Friday, March 1, 2013

Is race a factor when learning yoga?

as many of you know, i was supposed to attend a yoga retreat this past weekend. i was really excited because this particular practice is new to me. i expected some challenges and thought with the group support it would be a breeze. instead, the shit turned into a fcuking nightmare. i want to be clear, the facilitators are great; i'm not blaming them for anything that happened because it was out of their control. first, the logistics: when you have people coming from out of town telling them about PARKING are critical. i spent an hour driving around trying to find a parking space. as a result i missed the entire opening yoga sequence that binds the group together. my purpose for attending was to deepen my practice and engage in the therapeutics. this sets the foundation for the practice. without trust, there's no way you can properly support a member of the trio. because i was so preoccupied with PARKING(every 2 fcuking hours) i couldn't be present and focus on what was being taught. i left the room to get help with the PARKING app; that was another 20 minutes. when i tried to rejoin the group i was told i couldn't. mind you, i've missed an entire hour and now this tree(dude was that tall) is telling me i have to sit outside until the group is done and he'll tell me when i can go back in. first thought through my mind is WTF DUDE!!! i would have stayed in the room but thought it was disrespectful. i didn't want to get a ticket; i figured it was best to handle the situation PRONTO. tick tock, tick tock another 30 minutes passes by and i can finally enter the room right before we break for lunch. lucky me(can you sense the sarcasm here) i get lunch since i've had nothing to eat and hope for a better afternoon.

lo and behold this only gets worse(as if that was possible). we break up into groups of 3 and for whatever reason, i feel completely isolated and alone because no one seems interested in working with me. i ask one lady standing by the wall if we can practice together and i sense her disinterest. it isn't until a very cheery white lady joins us that she cheers up. so i'm thinking to i smell? is there a sign on my forehead that says damaged goods? we finish the sequences and the facilitator says switch groups. like a gaggle of geese, those who know each other and have bonded are off working together. at this point, i feel like the ugly duckling because i'm standing alone looking lost. i hide out in the bathroom for as long as i can and plan on joining the group on the next series. the next exercise is communication. i have a very O P E N throat chakra(like you haven't noticed that by now). i ask 3 ladies if i can join their group. everyone has to say something positive and provide feedback about the last series to the other members of the group. since i didn't participate in the last sequence there's not much for me to add. my nerves are fried, attitude sucks balls and all i want to do is curl up to a bottle of chilled tequila and get drunk. i do my best to keep it light because everyone else is happy, hippie and feeling yummy. got damn it, i want to feel yummy too but it's not happening and the more i try to force it the more i crave that bottle of tequila. i don't know why i chose tequila at that particular moment, i never really drank it much but it seemed like the perfect drink for this screwed up situation.

the facilitator says that it's OKAY(remember this because it's really important) for us to sit out if we're not feeling present. we can STAY and watch, go for a walk and rejoin the group when we're ready. since this series was more complicated than the last one and i only had 15 minutes left on my parking meter, i thought it best to sit it out. i'm practically hiding in the corner like a feral cat trying my best to stay out of everyone's way when bi-racial chick with buggy eyes tells me that if i'm not participating i HAVE TO leave. emphasis on the words "have to". fighting back tears, i tell her that i'm going to watch and my parking is about to expire that i'll join the group when everyone finishes this series. at this point, the heffa tells me i can do that outside in the lobby. beoytch i don't want to sit in the lobby. i didn't fly all the way from atlanta to sit in the fcuking lobby. i tell this cow that this is the 3rd time i'm been asked to leave. she's acknowledges what i said and goes on and on about safety and all this other bullshit. at this point, i've had enough. i want to ram my fist down her throat. i grab my stuff to leave. now she takes it seriously that i'm upset and asks tries to stop me from leaving. i'm storming down the stairs and she has the nerve audacity to say that i'll miss the announcements. does it look like i muthafcuking care about some got damn bullshit announcements? really heffa? are you that stupid, that you can't tell when another black woman is past her wits end? apparently, this trick didn't get it......because she was still talking. STFU!!!!!! the icing on the cake came when she told the white receptionist to keep an eye on me. really beoytch? as angry as i am with tears streaming down my face do you really think that i would jeopardize my freedom and fcuk up someones business over your sorry ass? the cherry on to top came when she said she hopes i'd come back tomorrow so we can work together. i wanted to round house kick her ass up the flight of stairs. i was floored, disgusted, insulted, pissed the fcuk off, shocked that a fellow yogi could be that freaking insensitive. that another woman, presumably a person of color would go out of her way to impress her white counterparts at the expense of another person, namely me.

everything that happened this weekend, put this practice in such a negative light. i've spent the last few days wondering if this is something i want to continue pursuing. i met a lot of cool people last november. i thought i was ready for this. i was the only black person taking yoga back in state college or at least it felt that way. i wasn't put off because everyone had a common goal and that was to practice yoga. this experience brought up more questions than answers. instead of feeling relaxed and uplifted, i left feeling dejected and depressed. that's not the experience i paid for. for those of you who practice yoga or any type of healing modality is this common? do you feel like the outcast in the group? in case you're wondering, i didn't go back. i didn't have the heart to. i felt so defeated and couldn't express myself without cursing and crying that i stayed in VA and played with my friend's dog. he made me laugh because he farted. that's another story for another day. peace      


juneous said...

I do at time feel like an outcast at many yoga trainingsand workshops that I have taken. I come with the intertion of learning something new and taking what I learn back to my students/clients. I do not let people's ignorance/judgement phaze me one bit. I am on a mission. I am unsually the only black-black male to be exact-at a lot of the training, workshops, retreats, etc. so I work under the notion that I am automatically under the spotlight when I enter the classroom. I walk in the room like I own it and that my blood is just as red as their blood. Having said that, I would not cast judgement on a single style based on the actions of a few people. You expressed interest in that style for a reason. Stick with it and hell with the people. Without fully knowing your situation, maybe it would be helpful to assess the role you may have played. There are two sides to every situation. Remember every situation is a learning experience and things happen for a reason.

Ruhi Shanthi, black latina yogi said...

I went in with high expectations. I was exhausted from all the traveling and each incident exasperated it more. I'm sure I played a role in it. When that chick went there my rational was gone which is why I didn't cuss her out. It was rude & unnecessary especially coming from another person of color. Whatever she was going through had nothing to do with me. If we're reflections of one another acting with more compassion would have gone a long way. I agree each situation is a learning experience, this is one I would have liked to have skipped.

Yeeskah said...

Beloved, thinking on unpleasant lessons we would like to skip, is said they are designed to help us experience something important on this phase of our life's journey, and 'skipping' them only delays us reaping the benefit/joy/love on the other side of working/learning/living through them to our next level of consciousness. And they are bound to come up again and again, until we learn to submit to them, becoming humble to receive what it is that experience is designed to teach us...accept the pain, stop the resistance, give up, give in, go in, ask, "What is it that I need to learn/know/remember from this experience?", and wait for the answer. Then, breathe, smile, and wait for the next one!