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Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 month ago

Most yoga teachers and practitioners don’t do yoga.
What they do instead is a series of breaths and movements (which happen to originate from the East) and then overlay those with an array of disconnected New Age spiritual ideas and practices. It is these ideas that are the source of the problem.
Yoga itself, when practiced within or alongside some serious investigation of the Vedas, the Gita or the Puranas, would not produce such hypocrisy or narcissism. It’s the New Age overlay – which is essentially Wokeness 101 – that is the problem.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

Does it matter? There are so many myths about what is pure yoga. What matters is does it help your body and your relaxation. Maybe that deep relaxation will help you look inside yourself and help you live a better life.

Michele Coriale
Michele Coriale
1 month ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

As a former “yogi” turned Christian, I can say with discernment, the relaxing effects of yoga are nothing compared to the deep sense of peace and love we feel by receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ IS the Holy Spirit. If we’re not talking about Jesus when we talk about the “Holy Spirit,” we are in denial about what the Holy Spirit is.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michele Coriale
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

Jeez you didn’t see the point of this article did you?
It flew completely over your little yoga centric head.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 month ago

Interesting and, in some ways, dispiriting article, but I think there’s still hope for people who want to attend a yoga class without being caught up in the woke hysteria.
My wife is a long-time yoga practitioner and she goes to bargain-priced gyms such as 24 Hour Fitness which has a visiting yoga instructor. Yoga is only one of their offerings, however, and they do most of their business providing traditional gym services such as weight and resistance training.
I think the behavior Kat Rosenfield describes occurs mostly in the more expensive, up-market, dedicated yoga salons which attract people who’re as much into virtue-signaling, and being seen to do yoga, as they’re into the yoga itself. I doubt those folks spend much time in the likes of 24 Hour Fitness. Stay away from the professional class if you want to avoid woke nonsense, imo.

Leif Rose
Leif Rose
1 month ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The “unprofessional” purple haired class in California are worse. I’ll never forget the strut of the female yogi in the locker room after class. (BIKRAM Yoga in Old Town. A sweaty old studio next to the 5 freeway.) She was completely bare, with a head to toe full body tattoo of a tiger that wrapped around her torso and ended at her feet. Completely waxed, with full body piercings. Including downtown. It’s a religion. When they were all shuttered for the lockdowns, they lost their places of self worship. Lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth for this set.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 month ago
Reply to  Leif Rose

More tea vicar?

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  J Bryant

No. The classes in gyms are quite often geared up for fit gym bunnies, with one-size fits all classes (it doesn’t). It’s usually not the best environment for the average person, especially beginners or people with physical challenges. In my experience dedicated yoga studios are the best places to find high quality coaching with a variety of classes to meet different levels, plus the right props. Maybe you haven’t actually been to one yourself?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Your wife is as you say a practitioner and not an instructor. She is not trying to make a living, good or otherwise, out of it. So much of the woke debate is an argument about who has the right to milk the masses and who does not.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 month ago

Wow, that link to the Buzzfeed article in the above piece was a psychedelic trip down the proverbial rabbit hole! Thank you, Kat, for another informative, thoughtful and lively essay.
The scene you describe makes me think of the left wing of Orwell’s time, tearing itself apart over and over again with arguments about correct interpretations of the Party line. Now as ever, the liberal left spends more time on infighting than in fighting its purported enemies. Probably just as well, on balance, but I fear there’ll be a lot of “collateral damage” before we awake from the latest fever dream.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Upvote, although the left you describe is the authoritarian pseudo-progressive left, rather than the liberal left.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Agree wholeheartedly: thanks for the clarification. As with Orwell himself, who was genuinely liberal and open to vigorous debate, of course.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

You’re most welcome. Hence my definition of wokeness: the authoritarian pseudo-progressive usurpation of liberalism.

Last edited 1 month ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

And very scary it was down that rabbit hole!

