Monday, August 03, 2009

Five Words That Do Not Belong In Yoga

It's not the Five Words You Can't Say on Television, but then George Carlin wasn't a yogi.


YC

23 comments:

Selina said...

You don't have to publish this comment - but I've been sporadically reading your blog, and I just had to say this:

I think it's sad, and wrong that you feel that you need to justify not doing Ashtanga. All yoga is good yoga, and if you feel good doing it, then who cares what others think - it's right for you.

I don't know what these particular Ashtangis did to you, but it seems like there is so much anger in your words. Although from your article, I can see why - no good teacher would 'crank' you into a pose or tell you that pain is good!

Seems like you need to find a 'criminal' shala (like mine!!) It truly sucks when Ashtangis take the rules to such extremes and ruin it for everyone else - even Mr Jois was known to change how poses were done, or to modify the rules to accommodate his students' needs!

Selina

Yoga Chickie said...

Hi Selina. I am sorry you think that anything about my postings are sad, as that is not my intent. I don't feel the need to justify anything...it's actually the opposite: I feel free to express myself. It is wonderful to not feel the need to censor myself anymore, which I had to do when I was teaching yoga, when I had to face the shala every day. So, please, don't feel sad!

Anonymous said...

Selina, is there anything in the article with which you (substantially) disagree?

Grimmly said...

biostHi lauren,
Felt the need to challenge your article a bit in their comments section. Nothing personal, had you posted it here i probably would have been amused by some of it and found myself nodding in agreement in places. In the context of the Huff though, it felt like a misrepresentation of the practice, off putting perhaps to anyone considering taking it up.
Using the food and sex quirky bits from the Yoga Mala, come on : ) , who follows that stuff except some hardcore practitioners who want to go the whole hog.
The cult references, fine here, we know your being playful with it, and it can feel that way sometimes, but there? Made me think of some of those articles that come out occasionally written by Journos who have just googled all the jucy, unsupported gossip or bits and pieces taken out of context from the net and stitched it together. You've practiced and taught it (didn't know that) it's not all bad is it? But presenting it as you do from the position of an experienced practitioner and even teacher and it's worse than if it came from some hack.
There's thing's about the Ashtanga world that annoy the hell out of me too as you know, but overall I love this practice and it's been good to me. Just wanted anyone reading your article to have another view on it.

CHUCK said...

Yoga Chickie,
How do you manage to live by a duck pond without workin? I live in and around a mule shed and have to work like a horse jist to keep corn on the table! I aint never done this here Ashcanga yoga but I did have an aquaintince who went to Inja to study with the master's son! This fellow forced her into a position and caused somethim to pop loose! She ended up with half her face paralized and could hardly talk without bein misunderstood! It took a number of years for it to heal itself, meanwhile the rich man she was livin with kept askin her to have plastic surgery to correct he eyelids and such!

Yoga Chickie said...

Grimmly, if I get the bug in me, I am going to write a piece about the cultishness. No promises though...I tend to not follow through on such intentions, writing whatever grabs me most at any moment.

Grimmly said...

What do I know anyway, I'm kind of insulated from it all, practicing here at home. Some things irritate me but I probably don't know the worst of it... or perhaps the best of it either.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for about a year after I found it while doing a search on my ashtanga teacher. I have been practicing daily for a few years and it has been wonderful. The practice is fun and challenging. My teacher is a very warm gentlemen who quietly guides me. Overall the Ashtanga practice has been a positive addition to my day. Some days I am sore and tired.

Then one day I was practicing and something you wrote on your blog popped in my head. I have no remembrance of what it was that I read that filled into my mind but it sure did not help my practice and I lost focus of my breath. It happened again. And then again. And I started realizing that none of what you wrote was positive for my practice. There is my teacher silently watching and your words were breaking our silent mojo. No mom and dad issues, no questioning my teacher, just yoga chickie complaining about this aspect of yoga or that aspect of yoga.

So I stayed away from your blog and then my practice got back to it's quiet breath.

My coworker sent me this huff po link and there was one of your essays on yoga. I read it very puzzled because my ashtanga teacher has never said any of these 5 words. And it struck me. You are a Drishti Vampire. You suck the focus from a yogis practice.

Good bye Drishti Vampire I leave you forever to get back to my quiet practice with the sweetest teacher who says nothing but wonderful words of encouragement.

Yoga Chickie said...

Anonny, no one said that YOUR teacher says those words. It's the STUDENTS who say the words. I am talking about the STUDENTS, including myself in the past. But if I steal your drishte, if I suck it out of you without even being there...wow.....wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you! I am proud to have been in your head like that, whomever you are...

Namaste.

skelly said...

wow I am so continually astonished that people take blogs so seriously ! its quite hilarious really. It actually amazes me that people take any piece of writing literally, it is simply a construct, even a blog is in part a work of fiction intermingled with emotion and humour. If people don't like something don't read it, or are those complaining the kind who write letters starting "Dear BBC I was forced to watch your dreadful programme ......"

Craig said...

