This morning, as I was sitting at my kitchen table contemplating the complexities of this path we call yoga, my Yogi Tea tag echoed my internal dialogue, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” This truth reminds us that we are not perfect, and our lives will not always be effortless, but we can work hard to remember the beauty and potential that thrives within us in each moment. On occasion, this paradox of human imperfection surfaces in a big way in the yoga world, as it has done recently in the split of business partners and fellow yoga teachers Colleen Saidman and Jessica Bellofatto and the North Hampton yoga studio, Yoga Shanti.
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In a bitter case of “she said, she said,” the two co-owners of the studio are battling over alleged financial indiscretion and slander with potential law suits flying and names being smeared publically. And to add complication to the already complex situation, Saidman’s husband, yoga big-wig Rodney Yee, has found his way into the mix. So how do you stay true to the path of yoga in the midst of all of the ugliness of our human experience?
Even if we’ve made the choice to step onto the spiritual path of yoga in a committed way, life seems to continue to be a series of challenges and obstacles. We are not automatically liberated from the mundane and sometimes sticky situations of our humanness. There are still bills to pay, vehicles that breakdown, relationships that are shaky and inevitable rocks and hard places that we fall into and get stuck. Does that mean that we cease to be yogis when our humanness interferes with our equilibrium (both inner and outer)? Of course not.
It is within these moments of challenge and bare humanness that we are called to access our spiritual core in the most powerful way. In times of challenge, tapping into our spirit and inner knowing can seem like the most difficult and absurd thing to do. But, we are told over and over again by the historic sages of this practice and through our individual experience that our spiritual self is our compass which will always, without fail, point us in the right direction. The direction in which we are guided may not be the easy road, and it may not lead to instant gratification and peace, but when attended to with commitment and conviction, it will always lead us to grace.
Both Bellofatto and Saidman are claiming the high road, though actions and words are often different than the defenses that support them, and both yoginis are forming their camps of support with the rich and famous filing in on both sides. In the end, only they will know whether the path they chose was one that upheld the ideals of the practice they claim to live and share with others. Eventually, the crisis will pass, and both teachers will assimilate the experience into their lives both human and spiritual. As a teacher, it is my hope for both them and their students, that they model their path in the midst of their challenges, and through living their humanness, teach others how to find their spirit.