N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago

Imposing modern ideas about justice and inclusivity (wokeness) onto what is supposedly an ancient Indian practice smacks of yet more good old fashioned white colonialism. Surely if yoga advocates wish to honour Vedic traditions they would embrace the concept of karma? That there never was, never is and never can be any form of injustice. That everything that befalls a person is due to their karma? Including anything that resembles oppression and exclusion.
If that doesn’t suit, one way around this would be to acknowledge the work of academics like Mark Singleton – That yoga practice is not ancient. According to his scholarly 2010 book “The yoga body” modern yoga practice began in the 1930s and owes more to The British Army training manual and Swedish gymnastics as it does any ancient texts (Patanjalis suttras) which only briefly refers to “postures” or asanas. In which case there is no ancient tradition to honour. Little to appropriate and not so much to fall out about.
But that would never do. 
Perhaps, given Singlestons’ serious study of yoga asanas history it would be more appropriate for yoga students to sing “God save the Queen” at the start of a class than chant a Hindu prayer?
Might that appease the woke yogaists?

Last edited 1 month ago by N Forster
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago
Reply to  N Forster

“That there never was, never is and never can be any form of injustice.”
Though pretty non religious myself, I am pretty sure that’s not the basis of Hindu / Buddhist philosophy or the concept of karma.

“According to his scholarly 2010 book “The yoga body” modern yoga practice began in the 1930s”
You may be right that three are differences in the modern interpretation versus the older Indian traditions. And it’s perfectly fine, there is nothing wrong with “appropriation”.
But wouldn’t go so far as to say that some Europeans invented most of the concept of yoga in the 20th century. There are quite ancient Hindu temples with exquisite, detailed carvings of various yoga poses.

Last edited 1 month ago by Samir Iker
N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Singleton doesn’t claim Europeans invented it. Read the book. It is excellent. He talks about the political and social environment in which modern yoga practice came about. And what the influences were. Two of which I have mentioned.
Before commenting on what karma may or may not be, I suggest you do some reading on the topic. Being “pretty sure” doesn’t really cut it. Mind, Hinduism/Vedic traditions and Buddhism also have quite different views on karma or kamma. Don’t confuse them.
Looks like you have a fair bit of reading to do.
Crack on.

Last edited 1 month ago by N Forster
A Reno
A Reno
1 month ago
Reply to  N Forster

To me Mr. Forster, your Vedic description of Karma “that there never was, never is and never can be any form of injustice” is closer to the Buddhist Heart Sutra explanation of existence.

Karma is simply a cool religious term that could mean whatever you want. It is therefore meaningless which also fits it neatly into the Heart Sutra.

Last edited 1 month ago by A Reno
N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago
Reply to  A Reno

Please refer to the second part of my previous comment to Samir.

Last edited 1 month ago by N Forster
Mirax Path
Mirax Path
1 month ago
Reply to  N Forster

That is just silly. The hindu religion is known as Sanatana DHARMA – dharma means justice. Karma carries many meanings but it gundamentally refers to a cosmic justice system where one still strives to be just, to purify the atman and thus attain moksha. Reading a single book on yoga doesnt give you the right to be so condescendingly ignorant.

N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

You assume far too much about how much reading I’ve done and on what subjects.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

No condescension in your riposte, of course.

N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

So, I make a post pointing out what silly mess the yoga crowd have got themselves in. A crowd with which I am very familiar.
Samir objects to my post, because it didn’t accord with his idea of what Karma might be whilst at the same time admitting he doesn’t know what it is. And then objects to a non existent claim that Europeans invented yoga.
A Reno then thought my description of karma was closer to a Mahayana Buddhist idea of karma. It may be, as far as Buddhism goes I’ve never read the Heart Sutra, only large chunks of the Pali Canon. But then A Reno undermines his argument by claiming (and I quote) karma is “simply a cool religious term that could mean whatever you want. It is therefore meaningless” 
It isn’t. 
Mirax then claims something I’ve written is “silly” without referring to what and then gives a translation of the word dharma which resembles none I’ve ever seen in any tradition or religious teaching. Then claims my own post is based on having read one book. Little of this is worth engaging in. 
So I don’t.
Finally Nigel makes a nasty comment. 
That’s not very nice Nigel.
Yes, under these circumstances my desire not to get into pi**ing matches might seem like condescension. 
But then I’m not responsible for your perceptions or your reactions. You are.

