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June 29, 2023

Beyond Female and Male: Exploring the Sacred Union in Yoga

Beyond Female and Male: Exploring the Sacred Union in Yoga

Megan Fiscus, eRYT200, YACEP, is a yoga instructor at The Emily Program’s Columbus, Ohio outpatient site. They were trained through Yoga on High, a Columbus-based YTT. They received 300-hr training there as well, including Meditation TT, Trauma Sensitive TT, Pranayama TT, iRest Yoga Nidra, and other trainings, but the organization was sold before Megan received their 300-hr certification. Since then, Megan has entered into an IAYT program and is currently engaged in becoming a certified yoga therapist.

Megan has worked with a diverse group of populations, including infants and the elderly. Megan has been an instructor at the YMCA and yoga and fitness studios, and most recently has been working for BalletMet as a movement and Wellness instructor in collaboration with Reynoldsburg City Schools. In addition to working full-time at The Emily Program, they teach after-school yoga for elementary-aged children. They are also an artist working in many different media, especially oil painting. They have been a figure model for 12 years and are the director of the Figure Art Program at Wild Goose Creative, an art gallery specializing in community art and engagement. Megan has aspirations to become a therapist specializing in Trauma and Restorative practices.

Working as a yoga instructor for the past six years has been a beautiful journey for me. From the moment I set foot in the studio, where I was to learn and then translate the teachings into my own voice, I have come into a deeper understanding of myself as a human being in a lived experience. Yoga has helped me to be aware of myself, to look deeply within to see all that I am, who I have been, and the potential I have for anything I choose to devote energy to. Yoga is insight. Yoga is pure awareness.

I identify as a gender queer individual. I believe that gender is a construction in our minds that serves to segregate ourselves into controllable categories, easy for the brain to identify and associate with certain qualities. We can then place our expectations on people and are confused when people don’t fit into the two very neat little categories of gender.

The truth is that the human experience is vast and cannot be summed up in one female/male experience. My pronouns are “they/them/theirs,” and I use these pronouns when I am speaking of anyone who has not identified themselves to me by their gender. Once I know what they go by, I will incorporate that information into my understanding of who they are and use those pronouns.

What do gender and yoga have to do with each other? A lot. Yoga was developed as a practice in Asia and India and encompasses a heritage that spans many different religions and philosophies. It’s often associated with Buddhism and Hinduism, given its origin point in Eastern philosophy. The poses got their names from gods and goddesses, animals, scenery, and more. As a yoga instructor, I felt it was necessary for me to learn about these associations so that I could honor yoga and relay the information to anyone who desires it. Upon studying these religious associations, I came to understand that female and male aspects are often depicted as the same entity in Buddhism and Hinduism. They are facets of one being or energy. One cannot exist without the other. This resonated greatly.

I have always felt, even as a young person, that I did not fit into that neat box of femininity; my mannerisms were always being repudiated by my elders. I can remember being in 3rd grade and having “romantic” feelings for a girl. I never once thought there was something wrong with me, but I was confused as to why everyone seemed to want me to be a particular way. Yoga cleared this whole thing up for me. Here was an explanation for why I feel the way I do. I contain both, all, any––I hold it all within me. My pronouns indicate that I am they, or even “WE,” but since that might be harder for some folks to grasp, “they” seems more palatable to the general populace for now.

It has been a struggle, though; don’t get me wrong. Every day I question how I am “representing” my queerness. Do I need to change how I look to be more androgynous? My body image took a hit quickly after I realized that I was about to out myself as a queer person. I felt that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I didn’t start looking the way a queer person looks. I became very depressed. I started hating my body, not necessarily because of its overtly feminine qualities, but more because through its appearance, it would be impossible for me not to get called “she/her.” What to do?

I have decided to do nothing, to change nothing. I simply exist just as I am. Radical acceptance at work. This is not me saying that people who choose to alter their appearance to align more with their gender are in the wrong. I just choose to allow the gentle and strong thing that is my body care for me the way that it has always cared for me. I have, however, chosen to adopt more self-care practices that help me pay tribute to the house that is my constant companion. Doing so has improved my mood as much as it has improved my connection to my body. And this was all because of yoga.

I simply could not be more grateful to myself for practicing yoga and to the yogis/yoginis who came before me. And I am profoundly grateful to The Emily Program for granting me the opportunity to share the meaningful practices of yoga with our clients.

Acceptance and awareness, kindness and inner peace. All good is coming.

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