I began this blog post a few weeks ago and it’s suddenly even more apropos:
Yes, I’m a yoga teacher. Yes, I practice in an alternative health field. I might not go so far as to say the yoga and Ayurveda saved my life (although likely it has), but I will go so far as to say that yoga and Ayurveda have given me the tools to navigate life (and it’s challenges) with more grace. Yoga and Ayurveda have helped me to meet health challenges with more self compassion and to move forward with greater wellness than I otherwise would have. Yoga and Ayurveda have changed my life and made it better and me healthier.
Yes, I’m a yoga teacher. Yes, I practice in an alternative health field.
What are the saddest words I’ve heard this past year?
“I’m sorry. I failed. I had to go on medications (or have a surgery or whatever).” Literally: “I’m sorry, I failed.” Those are the saddest words I’ve heard this past year and I’ve heard them a lot.
We failed? We failed because we used all the resources and tools available to us to bring us back to health and wellness? We failed because we used modern science in addition to yoga and Ayurveda or whatever other alternative health practices we also use? We failed because we needed more help?
I don’t think that’s a failure.
I’m going to say that again: I don’t think that’s a failure.
You have not failed me. You have not failed yourself. Medications and surgery and all the forms of medicine are here to support us when we need it. In fact, I’d rather you headed to the ER over me in an acute situation (hence the message on all our voice mails that say: if this is an emergency call 9-1-1). I mean that. Go to your doctor, go to the ER, go to urgent care if needed!
I consider myself one who practices complementary health. Complementary; it’s part of a package. It’s not excluding of other methods of healing, it is a part of the big picture to get to wellness. Many of us would not be here without medical interventions (myself included). Let me repeat that too: Many of us would not be here without medical interventions. And I am SO GRATEFUL to the doctors and nurses who have saved my life. Those practices are part of an integrative well rounded wellness.
Because, recently, all yoga teachers have been lumped together on a “side”. I’ve even heard that we have failed, or sold out, if we got a vaccine or had to use allopathic medicine. I will say this. We have not “failed” or “sold out”. We are not all shaped from the same cookie cutter with the same thoughts and ideas. This is how I feel:
I am a yoga teacher. I practice Ayurvedic medicine. I also got a Covid vaccine. I also don’t consider that a failure. I don’t feel that I have failed in my self care practices by choosing to get a vaccine that could save a life. Maybe my own, but most certainly potentially someone else’s. To me, the benefits outweigh the risks. Perhaps more science will come out and we will have some sort of repercussions from the vaccine (who knows), but right now, the benefits of the vaccine to society outweigh the risks. The benefits to myself, my family, my practice, and my students outweigh the risks.
I also practice the sister science to yoga, which is Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a living, progressing science which includes all the modern tools of medicine. For me, that includes potential life saving vaccines. It also includes all medicine and surgery…in fact some of the ancient Ayurvedic texts are the first sources of surgical practices. There is some food for thought.
This is NOT to judge your personal choices if you feel that you do not need a vaccine, but it is a gentle reminder that no one has “failed” because they are concerned enough about their own health and the health of those around them who may not be in as good a shape to get a vaccine so that we can begin to come back to our lives. No one has failed, or sold out, because they went to their doctor and decided that medications or surgery were their best choice.
We all make different choices and at the root of yoga is nonHarming. Let’s not judge those who had to go on meds or have surgery (they already have their own stresses over it, it’s not our job to add to it). In fact, as a healer (and fellow human beings on the journey), I think we do better when we meet people where they are at. Some of us have deep seeded khavaigunas (weak spaces) that we may never “overcome” in this lifetime and it doesn’t help anyone when we make each other feel like “we failed”. Our job as healers (and fellow human beings on the journey) is to lift one another up, most especially when we are feeling our weakest and most vulnerable.
Guilt and shame are not helpers on the healing journey.
Let’s not judge those who have chosen to get a vaccine and not to only trust in their self care practices to keep them well. Let us not judge those who have chosen differently.
A yoga teacher is not a cookie shaped from the same cookie cutter. We come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, and opinions. We are all in different places in our lives, and on our journeys, and one size doesn’t fit all. We’re all unique and different and special. With this uniqueness, comes unique and different thought processes and needs.
But at the root of the practice is Kindness and Courage.
Be Kind. Have Courage.