I really enjoyed your article and I think you hit on the key issues of Ashtanga and some issues that I've struggled with in my year of practice. Questions like "Why do I feel defeated after some practices? Why did I get hurt when Yoga should heal? Why is there few words of encouragement in a shala (or very few)but just a pushing of one to the next phase of the posture. Is yoga not about being in the now?
However, Ashtanga is the right yoga for me. I like routine, I like rules, I like adhering to one style. I think you wrote about the issues that are on a lot of people's minds but they don't want to verbalize them. I like your honesty. I don't fully agree with Grim that it will scare people away but rather nurture them when they try it and perhaps come up against one of these issues. If nothing else, you just shone the light on the other side of the coin. I say well done.

YogaBlue said...

Lauren -
I was surprised a bit at some of the comments that came back to me after I linked your Huff post to my FB page. I love ashtanga and my teachers and have had only brief encounters with authoritarian teachers and just hear about cultish followers from yoga lore and NYC bloggers. Plus of course, I am familiar with your satiric style. So I got it an loved it. Grimmly makes a good point though about the Huff audience vs. your blog audience. Some of the references were really inside and some readers felt sorry for poor abused Lauren who has missed the bliss of yoga. Not true though. Your travel through the "cult" was critical to the joy and liberation you feel in your practice now. Now it's really yours. Jai. Thanks for the great post.

Yoga Chickie said...

YogaBlue...I didn't realize who you were in real life until you just made that comment about your facebook page...duh!!!! I do think I could have done a better job of clarifying what a great experience ashtanga was for me when I was deep in it and that it isn't the TEACHERS who are using those five words....

Anonymous said...

Drishti Vampire?!!! Yoga Chickie, I am officially jealous of your superpowers. I suggest you now add DV to your signature (along the lines of MA, MS, etc.) It also, for some reason, makes me think 'Bart Simpson'.

Wrt 'the five words' - Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said [paraphrase?]: nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. Surely we could extrapolate?

Zaf
(YC)

Tiby said...

Where the hell do these people come from?

Musical accompaniment: "Ain't Goin' to Goa" - Alabama 3.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REd0-btJIgI

Seriously. Crazy people pissing on you saying, "Enjoy the fresh summer rain!"

Step away from the ledge people.

Tiby said...

Hey! Lauren, I just posted a comment and it done disappeared! You woulda liked it!

Sigh.

You rock. They're scary. I think they glow in the dark when no one's around and I don't mean in a good way.

Selina said...

Yoga lady - I'm glad you were just expressing yourself, and not angry or bitter etc. We need more people like that! Although I do agree with Grimmly - I think the article would really put people off Ashtanga…

We all know a couple of crazy Ashtangis - you know the ones. They say things like, "Oh, but MANJU says..." and "That's not how DENA does it". They worship and project their expectations onto their teachers, and hang onto their every word.

From what I've seen (admittedly, not a lot - I'm still sub-quarter century age-wise) - the numbers of Ash-crazies at any given shala are proportionately higher the more authoritarian/egomaniacal the teacher. At shalas with humble teachers, the students seem to be more chilled out.

Hilarious example: I once heard a teacher say - "sometimes I want to do something really gross in front of the students to stop them projecting all their ideals onto me. Like pick my nose."

I think that pretty much sums it up, haha!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank you for saying this publicly, because a lot of people agree with you (and then some) but don't have to guts to speak their minds about it.
I'm so glad that I've left the cult behind because there is so much more to even the physical practice than is dealt with in the Mysore rooms. During a recent class I gazed into the Yoga Sutra Mysore room and saw the all the tight guys with rounded backs in forward bends, and general lack of alignment. It borders on the egregious because a lot of American Ashtanga teachers have backgrounds in other styles but don't teach sufficient alignment even though they know better.
Anyway I'm glad the nightmare is over for me, and I'm also glad you are so outspoken about self-practice because I completely concur, it's what yoga is really all about.

Yoga Chickie said...

"Ashtanga" doesn't have to worry about students being put off by lil ole me. I mean, seriously, no one is SERIOUSLY worried about protecting Ashtanga from Lauren Cahn are they?! Seriously.

If anything turns students off to Ashtanga it is the Ash-crazies out there (thanks Selina, I like that) who make Ashtanga seem like an impenatrable club that you have to be a contortionist with a wish to wake up at 4 a.m. in order to join.

That's ANOTHER oddity by the way...the early wake up. BLECH!

Anonymous said...

It seems like the "rules" and the culture, which you swallowed without skepticism when you needed it, still has some power over you--thus the passion.

I do agree that the humbler the teacher, the more chilled out the students.

sally said...

i think it has to be said that, for those with a regular job, the early wake-up is really just a necessity if you want to get your practice in before you head into your work day. nothing crazy about any of the people at my shala who do their practice before starting their work day as lawyers, teachers, scientists at 8.30am...

Anonymous said...

I started practicing Ashtanga about 4-5 months ago and am already surprised by the upspoken competetiveness and the anxiety in the classes.

Overall it does seem like Ashtanga or rather that the personality type that is drawn to Ashtanga(including me) is very non-yogic in it's approach to yoga.

It definitely does seem like the hipster equivalent of the Yoga world.

Phew.. that felt good. Having said all that I think if I practice by myself at my home it brings me a discipline that nothing else does so I guess I will continue practicing. All I want is Ashtanga without the anxiety.

The other day there was a bee in the class and the person next to me said that maybe it is Guruji.
Had a hard time not rolling my eyes.

Free Yoga at MyFreeYoga.com said...

Hi I just wanted to say I love your blog and all the information you provide. Thank you, Christina.

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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