of whether we’re feeling groovy about it or not.

So to be honest I am not sure where all the “good vibes only” came form, but I’ll tell you one thing:

Your bad vibes are welcome in your practice.

Your bad vibes are welcome in my studio space!

I don’t want you to avoid class – or practice at home – because you’re in a “bad vibes’ place, and can’t snap out of it.

I want you to practice regularly and learn to let your “bad vibes” show up too – maybe you can start to (gasp!) make friends with those bad vibes!

The thing is…

If we only practice yoga when we feel good, then we’re going to skip a lot of practice.

And if we only practice yoga to instantly get some kind of result – we’ll give up when we don’t get what we want.

If we only practice yoga to change how our body looks or what impressive bendy shapes we can make – we’ll give up there, too, when progress doesn’t happen the way we want to, or as fast as we want to.

If we only practice yoga to lose weight or get those toned abs – 

we are not only being a fair-weather friend to yoga,

we are being a fair-weather friend to ourselves.

I invite you to be a best friend to yourself.

It’s a really smart investment, relationship-wise!

why I don’t say “namaste” at the end of class

I don’t say “namaste” at the close of class. 

This is a deliberate choice on my part, and here are some reasons why:

1. Many South Asians object to this, or at the very least find it annoying; because:

2. “Namaste” doesn’t mean what many white American yoga teachers say it means: The Light Within Me Honors The Light Within You“. It actually means something more like, “greetings to you”, or even “‘sup?”

3. “Namaste” has been over-commercialized and, frankly, bastardized. You may have noticed all the t-shirts and yoga bags out there – MANUFACTURED IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH IN SWEATSHOPS, MIND YOU – cultivating a “spiritual gangster” or a groovy “yoga chic” message. That is not for me.

4. If I’m going to teach yoga, all eight limbs of yoga, and lead my students through this learning journey then I think we owe it to the practice to deepen our understanding wherever we can.

I don’t say “namaste” at the close of class.

I do say “Om Namah Shivaya” and I invite you to join me!

But you can say anything you like at the end of class – for instance, you could simply say “thank you!” – or you can refrain from speaking and bowing.

Please do what feels comfortable.

Remember, I am here to provide space, safety, nurture and care!

(and of course, share some of my yoga education!)

Thank you for listening!

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