Yoga in the closet

feet on grass.JPGI’m just back from a weekend visiting my family. A time for deep connection with those who know me most intimately, back in the house I grew up in. A time for reminiscing and replaying familiar jokes. A time for easy company, and well-established roles. In some senses a total reconnection with where I came from.

And yet, where am I now, and who am I now?

On some levels I’m still very much the same person, but so much has also changed on the inside and on the outside, and it’s a source of curiosity to my family.

My brother was incredulous that I was learning Sanskrit, my mother quizzed me about the Ganesha pendant and beads I wear, my father just looked mistrustful about everything. “You’ve gone all new-agey” was his terse — and rather offensive! — comment.

anjali mudraSo I sneaked off to my bedroom to do my practice. My mother walked in on me sitting afterwards with my hands in añjali mūdra. Weirdly she felt the need to do a stage-whispered apology at the intrusion and back out the room, though I found out afterwards she’d come looking for me with a cup of tea so she could sit and watch my practice, as though it was some kind of performance.

I’m feeling weirdly guilty at not meeting the family’s expectations of continuity and familiarity, nor yet allowing myself to be a spectacle or to talk casually about things that mean so much to me.

Back in my own life, my path is all about welcoming change and seeing new possibilities. But somehow this seems a criticism of how things once were and what was offered to me by my family.

I feel like a closet-yogini.

8 thoughts on “Yoga in the closet

  1. Wonderful reflections BC! Having been born and raised in a Christian household, it is a very tough sell when discussing your practices with family members (and worse old FB friends). It doesn’t help that yoga is so commercialized and popular now. My advice: show your mum a pose that has helped you overcome xyz problems (genetically there is a high probability she has the same issues). Your dad will realize the value when your mom feels better. And in a loving, gentle way, tell your brother to go learn his own foreign language and butt out!

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  2. PS. My father in law used to give me a hard time about doing yoga. When I would use the chair to open his back, he then saw the value. Even near the end of life when he was in pain and agony, he would actually ask me to play healing mantras. Our job isn’t to proselytize, our job is to create awareness.

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    • Thank you for such helpful and interesting suggestions. No, definitely not proselytising! As the youngest in the family, there’s no option for that!! 🙂 But it felt funny being the centre of attention when I was not looking for that and then not knowing how to respond. How do you explain? Yoga is an experience; there’s only so far words can go.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can really identify with your experience, babycrow. I can’t really share much of my experience of my practice with my family… it’s just not where they’re at. I read somewhere that our family isn’t our real family! – as in, the tribe with whom we have the most in common. Sonia, bbcrow, and yogibattle – you feel like part of my tribe! But I appreciate that my biological family teaches me tolerance towards folks with very different perspectives and practices. That’s invaluable…

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    • I guess I have much to learn about how and how much to share my practice. You know that feeling that the question being asked isn’t the one you’d be comfortable answering or the one you think would say the most? And I get so frustrated with the look of things rather than the experience of them. Who cares what necklace I wear or if my asana practice is interesting to watch? oh, I think maybe I am proselytising after all…. 😉

      And yes I love my yoga tribe too in all its incarnations, online and closer at hand. I feel honoured that you all offer support and wisdom. I’m still just flapping about in my practice and my understanding 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Lovely sharing babycrow!
    My family sees yoga as a very physical practice since it is only asana they see when I visit. I keep the other stuff away from them since it feels very private and personal and also because it may disturb my mother. I grew up in a Christian household too and she was quite cut up when the parish struck me off their rolls. That happened many years ago when I married outside the religion. So, out of respect for her sensibilities, I keep everything other than asana out of her sight. She has done asana with me a few times and is okay with the ‘exercise’ so that’s where it is at for now. And eventually I guess yoga is really about finding your own path of the spirit/religion. I find greater appreciation now for the religion of my birth while choosing to study and practise the philosophy of Hinduism.
    It was a bit of a yo-yo for me initially but one way that works is to be what they knew me as. It doesn’t take anything away from me while they feel comforted that I am the same familiar person.
    Eventually, everything blossoms in the ripeness of time.
    Completely agree with Kate.. You are my community, my yoga family. Thank you all for being part of my journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for this lovely comment, Sonia. Yes, I can see the difficulty for your relationship with your mother, given those circumstances. OTOH I don’t think I’m *replacing* anything (I grew up in a god-free household) so the threat is not so obvious. I guess they’re uncomfortable at me finding something that isn’t from them, and so makes me different to the way the family used to be. So much attachment! 🙂

      Reading through the comments from you, K8 and yogibattle has been very supportive and I’m glad (in a sense!) that I’m not the only one with this difficulty. But I can also see that there is a whole spectrum of possible responses and I need to find my balance of authenticity and familiarity. Avoiding yo-yoing would be good!

      Just another aspect of practice. How to integrate it into other parts of life. Actually when I put it that way, it’s pretty serious and worth paying some significant attention to!

      thank you so much x

      Liked by 1 person

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