We Need to Talk About Your Vax Selfies

Last weekend I had the absolute pleasure to teach in the studio for the first time in over a year – as many of you know our Outlaw Yoga Littleton studio was a casualty of COVID. 

Though I’d taught plenty of yoga classes online, many of them filmed in recording studios, being back in a space set intentionally for the yoga practice was like a breath of fresh air.

Well, a breath of air filtered through a mask, anyways…

As I prepared for class I wondered what it would mean to teach in an era of masks, social distancing, and vaccinations…

I wondered, for example, if I should give any physical adjustments.

(I did. I also sanitized my hands in between and did something I’ve never done before – asked if people wanted them…EVERYONE did.)

I also considered, briefly, asking the room if they’d been vaccinated. Thinking that it might help set some at ease if many of them had. Maybe those who had been vaccinated could even be allowed to remove their masks while practicing…?

I scrapped this idea as quick as it had come, and here’s why…

Years ago I worked in the Operating Room at Swedish Hospital when something called HIPPA was  coming into ascendancy.   

The three main ‘rules’ of the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act requires healthcare organizations to exercise best practices protecting a patient and their information in the areas of administrative, physical, and technical security.

Patient names were taken off ‘the board’ for example. ‘Joe Schmoe’ wasn’t having penis enlargement surgery, ‘Room 1’ was…

As care providers, the protections HIPPA introduced were cumbersome at best, and sometimes incredibly inconvenient at worst. But they were put in place for a reason – to protect the patient.

It’s worth taking note when big business agrees that this information is worth protecting.

I realized as comforting as it may be if the entire room was vaccinated, it would be incredibly alienating if even one person was not. 

Not to mention, awkward.

“Hey, anyone in here have herpes?” I could just as well have asked.

It made me realize that this entire debate has lost sight of this inherent human right to privacy.

Whether or not I get vaccinated is as relevant to you, as whether or not I use protection during sexual intercourse.

That is to say – it’s important if you’re the one in bed with me.

Otherwise, it’s no one’s fucking business where you ‘stand’ on it, whether or not you’ve gotten it, or intend to, or why

Used to be you could fire up social media and just see some cartilaginous poser contorting themselves into a pose with little to no clothes on…now I gotta scroll through screen after screen of vaccination selfies just to get to my #yogaporn.

It’s bullshit…

I’ve been out and about and traveling around much of the country recently. I’ve met medical professionals and front line workers that are suspicious of receiving a vaccine, and crack-pots who are adamantly against it, and an equal amount of yogis on both sides of the divide…I know a lot of good,  intelligent people who have been vaccinated for their own sound reasons. I’ve also gotten a whiff of the vaccine-related restrictions that are likely forthcoming.

But, here’s the most dangerous thing I think I’ve encountered…masks have unmasked the deep-seated division in our country.

As much as I teach connection, I like that people are supposed to stay six feet the hell away from me right now…for many reasons I am an incredibly anti-social person. As Albert Einstein was said to have said, “I love Humanity but I hate humans.”

But at the end of the day, I know well that we need each other, even if that fact is incredibly inconvenient. 

That’s precisely why I spend so much time teaching connection in a yoga setting – because it is difficult, messy, and often deranged. Because at some point we are all going to have to come together, set aside our fabricated differences and address one common enemy – environmental degradation.

Humans are short-sighted.

It is not an alien invasion that will undo us, but the lack of fresh water and organic farmland.

Environmental overstretch has taken down far more ‘advanced’ civilizations than our own (e.g. The Mayans) – the result once all the water is gone?

Civil War and civilizational collapse.

But perhaps I have digressed…

The need to come together is why I consent to wearing a mask. Science lacking, if it sets my mother at ease or the grocery store workers that get paid shit to do shit work, then it’s a small sacrifice on my behalf.

I will not wear it outside, however – that feels stupid to me. 

Here’s a few things I trust: my intuition, my ration and reason, my discernment and intelligence.

If, in your gut, you want a vaccination then get a vaccination. 

If you want to wear a mask outside then do…just don’t give a dirty look at those that don’t, or waste your breath trying to convince them of an invasive procedure.

Our collective cohesion is more important than convincing others of our personal opinion…

Here’s a few things I don’t trust: perfect strangers trying to ‘influence’ me on social media, the government (read 100 Million Guinea Pigs by Arthur Kallet), one-year-old science, the decision-making capabilities of mob rule mentality, partisan based news, and being bribed with donuts to take my medicine.

There is no such thing as ‘objective journalism’ in this country anymore…maybe the world. Social media favors and fosters the negative (watch ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix). 

Knowing this, I’m suspicious when Facebook pushes a vaccination on me…doubly so when Krispy Kreme offers me free fried balls of dough for getting one.

If you distrust the powers that be and their instruments of influence then you may hold off on getting one.

While you’re making that decision, please remember that your yoga teacher is more often than not a minimally trained exercise coach. They are rarely healthcare professionals, preachers or priests, or healers of any sort.

Yoga on the whole is a psycho-spiritual practice designed to help unify body, mind, and spirit. The physical posture practice is a form of exercise designed to covertly prepare Indian revolutionary fighters to oust the British imperialists of the past…

Yoga isn’t a panacea that cures everything from hemorrhoids to back pain, a medical science, or a platform for fame or political influence…

To get vaccinated or not is a tough call and I don’t have a tidy answer…but, when you don’t know, sometimes ‘wait and see’ is a sound policy.

Here’s one thing I do know: whether or not you get vaccinated should have nothing to do with: a) a perfect stranger’s opinion trying to influence you on social media, or the news; b) how many of your ‘friends’ on social media posted a picture of their vaccination card; or, c) the deranged opinion generated by mass hysteria.

The decision should be between you and your loved ones and your trusted health professional should you have one.

Good luck out there, Yogis! It’s gonna get weirder before it gets normaler


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Justin “Jud” Kaliszewski is the best-selling yoga teacher and renowned creator of Outlaw Yoga. Author. Artist. Adventurer. Take his class NOW at outlawyogaclub.com and www.youtube.com/outlawyoga. Find his writing and art at www.justinkaliszewski.com and his presence all over the internet – for an outlaw, he’s shockingly easy to get ahold of.