Updated: Sep 20, 2020
By Adrian Molina
What’s happening to yoga these days is no joke. From a certain point of view it's a tragedy, but it's one that, I hope, has a happy ending.
If you saw the recent article in the New York Times about the death of yoga studios and the proliferation of online teaching, you know that something really transformative is happening to the industry.
A renewed sense of independence, a renewed sense of going back to basics, to the teachings. The freedom to teach anywhere.
I took a walk on the beach this morning and saw three groups practicing yoga with social distancing. A couple of days ago I taught at a yoga event in a parking lot with seventy participants following same guidelines. Things are changing.
I stepped down from teaching yoga at a gym or a studio because something inside me knew the end of a chapter was coming. And, I hope, a rebirth.
I am not afraid to say that yoga studios have always been overrated. It’s not surprising that they are dying as we are forced to practice apart.
What is surprising is that the practice is evolving faster than our small brains can process.
We no longer depend on a physical space, on a membership, on an affiliation. And to some extent, these challenging times have motivated and inspired many of us to really dive into self-practice, which, ultimately, is how we want to experience yoga in its entirety.
It is time to break with paradigms and create new methodologies, more inclusive ways of connecting to the practice. At a deeper level, it’s time to purge yoga of all the patriarchal, systemic, cultish stuff that snuck in during the last couple of decades. Bye-bye BS. Hello sweet and much-needed yoga.
I believe in empowering people to practice yoga, to go inward and feel and make changes accordingly, as they are guided by a skillful, knowledgeable teacher.
I no longer believe that the practice has to be anchored in yoga studios and gyms.
I no longer believe in practicing yoga unless it is related to something that empowers the community at large. I believe that yoga opens my mind to the reality of my world and to the needs of my community and that the practice of postures or techniques detached from a social component is not what is needed.
So, I hope my excitement about what’s happening in the world of yoga doesn’t rub you the wrong way.
As sad as I am to see yoga studios and chains closing left and right, I am so happy to see people keeping the practice alive in gardens, parks, beach, private homes, and, of course, online.
Online practice? Do you want to know what I think? I LOVE IT.
Why? Because the love of the practice transcends the bodies in the room.
Do we really need to be next to one another to learn more or better or to get a stronger practice? I don't think so. It’s ok if you disagree. But I get the same, if not more, satisfaction from teaching online than in person.
Yoga has never been about the proximity to another person. It is about the proximity to your own heart and soul. Your teachers and your gurus are within your heart and not pacing around you in a room.
So, yes, these are exciting times in the yoga world.
And at another level, you know what excites me? The shifting . . . the shifting of power dynamics. Yoga Alliance can’t keep up. Something better has to come along soon.
Yoga is expanding like the webs coming out of Spiderman’s hands. Webs extending to homeless shelters, hospitals, community centers, police and fire stations. Big players in the fitness industry can’t catch up quickly enough.
Yoga is needed more than ever before. The second wave of Covid-19 is not Covid-19 itself but a surge in mental-health struggles, as so many of us try to make sense of how the world went bananas in 2020. People across our society are going to need tools for self-regulation more than ever before.
And you know what is one of the best self-regulation tools we have?
So let’s go, yogis. Don’t panic. We got this!
Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga since 2004, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow. Adrian is also a writer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, End-of-Life Doula, Mental Health First Aid facilitator, an ambassador for Accessible Yoga and Yoga for All, and soon to be a TCTSY facilitator. Adrian is recognized as a community organizer and founder of The Warrior Flow Foundation, a 501c3 non profit that brings the benefits of movement, therapeutic and accessible yoga, mindfulness, and stress reduction tools to schools, shelters, hospitals, police, first responders, and hospice care. He is also the co-founder of Warrior Flow TV, an online video platform that makes fitness and yoga accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The Warrior Flow blog highlights leaders and change agents in yoga, movement, mindfulness, mental health, social justice, and community outreach. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And check out Warrior Flow TV, which offers hundreds of classes, including vinyasa yoga, meditation, HIIT, Pilates, barre, full-body workouts, yin yoga, restorative yoga, and much more. A portion of every subscription supports The Warrior Flow Foundation.