Last edited 1 month ago by N Forster
R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

“The ringleader of the campaign to kill Kindness, meanwhile, was planning to open her own studio”
Fundamentally this is what it is all really about. White ‘progressive’ women using this nonsensical cult mentality as a power play to destroy their opposition. Thankfully the chickens are coming home to roost as there won’t be a single hobby or industry left for them. Inevitably, they’ll then head over to where the men are and destroy their works too. One can only hope the men can gatekeep their interests accordingly.

Edit: Also, that Buzzfeed article is terrifying. These people are borderline schizophrenic and need serious help. The worst part is that this racist person is a counsellor. How many others has she driven mad in the five years since that stream of consciousness was published? Thankfully Buzzfeed News is collapsing right now.

Last edited 1 month ago by R Wright
Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago

From my meanderings through the nether regions of YouTube, women (of any colour) are not the primary intended audience for yoga demonstrations by women (of any colour, if more often than not svelte and white ) dressed in clothing so tight that you can see the cracks (but then that might just be the point).
That Buzzfeed article was just surreal; narcissistic, racist and utterly delusional, fine for the ramblings of a personal diary perhaps, but a published article ? If you had reversed the colour of the characters, hang, drawing and quartering would have been the least the author could have expected, let alone banishment (cancelling) from polite society.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Lewis
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

I agree. The Buzzfeed article was shocking. What happened to the law on incitement of racial hatred?

Pirate Saxon
Pirate Saxon
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

The Buzzfeed article, while eye-opening (for an old white guy), indicated to me that Gaslighting the notion of victimhood has worked very well. Thankfully, in my world, the races get along quite well and the “racism” noise is encouraged by and carried forward by a small percentage of reality, though growing.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago

I have been practising tyoga for many years, and my husband has been teaching for well over 30 years, and none of this strikes a bell with me. I think it is only those who live in the big cities and are alreading surrounded and involved with this sort of stuff who endulge. Of course, within any group of people there will be some friction (even in yoga perfection is hard to come by), and there are disagreements about how practises/breathing/meditation etc should be carried out, which, in my experience, involves discussions. Aditionally, if you want to become registered as a charity there are hoops to jump through, including how you are pursuing diversity within your organisation. I can’t argue that what Ms Rosenfield says is not true, it may well be what she has seen and experienced,, all I can say is that our experiences differ.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

My experience is very similar Linda. I’ve practiced yoga for 30 (odd) years, I practice twice a week, know many yoga teachers, some of whom are good friends and went to three yoga festivals last year. One of which was the excellent World Yoga Festival; which is the one everyone recommends in this part of the world. At last year’s event I attended a lecture about the historical roots of yoga. The speaker argued that modern yoga is the product of a synergy between ancient practices and modern western approaches to health and fitness. Some people appeared to be upset by this; for about ten minutes; then it was forgotten. The well known London yoga teacher Sturt Gilchrist appears to take a similar position (no pun intended.)

These are my only personal experiences that in any way interface with the reality that the author describes. It sounds like a parallel universe to me. Sure, there are plenty of Instagram yogis and I’ve nothing against looking fabulous online. I went to Soul Circus last year, a festival with lots of Instagram yogis in attendance. It was marvelous fun, mainly because looking and feeling fabulous is marvelous fun. Duh. But they are not the core of the community, they will move on when they find something more fabulous. The kind, open, respectful people that I know will remain.

I feel so very sorry that the author practices in such a toxic environment. It sounds horrible. I can only suggest moving on, there are plenty of lovely people out there, but I can only speak about my own experience. Namaste.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

I’m glad that you have had the same experience that I have had. Pretty much all those I have been in contact with in the yoga world are encouraging and helpful. The picture at the top of the article rather tells us about the sort of yoga being pushed; in the classes that I have attended no-one dresses like that, it’s track suits or elastic waisted trousers and an emphasis on breathing practice. The type of yoga I practise encourages adaption with western approaches and for the individual.

By the way, my husband has taught a few times at the World Yoga Festival, although I don’t think he’ll be teaching this year.

