If you take a Vipassana retreat from the Goenka school, you will sit for hours and hours listening to the same sessions (taped) that have brought so many to meditation. I’ve done 3 of the 10 day retreats, and each one was simply wonderful.
Wonderful once they are over, that is. During those ten days of silence and solitude, wonderful can only be used to describe the experience on days 9 and 10. Days 1 – 8 are just rough. Some times during the long sits, after the instructions have ended, the mind tends to wander and then suddenly, you hear the voice “Start again. Start again with a calm and quiet mind…”
Start again. Any Vipassana mediator will chuckle if you use that term. We have all been brought back by those words. And, as usual, Goenka-ji is right. It is what we need to do, when we fall off, when we wander, when we stop doing something we want to be doing, like meditating. Like blogging.
So, I’m starting again. I can thank Vicky Hallett I suppose, she wrote two yoga articles today in the DC press and quoted me in both. (One about changes in the DC studio scene and another about Yoga District, where I teach). So like Goenka’s words surprising me as my mind wandered, Vicky’s thundering pen has reminded me that I opinions and I like to share them! Thanks Vicky.
When I set up this blog, I had visions of book reviews, occasional insights and musings on the DC yoga scene. But then the NY press declared war on Yoga and Anusara blew up. I’ll get to those other ambitions later, but for now, let’s try to keep our attention on this fascinating developments.
Anusara - Here is there just one article to read, Doug Brooks letter explaining why Anusara should simple disolve instead of trying to reinvent itself. He is responding to the announcement by the new Anusara CEO announcing a 50/50 split with JF. I tend to agree with Doug Brooks, but as we can see Anusara is big business, and while it may be the right thing to do, many people will cling to existence of a nice big branded tent, and (?) who knows how much money is flowing in the form of royalties, product sales and endorsements. Like I said earlier, it is starting to look like all these resignations are just step one in what will be remembered as the great Anusara Fire Drill, everyone out, and then back in.
NYT/Sex Cult – (Sorry about the graphic, I just thought it was too perfect, maybe they put Broad up to this?) William Broad’s article in the NYT drew fire from me and others yesterday, but today I read three great responses, if you have the time here are they are any why you need to read them:
Please join my sex cult is just entertaining and does a more thourogh job than I did of pointing out how absurd that article was.
Yoga and Tapas speaks directly to the ancient obscure origins of yoga and reminds us that there is not one core text, despite some teacher training progam’s penchant for telling new students that the Sutras are that.
In one feel swoop Dr. Broad has made amends to the yoga community. I offer my gratitude. Yesterday’s NYT article makes up for the silly injury article you wrote earlier and that book you wrote where you evaluated “Yoga”. About that book, I thought Cathryn Keller said in best in the Post when she wrote:
At the big-picture level, Broad loses his footing. His de facto definitions of both yoga and science are too narrow for the complexity of his subject. He announces early on that he will not explore “meditation and mindfulness, liberation and enlightenment,” leaves the brain science of meditation for others, ignores Ayurvedic medicine, and does not analyze the complex historic relationship between science and yoga in colonial and postcolonial India.
Sorry she was tough on you Dr. Broad. But for this article, thank you. You have not only discredited yourself in one stunningly absurd sentence but you have also given us yogis advertising we could never afford.
Your litany of studies showing how yoga improves sex lives is dead on. Generally, we don’t put this in the marketing materials, since we don’t want to devalue the sacred and useful teachings we are sharing, but your article will surely get this poorly kept secret out. I look forward to more new students. Thanks for the press.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in you after the whole book thing. It is good of you to fall on your sword by saying something as idiotic as “Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult…” Wow. Can I please get your source on this? Because the last time a student asked me how yoga began it took me 3 hours to explain that nobody actually knows. The best I could do was point to the chart below from Alison Hicks.
Dr. Broad, don’t be hurt by the angry blogs out there. (I mean Naomi seems mad, but she still has a sense of humor she does mention her awesome… -ness) I see what you are up to with this and I appreciate it. Most everyone who reads this article will surly see how you have taken gross oversimplification and simply making up ancient history to new heights.
I wasn’t going to do it, so many already have. Then a good yoga teacher wrote on my wall “the NYT wasn’t way off…” and here I go…
Article: NYT releases article on Thursday (1/5) about how yoga will “wreck your body” The article is a preview of a book on the same topic. It is a dumb as it sounds. The picture is funny, if nothing else.
Responses: The Yoga blogsphere explodes and I won’t do more than point you to a couple of summaries if you want more, one I really liked and-for balance-one compassionate take on the article.
David Keil weighed in today using some data (inspiring me below)
Bottom line: The NYT article/Mr. Broad’s forthcoming book are sensationalist and misleading. They are way, way off.
Yes, people can go too far and have injuries for a while as a result. This is true in pretty much everything, including yoga. But they do us a favor by going too far… They have not only given the Yogis a chance to response in unison (check) but they have reminded us that many people are still confused about yoga, good thing so many of us are teachers…
NY Mag wrote an article 3 days ago that is exactly wrong. A student remembered me talking about the teacher in question, and promptly posted the article on my wall yesterday.
I read it and shook my head. They painted a dark picture of a teacher I really respect, David Regelin.The one thing they got right were the photos of his strong practice (which I share here) but to portray him as angry, frustrated or a jerk told me clearly that the author is confused. I’ve learned many things from David and from other students of his who are now established teachers in NY. He is thoughtful, talented and brilliant. Oh, and he can teach, really well.
I posted the article on my FB page, saying
Fascinating. Another great teacher, David Regelin, changes his focus and style. What is amazing about the age we live in, is that NY Mag wrote it up!
Everyone took something different from the piece and the comments on my wall struck me. I was disappointed that some yogis felt comfortable concluding that David – who they never met – was, in fact, a jerk. There had to be another side to this story? How was David going to respond?
I woke up today to see David’s response. It is good. Read it. If you finish the article and say to yourself “I wanna meet this guy, I need to take his class.” You’re on the right track.
You can check out here and read his response, but if you’re still with me, two more points…
First, compared to a master teacher like David, I’m a rank amateur. One line, however, did resonate: “It does not make me look like a nice guy, and I am a nice guy, but when I teach, I teach.” I have a challenge when I teach yoga, time is short, people are tied up, and sweat is pouring so I prioritize getting the point across fast over prefacing my thoughts with all the appropriate pleasantries and caveats so feelings aren’t hurt. I’m just assuming people are coming to class to learn.
Second, and here is the punchline… If this NY Mag mess teaches me anything it reminds me Yogis inhabit a special world and we need to take care of the visitors. We practice a sacred ancient set of techniques and move our bodies (gross, emotional, energetic, subtle, subtler…) around to explore the universe inside. It is powerful stuff. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when someone wanders into a room–charged with high vibration, full of strong practitioners where invisible energy and audible instruction are flying around in equal parts–and doesn’t quite get it.
I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe reporters and new students dropping into advanced classes aren’t that different. We need to keep an eye of them, we need to check their understanding and sometimes, maybe we need to assess if they should be in the room or consider what happens in the room since they are there. We owe it to Yoga, to them and, to ourselves. Otherwise they might go back outside and start spreading their confusion; that would be a shame.