When I go to particular yoga classes, especially in the city, its like going on a pilgrimage. I get into my car or hop onto transit to travel all the way from Coquitlam to Vancouver to arrive at Yoga Mecca. People from all walks of life, from all areas of the city come together for this time of self-worship. Part of it is the atmospheric energy of the studio and part of it is the congregation of dozens of people.
And not every studio exudes this form of sacred space. There are many elements which add up to this experience. The mood of the room evokes an anticipation that transforms the students mental state and physiology to prepare itself for what is about to come. Lights are dimmed to sepia, a background bass that rattles the bones, a temperature that heats our half-naked bodies to feel like being wrapped in a thin coat of mud, a whispering murmur among the crowd that’s careful not to disturb the pre-stretchers and silent meditators. The tightly organized rows of practitioners here are not looking for a mild hip opening experience, we want to bend over backwards and see god.
The teacher, the space holder enters the temple and binds all of these forces together. She gets our mind focused on our body and moulds the minds of many into an uplifted cloud. It continues to rise from the Earth and pools together as energy circles around the room and builds even higher up through the centre column. The room humidifies and is mystified by a trance beyond the state of our external self. People no longer care about what she’s wearing, what he’s doing, how sexy she is, how unsexy he is, there’s only you and your practice. The ceilings begin to rain with sweat and my forehead salivates like a downward facing dog. We roll onto our backs and lift the legs high, the shoulders on our back and the feet lifted above. It’s sustained and held with steadfast devotion towards the mother of all poses, Sarvangasana. My water breaks, the eyes close, the blood and tears evaporate and I die, dead in my corpse, forever forgotten and eternal.
I rise, sitting, stoic, thoughtless, effortless, bliss. Silence.
At all levels of the human experience, a mutally internal and external transformation that occurs in no more than 75 – 90 mins (when taught skillfully)
Cult-like? Yes. By definition – a group bound together by devotion and reverance of the same thing, person, ideal.
But everything’s a cultish now.Whether we’re twisted into pretzels, lining up for a longer, uglier version of the same cellphone, following Bieber on Twitter, lets face it, we’re all active cult members, who are we kidding?
Hey, don’t look at me like that, I just do as I’m told!