Sunday conversation: Fighting the lampooning of yoga

In one his responses — perhaps both — to the New York Times story on Ashtanga not making the writer skinny, Eddie Stern mentions that yoga is easily lampoonable:

There are so many things that invite ridicule in the yoga world, in America and in India. And while we should be honest about these aspects, we also should be aware that by our own behavior we can drive the presentation of yoga in West in a different direction – away from the Fashion & Style pages, and towards pages that reflect its greater relevance.

It’s pretty easy to see how Stern is doing just that: One need only look at the Broome St. Temple. David Swenson’s traveling ambassadorship for Ashtanga does the same. Tim Miller’s dedication to his shala — every day there, unless he’s traveling for a workshop — offers another demonstration. Read one of Richard Freeman’s books to see his level of seriousness. And, while I know least about Nancy Gilgoff, our recent guest post on her shows her part in this.

So, the question then turns around to hit home: How do you behave so people will see the better aspects of yoga and not the laughable ones?

And hopefully with this, we all may move on from the skinnier aspects of the practice to something fuller.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Sunday conversation: Fighting the lampooning of yoga”

  1. I know what I’m *not* doing so that people see the better aspects of yoga. I’m not teaching sans clothing. All joking aside (“ass-tanga,” anyone?), I found that whole episode to be actually quite unfortunate for the image of yoga in general and Ashtanga in particular. I know that the instructor has been quoted as saying, “Yoga is something you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re naked or not naked.” But intention matters, right? And the intention of the show’s producers in setting this scenario up is pretty clear.

    I do think blogging is one way that ashtangis can reach a wider audience. I try to offer up an Ashtanga blog that’s not so insider baseball that it turns off people who do not practice Ashtanga. I think the more people see the real-world connections, the more open they’ll be to the concept of the practice, if nothing else.

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