A Few More Words on the Vanity Fair Article

Steve’s posted his thoughts on the March Vanity Fair article titled, in full, “Yoga for Trophy Wives: The Fitness Fad That’s Alienating Discipline Devotees,” with the online title, “Who’s Yoga Is It Anyway?”

I have a just a few things to add. As you might guess, it’s about the title.

A few friends have asked why in the world Vanity Fair would care about the Ashtanga world. The answer, of course, is it doesn’t. It cares about “57-year-old Paul Tudor Jones II,” who “runs the multi-billion-dollar hedge-fund empire Tudor Investment Corp.” and, apparently, his “trophy wife.” I don’t know about how they feel about that title (“trophy wife,” not “II”) on the east coast, but out here it’s an insult.

Granted, journalists rarely get to write the titles for their articles–editors to that. This one seems to be designed to sell magazines and get web hits, since I’m not sure it makes sense. Technically, it means Ashtanga is alienating me, as a “discipline devotee.” Not so, Vanity Fair.

But, really, I’d like to address “Who’s Yoga Is It Anyway?” and Sharath’s comment, “Everyone has their own rights to share the knowledge with others. Nobody owns this.”

Standing on the porch of the Mercantile in Mt. Shasta with Tim last summer, I said to him how much I admired Guruji for his choice of name for the practice. He didn’t name it after himself. When Sharath Ragaswamy changed his name to Jois, and the word got out that the studios would be called Jois Yoga Shala, I got nervous. This was beginning to feel like branding. When I heard from the Millers last summer how things were going down with the opening of the studios–the things reported in Vanity Fair–it began to act like branding. Branding means ownership, by definition. And often leads to declarations and exertions of power without acknowledgement of equal worth.

So my thought is this: How different it would have sounded if Guruji had not said, “Ashtanga yoga is Pananjali yoga,” and had said instead, “Jois yoga is Patanjali yoga.”

Posted by Bobbie

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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