I remember being in a Sociology class and hearing about how the United States is a great melting pot and all the world’s cultures are being blended together. At first this idea seems great and brings to mind a picture of one big happy family. Later in life the melting pot has become an analogy that seems to strip away from diversity. By groups assimilating into the primary culture they lose authenticity. The term pot of soup seems more appealing to describe the diversity in the United States.
A Hearty Pot Of Soup
Think about a hearty bowl of vegetable soup; hopefully it brings to mind a combination of several different vegetables and spices in a steaming broth. The vegetables and spices contribute to the taste and complexity of the broth and also may add a little flavor to the other ingredients. This represents a sharing of ideas or possibly an expanding of horizons. The broth creates a base where all the different flavors intermingle but the vegetables still maintain their core identity; when you bite into a tomato you know you have a tomato. This, to me, is a much more desirable way to view society because it maintains diversity but acknowledges parts of culture can be shared and benefit everyone.
Since this is a yoga blog... here are a few ways yoga reminded me to appreciate diversity.
1) Diversity Of Styles
There many different forms of yoga. Some yoga styles seem very committed to routine while others appeal to those of us who are free flowing in style. Being able to select through the different styles or even practice multiple styles is part of how yoga reminds me to cherish diversity.
2) Diversity Of Instructors
Each instructor brings their own style to the class. Different instructors have different personalities; which ultimately creates a different vibe in each class. I have had instructors who are very focused on alignment (to the point where my baggy shorts were lifted to see if my leg was really straight), instructors who provided a lot of motivation (I think I did stretch an extra inch), instructors who like to keep things on the lighter side with openness and a sense of humor, and instructors focused on much more than asana (These ones get your mind to open up). I enjoy the exposure to the different styles and ultimately have learned something from each teacher and enjoy the different experiences.
3) Diversity In Class Participants
I know watching others should be avoided but some of us are curious characters. I appreciate having diversity in the crowd when practicing. It can act as an inspiration to see people who have been practicing for awhile or who might be athletically gifted perform some impressive poses (cirque de soleil comes to mind). While I might never get there in my practice, it inspires me to work in that direction. I also appreciate having people who are just beginning in class. The newcomers are a reminder of where I was at a short time ago and a reminder of the progress that can be made.
Appreciating diversity is a cornerstone to living a fulfilling life. A true appreciation of diversity begins with setting our own biases to the side and being open to the lifestyles of others. When we learn to appreciate someone or something that is different; rather than questioning the difference, we have grown as a society.