I read a post by a yoga guru/wellness expert/ life coach/truth seeker/positivity ambassador/abundance manifestor type person suggesting that there is no such thing as a stressful situation. Instead there is only a situation and how we feel in response to that situation is entirely a matter of personal choice. We should change our mindset so that we only focus on the positive. Always. Live it, feel it, project it.
No no no! That isn't positivity, it is dillusional. I believe in focusing on the good stuff and learning from the bad stuff. I really do. I have indulged myself by dwelling in a negative mindset for longer than I should have on many occasions. But if I read one more only positive vibes comment, one more comment suggesting that if you are anything other than a happy snappy yoga chappy ALL THE TIME then there must be something wrong with you then I may blow a yoga gasket. #onlypositivevibesmybollox
Truthfulness or satya is a concept central to the practice of yoga. Yoga is not about creating a real life Instagram filter where you are only allowed to look good, feel upbeat and happy. Yoga is about truthfully navigating through the full range of emotions that life presents. We all have work to do to deal with challenging situations more skillfully but we are allowed to feel stressed, a bit pissed off or downright furious at times. Yoga is about seeing the entire picture. No burying the bad stuff. No emotional censorship. No filters.
One of the disadvantages of social media is that everything looks pretty. I have struggled with the inherent dishonesty involved in posting yoga images (more on this at later date and yes I know there are many pictures on my website and my Instagram feed!) It is an acceptable form of pretending. If we see a picture of the beautiful yoga person arm balancing on a tropical beach it is natural to assume that if we do yoga amd embrace the yoga lifestyle we will look and feel like the beautiful yoga person. And hopefully end up on that tropical beach too. And if that person tells you to that being positive all the time is the only way to live and to achieve what they have achieved then it is natural to feel like you are doing something wrong if you haven't lived up to that image. But that picture is just a picture. It is not yoga. It is not real life. I would prefer if the beautiful yoga person also shared the effort and hard work they have put in. The challenges, the suffering or dukkha, the bad stuff as well as the good. Some do but most do not.
This approach is creeping into the yoga studio too. It is not everywhere but it is growing. I am very fortunate that I have never had to deal with a personal tragedy. But a new student who comes to my yoga class may have gone through an extraordinarily difficult time at some point in their life. I have no idea. To suggest that any saddness they may feel, either on or off the yoga mat, is their own fault is wrong, irresponsible and dangerous. As a teacher it is my role to offering the teachings of yoga to facilitate each individual to work within their own physical and mental space. It is not my job to coach or counsel. It is not my job to tell you how to feel. Most people feel better after a yoga session. Even if that just means they got out their heads for a while and more in touch with their body and breath. That is enough. Positivity coaching is not required and it may even undo all the good stuff that that person just achieved.
The yogic principles of truthfulness, non-judgement and to cause no harm can be life changing. They should not be confused with false positivity. Sometimes we feel positive. Sometimes we do not. Neither is right or wrong. Both should be embraced fully. Maybe it's time to delete the only positivity bullshit hashtags forever.