Making Mistakes and Finding Bravery
So by now, you may have noticed we are no longer Ganesh Yoga Studio. I have chosen to change the name to Wichita Ashtanga Yoga. It has taken me a couple of years to muster the courage to change the name, and even as I’ve been in the beginning stages of switching over these last few months I’ve had a hard time deciding how to make the announcement. I think let me first start by explaining why I chose Ganesh. I took my first 200hr Yoga Teacher Training at Siva Yoga Studio here in Wichita. As my training progressed and my interest deepened, I realized that the community in Wichita was missing what I loved most about my practice. The unabashedly acceptance and teachings of the more spiritual side of the practice. Yoga to me is so much more than asana, and I wanted to create a space that fostered that. So, I made the scary decision to start my own studio. I first chose the name Ganesh, because he is the son of Siva, and I thought it would be a good way to honor my teachers as well as differentiate myself from just a workout studio. I wanted to give a nod to the culture and the paradigm that gave me practice. No matter how “pure” or “honorable” my intentions were, they were grossly misguided. Recent events have made me take a deep hard look at the biases I hold, to dive deeper (especially in the world of yoga) at the idea of appropriation vs. appreciation, and to hold myself accountable. Just as when I first decided to name my space, I wanted this go-round to reflect what it is I stand for. What it is I provide. I mentioned earlier I needed to find the courage to change the name. I have such a deep reverence and respect for Ashtanga that I always questioned “Who am I to say that I am the authority figure of Ashtanga in Wichita?” As I’ve reflected on the appropriation of the use of Ganesh I realized I was hiding behind the giant elephant out of fear. I have dedicated the last 10 years to this tradition. I have traveled across the country studying endlessly with the senior teachers of the lineage. I have practiced it daily, through pregnancies, injuries and more. In hiding and trying to stay “modest” I know I have hurt myself, but most importantly I have hurt others. My first priority is always to ensure my space is both safe and welcoming for people of ALL backgrounds and walks of life. I actively advocate for children, survivors, BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ communities. I have never wanted a space where everyone is wearing the same $100 pair of leggings or all are a size 2. That is not how I live my life and that’s not authentically me. If I don’t stand entirely in my truth, (flaws and all) how can I expect others to? If I’m advocating so strongly for others, but still wrap myself in a blanket of misguided disrespect, am I truly an ally? If this practice has taught me anything, it’s that life is mostly uncomfortable. We are constantly changing and evolving and sometimes it’s messy and painful, but mostly it is beautiful. I hope that by me sharing my story, it gives you the courage to reflect. I hope it gives you the courage to hold yourself accountable. I don’t teach yoga to teach you how to do crazy asana, I teach yoga to help you live more authentically. If I’m holding you to that high of a standard, you better believe I have to hold myself to that high of a standard as well.