A whole lot of Angry, a whole lot of Compassion

Today I read a blog that sparked a detailed response to a posting from a ‘celebrity’ who qualifies herself as an inspirational guru of health and fitness. Man, is she One Angry Chick (her words, not mine)!

I’m not sure if Brittany will delete my comment in moderating her blog entry of ‘The Revolution is On‘, but just in case she does, here’s my long-thought-out comment for your reading leisure. I actually suggest you read her blog entry first (http://brittneykara.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/the-revolution-is-on) before reading my response. And I welcome your thoughts, ideas and / or any additions!

Namaste ….

Hi Brittany

disinfecting fruitBeing a yoga teacher myself who diligently lives a clean, healthy, hydrated life (all the while reading labels, like yourself, and meticulous about most things which enter my body), it’s so easy to see and experience the less than ideal choices others make — whether that be food, alcohol, drugs or the like. Aside from ones own personal choices about what we put into and onto our bodies, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the food and water we need to survive being sabotaged by chemicals, filled with potentially toxic and carcinogenic substances (such as artificial fragrances and harmful & needless antibacterial additions to our everyday household goods), along with the circus of false claims and advertising, inaccessible price gouging and shrouded ingredient listings.  There’s a lot of barriers out there for living a clean healthy lifestyle. Bombarded by a media which offers every kind of diet and product out there to maintain youth, beauty, fitness and everlasting mortality (tongue in cheek), it’s an incredibly complex task trying to maintain a lifestyle that is complete, wholesome and health-giving. One of the most challenging hurdles to living a healthy life is the lack or shroud of truthful education. So many conflicting opinions and (mis)information to wade through. I consider myself highly educated on the food my family consumes, and yet I still find myself confused and swayed by studies which are often backed by corporate and vested interest groups. A perfect example of this would be my belief in agave, a touted superfood, until the recent studies and findings on agave’s high fructose content (http://www.sacredchocolate.com/agave-blues-david-wolfe).

Living, breathing and advocating for a health-giving lifestyle is a full-time endeavour, truly. Considering this statement, very few people have the education, funds and time to apply such dedication and vigour. This is not an excuse but rather a fact of life. On top of this, living with and making ‘unhealthy’ choices is far easier and a whole lot less expensive. Our societal values have changed, shifted with the paradigm of a materialistic world that wants information / food / results quick, fast and with ease. This is a huge battle and wall that each and every one of us face.

Education is key. Access and clear honest information is needed. Building community which revolves around healthy organic grassroots living is an ideal situation. But laying fault and judgement on those that don’t necessarily have the means or information only creates a chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. I am so incredibly blessed to have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips through consistent research on the Internet, through my studies of yoga and teacher trainings, mentors and friends.

There is so much more than what meets the eye on the surface to whether a person is actually living a healthy lifestyle. Who are we to deem what is considered ‘Fat’? Is being overweight by 10lbs, 20lbs, 50lbs, 3 lbs considered fat? In some cultures and certain epochs, extra flesh and fat is considered highly attractive. Curves, cellulite, breast endowment (breast tissue is both fat and muscle) …. what makes one more attractive and healthy than the other?  For example, the yoga teacher who you deemed overweight. Who knows what her background is? She could have been 100lbs heavier, found yoga and is on a journey to leading a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps she looked exhausted, dehydrated and unhealthy because she is a single mom who just had a baby, is raising that child solo, through postpartum depression and is struggling to maintain a semblance of health and vitality in her life by teaching others. The fact that people showed up to the class is a step in the right direction to health, making that choice to live and breath and move. Who knows what your yoga teacher’s story is? But knowing that unless we live in her shoes and her experience, how can we define what is best and healthy for her? A vision of a slim, lean, attractive teacher is very much a western ideal based on yoga as a fitness factor rather than that of a practise in preparation for meditation and conscious breathe.

I also disagree with your statement that ‘We are all capable of being in great shape and healthy’. We all have the potential for greatness, but again, what is considered ‘great shape and healthy’? Who defines such terms? Media has done a ‘bang up’ job on our societies vision of body image, beauty and physicality. Celebrity hasn’t helped the cause. All I really know is what I perceive to be best for me. I can help others through education, empathy, compassionate vision and offering constructive choices towards environmentally wise and physically healthy options available to us.

Choice. Circumstance. Environment. Education.

We all have our own battles in this life. We here in North America are blessed to have so many viable and healthful options. Travel to a third world country, and you will see how truly privileged we are. Clean water. Fresh air. Food in abundance.

I invite you to share your breath, compassion, education, inspiration, and motivation to each and every person, regardless of age, race, size or deemed physical stature. We are all one family. We all deserve the best in life. We are all human. And most of all, we all deserve many chances to learn and grow.

Good luck in your life ventures. I wish for you much success in making our world a better place, one breath at a time.

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  1. Also, another response by me to this blog entry, and a response by a reader who posted a comment:

    “Hi Brittany
    Interesting reply about the yoga class and Leslie’s comment in return.

    I find myself sometimes falling in a ‘rut’ in my teaching and go to other classes for inspiration, insight and another ‘voice’. Every teacher has their own style and vision. The beauty of true yoga and my own practice is the ability to absorb it all and still focus inward on the breath and the body flow as I move through the asanas.

    Regardless of the teacher, their breath, cadence, voice, teachings or style, the responsibility for my body and health and presence is solely up to me. True yoga overcomes the inner mind’s ramblings and judgements, coming back to the breath with each and every asana, living in the moment and the body, releasing all the extraneous ‘noise’, releasing any and all expectations. Because truly, when you come down to it, judgements are expectations and perceptions. And every individual has their own. No one is right or wrong. Just different. I believe that passing off those expectations as rule is another matter quite unflattering and unfair. But, that is a judgement on my part. And I don’t want to come across as judging you. This is just a notion I hold true to and try to live by.

    I hope that you find a sense of quiet and peace in your class enough to find the true meaning of yoga, the union of body and breath and mind.


  2. Sky,

    Thank you for your thoughtful post and your opinion about what I wrote. I absolutely approved your comment! This type of conversation is great to get people talking and expressing their view of health. I knew when I wrote that piece that people would have strong opinions about it. The bottom line is that, while there are different aspects of being healthy, our culture and society has gone overboard at ignoring the massive problem that we have on our hands when it comes to our health. Health is a choice we all make everyday. While what I wrote may have seemed harsh to you or “angry” it comes from an absolute place of love. I want people to get angry and fight back, I want people to be upset with our current health crisis and say something about it. The more of us that discuss these issues the more of a chance we have, as a civilization, to fight against the major corporations who are killing us with their “foods”

    That is what One Angry Chick is about. It is about starting conversations and topics that most people find tabou so that we can all grow, and learn together.

    I am not a health guru nor do I consider myself a celebrity as you had mentioned. I am just a person who has dedicated their life to educating others about health and wellbeing. To say that we don’t have a choice to take our health in to our own hands because of lack of money, education, etc, I do not agree with.

    I have many mentors that came for less than humble beginnings and were raised with little or no education about proper health, yet they have been able to find the answers they need to live a life of health and wellness.

    WE all have that choice. There is more information out there then we could all handle. Yes it is confusing at times but there are many ways to find a path of health that works for the individual.

    On a side note… I am sure you can understand not wanting to attend a yoga class where the instructor was actually cursing during the postures. Judgement or no judgment, yoga is supposed to be peaceful and calm.

    I wish you much luck and success!


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