“been” yoga: a weekend at the omega institute
At the Friday night opening event, I set the intention to approach the weekend with an “adventurous and inquisitive spirit.” I wanted to get uncomfortable. I wanted to break down some preconceptions about my own practice and yoga culture in general. I wanted to get out of my “blogging bubble,” to stop analyzing and critiquing and observing, and just be.
There were moments of just being, and too many moments of observing and analyzing. But I definitely got uncomfortable and put myself in some new yoga situations. For me, being adventurous means cultivating courage in a Kundalini session (and feeling the reverberations of the gong for hours afterwards). Connecting with my occipital bone in yoga nidra. Bollywood dancing to a New Orleans kirtan band. Introducing myself to a teacher I’ve butted heads with online and telling her I honestly enjoyed her class (but I won’t stop critiquing her marketing approach, if necessary).
I’m still not sure what “being yoga” means, although I asked the question of many people (and three teachers – stay tuned for interview posts) over the weekend. I’m pretty sure that getting uncomfortable and asking questions (then wishing I’d asked harder questions) are part of how I “be” yoga.
On the spectrum of large-scale yoga gatherings, Being Yoga falls somewhere between the urban hotel
conference and the outdoor party-all-night festival scene. It has the structure and containment of traditional conference, and the sense of removal from everyday life that events like Wanderlust seem to promise.
Yet, with 210 people in attendance – the approximate number you’d find in the average workshop at a Yoga Journal conference – there was a feeling of intimacy and familiarity throughout the Omega grounds and in the sessions. It wasn’t unusual to see faculty (high profile yoga teachers) walking around sans entourage, hanging out in the garden or casually eating together at one of the large dining room tables.
What I appreciated most about Being Yoga is how it wasn’t trying to be anything it’s not. In a yoga world that’s becoming increasingly glamourized, hybridized and party-fied, this gathering was refreshingly uncool. It didn’t even try to be cool. It just was.
I can see how there would be the temptation to invite the hottest yoga-DJ-tight-jeans-hipsters and offer wine + yoga workshops to feel relevant and draw in a bigger, sexier crowd. Instead, there was a grounded and humble lack of pretension.
It will be interesting to see how Being Yoga (now in its fourth year hosted at the Omega Institute, following a number of years alternating between New York City and Florida) will evolve in the years ahead. And of course, it will be even more interesting to see how long the corporate sponsored/ski resort party yoga scene can sustain itself.
In the meantime, the rest of us will just keep practicing yoga and trying to understand what being means.