November 20, 2013

Notes Hanging in Midair

I am being published! My UPG on using the divine madness of the maenad to alleviate symptoms of my bipolar disorder will be appearing in Bibliotheca Alexandrina's upcoming anthology Crossing the River, on sacred journeys. It's entitled "I shall set free my hair and wear a fawn skin", and will be published under the name Rebecca Lynn Scott. I hope some of you will pick it up, and let me know what you think. I'll be sure to post when it's actually available for sale.

I really must remember that taking even a few days off from spinning on the charkha badly affects how well I do. I've had some very bad sleep cycle problems lately, so I've been skipping it during morning rituals. I was getting quite good, getting a lot done, wasting less, and even starting to be able to do the magic trick of the long draw, evening out slubs just by gently pulling. And then I took four or five days off, and today was awful. Ah, well, it's the nature of the beast, and all I can do is pick it up again and keep going. Like any practice, like during a session of meditation itself.

My brother is now a yoga instructor for Broga (yes, that's yoga for bros, or at least men). I've taken a couple of yoga before, and it's one of the few forms of exercise I really enjoy, that really makes my body feel the way fitness people always tell me exercise will make me feel. (The only other that that do that for me are swimming and horseback riding.) The last time, I started to take Yoga for Round Bodies at the Whole Life Yoga Center. Unfortunately, I had some physical problems that prevented me from finishing the class. But it was good. Really good. Now my brother is going to send me some videos that he likes that includes instructors of various body types, including a fat woman, and which stresses doing only what your body can do, and not pushing too hard. Taking up a yoga practice again sounds wonderful.

The problem with it is cultural appropriation. Yoga is an Indian practice, spiritual as well as physical, and exists within a specific cultural context. White Westerners who wish to practice it usually either selectively adopt a whole slew of Indian cultural bits, like wearing saris and bindis, eating Indian food extensively, saying "Namaste" in inappropriate contexts, all kinds of things. But they take them out of their original context, and they do it from a position of privilege, never having to experience the discrimination against Indian people that exists in the Western world, and not having to deal with the continued weight of more than a hundred years of colonialism and oppression against them.

The other thing we do is utterly divorce yoga from its original context, treating it as a purely physical practice, or perhaps adding a bit of meditation or chakra work, never learning anything about the original context or practices at all.

Frankly, I'm not sure what to do so as to minimize cultural appropriation in my practice. I'm mostly interested in the physical aspects, as I have my own spiritual and magical practices, and just want a way to move my body and train my muscles that feels good and increases my consciousness of this part of me.

I dunno. It's a question I'll have to study and consider carefully. I want to understand what it is as best I can as an outsider, even as I don't want to adopts all parts of it. I'm reading Decolonizing Yoga (which has videos on yoga for fat people) and South Asian American Perspectives on Yoga in America, and some other things. We shall see.

Labyrinths continue to turn up here and there, and I continue to walk mine as part of my morning rituals. Come the new moon, when I will have been doing it for a full lunar cycle, I'll start to do some deeper work.

Today I lit the last candle of Forty Days of Ritual for Reproductive Justice. I feel pretty good about it. Every bit of energy and work helps in these things.