Yoga controversies, teacher firings and corporatization

I’ve just finished reading about the (apparently) latest yoga controversy: the firing of yoga teacher Marco Rojas from Pure Yoga in New York City.

The NY Post covered it, and then so did Yoga Dork.

Marco Rojas, via the nypost

At the heart of the story seems to be a long-simmering disagreement between him and Pure over its corporate business practices.

Yes, the old yoga as a business conundrum. And don’t think business wasn’t involved. According to the Post, Rojas had 500 students a week. (Not sure how many classes that was, but still…)

Commenters at Yoga Dork seem — if I may paint them broadly — largely resigned to the fact that “controversies” like this will just continue if not increase because yoga is becoming more and more a business. (There is lots of mention of the Anusara stuff, of course.) There’s also the overall idea that this runs counter to whatever is pure about yoga.

It made me realize that it feels like Ashtanga’s “controversy” over Jois Yoga, if it even amounted to that, has pretty well blown right on past. I’m sure it is more present for some people, but there is no ongoing drama like there is with Anusara.

My suspicion is that this is thanks to the lack of bureaucracy that has underpinned Ashtanga, which was something Eddie Stern mentioned at the Confluence. (I find our making reference to it here.) Guruji drew students to him, and they in turn went out into the world and spread Ashtanga “with almost no bureaucracy,” as Eddie put it.

Without all that red tape, money ledgers, committees on the creation of committees, etc., Ashtanga has managed (I think, obviously in a very biased way( to remain pretty “pure.” (That sense of purity was why, I suspect, people reacted with various degrees of wariness to Jois Yoga.)

The simplicity of walking into our shala each morning — and I’m often the first one or two there — rolling out my mat, saying the opening chant quietly to myself and then beginning my practice certainly seems to me pretty pure.

And not at all controversial or corporate. And something absolutely worth maintaining in Ashtanga.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Yoga controversies, teacher firings and corporatization”

  1. If one is a householder and earns a living and pays to maintain and support their family and self teaching yoga- then yoga is their “business” just as it was Guruji’s business. It was how he earned. And he encouraged many of us to earn our livlihoods in this way. If we apply apply our growing knowledge of yoga and its teaching with sound financial and business pracitces, let it be that we may have even a fraction of the financial success and security of our dear teacher.

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