When Comments 1Did Easy Become a Bad Word?
One of the common misconceptions about yoga classes that aren’t vigorous vinyasa flow is that they’re “easy.”
Sometimes the person saying that means it in a positive way, like “thank goodness I can catch a break.” But other times—I’d say more often than not—that’s meant in a negative way, as though going to an “easy” class is getting away with something.
I don’t buy it either way.
Sometimes when students come to my class, they ask “is this class easy?” This seemingly innocuous question is so loaded, though. I can usually (although not always) tell by the person’s tone and body language what answer they’re hoping for. “Yes, I show lots of options during class so that everyone can practice. You’ll be fine.” Or “No. I show lots of options during class so that you can practice at your own level.”
Similar answer, different reassurance.
In reality, I can’t give an answer to that question. Because how do I know what someone else perceives as easy?
Eye of the Beholder
I believe there’s a difference between easy and easeful. Easy is completely subjective; what’s a snap for one person may be impossible for another. To me, easy gets too quickly into judgment about what someone can (or more often should) do or not do. About who’s “challenging” themselves more. About who’s more “advanced.”
(And this is all just in the realm of the physical, which is what people are usually referring to when they ask this question.)
Easeful, on the other hand, while also subjective, is a bit more concrete. Easeful can be invited into any practice. Easeful is about mindfulness no matter the pace of your practice.
In addition, I believe there is a difference between easy and accessible. I think when people are talking about easy classes, they mean that they have a slower pace and don’t include poses that are deemed physically difficult. But in my book, just because a class is easy doesn’t mean it’s accessible.
To me, accessible is individualized. In other words, an accessible class is one where regardless of the pace or poses, students are offered a variety of options so they can all participate in their own way. Students are encouraged to find what feels like an appropriate practice for them—their own ease, their own challenge.
When we get out of accessible and into easy, we risk something. We risk lumping people into categories and relying on templates.
We also risk missing yoga altogether because yoga has never been about conforming to external expectations. It’s about the internal journey which, while ever-changing, still needs some ease and accessibility because none of us is ever at the same place.
Thanks for writing such a thoughtful inquiry into how yoga is judged these days. I feel that because most of us in Western civilization have become desensitized, “hot” or “kick-butt” yoga fits with our new normal. Even though vigorous forms of asana may be more rigorous on a physical level, the slower forms are much more challenging for our minds. We get easily bored when we’re not being constantly pelted with extreme sensation, and boredom is a lot more uncomfortable for most people than having our butts kicked. When things get quiet we start to “hear” all the stuff under the surface in our own minds. This is rarely easy!