I Give Up.
While scrolling through my Tweetstream yesterday … this came up :
@ninieahmad BANNED from #projectalpha on Astro as she’s a Malay yoga teacher.
Quick background for my non-Malaysian blog readers :
@ninieahmad : Famous yoga teacher in Malaysia. Sponsored by Adidas and Stella McCartney. Link to her blog here
#projectalpha : Reality TV based programme of sorts about bloggers and their lives
Astro : Cable TV network
Malaysia : In a sum, consists of 3 major races – Malays, Chinese and Indian
WHY was she banned? Was it because she’s MALAY [and hence, a MUSLIM]? After last year’s fatwa [decree] on Muslims being BANNED from yoga [which incidentally, has been lifted but I have since blogged about it here], there has been furor, uproar and confusion on the whole of Malaysia as to whether Muslims can do yoga.
To me, yoga is a form of exercise. Again, I am speaking from my point of being a certified Bikram Yoga teacher, so my comments and opinions based herewith cannot be compared with say, an Iyengar teacher who has had a different method of training / schooling. I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 2.5 years and teaching it full-time for 6 months, and if the Malaysian Fatwa council has deemed yoga as being religious,I cannot fully comment on this matter as I am not a Muslim nor do I profess to have fully read and understood the Qu’ran.
However, I can say with absolute certainty and confidence that Yoga is NOT a religious experience. It is an experience allright, but it’s more of an exercise. Never before have I seen people of different backgrounds, races, creeds and nationalities together, in ONE room, for 90 minutes, staying absolutely silent and bending, twisting, compressing and sweating [some more profusely than others!]. And the sight after class absolutely warms my heart. Everyone sitting around, joking, saying ‘hellos’ or ‘goodbyes’ and doing some catching up, and the occasional banter / tirade / questions that come my way.
Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe Yoga really IS religious. See Exhibits below :
#1 : Oh God Mei, the room was so hot / humid!
#2 : Oh GOD Mei, I can’t get my knee locked / suck my stomach in! [precisely how I was when I first started]
#3 : Oh GOD is she ever going to get us out of [insert posture] ?! I can tell by the looks on your face. Seriously 😉
Jokes aside, it really seems to me that it is really a lack of understanding and tolerance that has led to this fiasco. Already Malaysia is dealing with brain drain of young professionals to other countries, international headlines of us sentencing a woman to whipping for drinking beer and RM8billion [US$3billion] of our taxpayers money going to build a new national palace, when our current national palace is PERFECTLY FINE.
Some days I truly wonder WHY I bothered coming back to a country that already feels alien to me. If doing what I like in my country may soon result me in being banned due to some preexisting fear / judgement, why the hell should I even pay tax and be treated like dirt?
If my job allows me to travel the world, than travel I shall. Perhaps I will settle down eventually, in the future, somewhere where I will not feel alienated and ostracized just because I am doing what I love.