Last edited 1 month ago by Linda Hutchinson
Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

Wow, that’s rather impressive, given the high standard. What style does he teach? Maybe I know him.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

He teaches in the tradition of TKV Desikachar, what used to be known as “Viniyoga”, they are very much into the idea of adjusting for the individual. My husband is particularly interested in pranayama, and the Desikachar traditrion is very big on breathing practice.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 month ago

I know what you mean Linda (and Howard), but having been in and around this scene for 25 years I recognise what the author is saying all too well. it might be truer in the city, but then again I’ve seen it in leafy and rural England as well, more than once. It is by no means universally true, but nor is it the exception to the rule, in my experience anyway.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

Whilst strimming the back garden I’ve been giving this some thought (I’m so middle aged) and I do recognise some of what the author is reporting. But in myself.

Years ago I used to do a lot of hard-core, Mysore style Astanga. That’s why I like Stewart Gilchrist, it’s a blast from the past for me. But also used to do a lot tantric/energy work. Some people, like me, get very strong psychological effects from their practice. I got a bit too happy clappy, a bit too purist, and a bit too, what’s the word, emphatic, about things in general. For years I didn’t realise what my practice was doing to me i.e. turning me into a bit of a nutter. When I “woke” to what was going on (see what I did there,) I realised I had to channel this productively. So I buried myself in voluntary work and toned down the Kundalini side of things. But i got lucky and had some excellent advice.

I see this sometimes in other people, but this aspect of yoga doesn’t get discussed. Probably because it’s only a minority that experience this, but also it frightens off the newbies. But it happens anyway, whether it’s recognised or not.

What happens to those that get that huge blast of self possession, self confidence, and “knowing.” Especially if it’s not in the culture it even acknowledge that such experiences even exist? They, probably think they have discovered a new way of being in the world, that they are fabulous in all respects and that this was always and will always be true. Yes, I had it bad.

No wonder there are do many Instagram yogis sucking down the cool aid. I was lucky, I had good advice and got over myself. But there appears to be no structure to manage this even now. Perhaps we are condemned to be surrounded by beautiful, elegant but really irritating yogis until further notice.

Last edited 1 month ago by Howard Clegg
leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
1 month ago

Hey, can I ask you and Howard below something? Maybe it’s just in the “New Age” or general fitness Yoga classes I intended, but they seem completely unaware of connective tissue diseases. I was laid out, bedridden, for a week after the last one I attended, because I have a congenital connective tissue disorder that messes with proprieception and means that with weak ligaments I overstretch.
So I was doing all sorts of poses, following their instructions, and appreciated the focus on the present and breath work and interior awareness of the body, but I ended up completing difficult poses that the instructors found challenging because my body easily contorts like a circus performer. (At the time, no one understood EDS.)
Now, I still come across smug people who insist Yoga is great for EVERYBODY and WONDERFUL for your health no matter what your condition (I’m now disabled). I kind of resent that because there are plenty of young undiagnosed mostly women going into these classes unwittingly injuring themselves and then thinking their subsequent post-exertional collapse and pain is somehow their own fault.
Modern Yoga needs to address the Ehlers Danlos Syndromes. All I got to say–but if you know of anyone who has, I’d be interested in learning about it. God bless.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

Hi Leculdesac, so sorry to hear about your troubles, it can be a bit wild west sometimes. And yoga isn’t for everyone. Ditto mindfulness.

I think part of the problem I’d that medical science or science in general doesn’t want to engage with yoga. I might be wrong, but I’ve had all kinds of frustrating circular conversations with doctors who just flatly refuse to engage with my real-time observations. Then I trot off to the back bedroom and fix myself with yoga or meditation. To whit: Ten years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fixed by processing my childhood trauma with a variety of meditation practices. I spoke to a wide variety of therapists, doctors and specialists before, during, and after. They all smiled tolerantly but clearly thought I was a bit loose in the head. But they were wrong, I’m still here and better than ever. (Insert death metal music clip here)

But, unfortunately, it works the other way too. We really have no idea why it can be so powerful from a modern physiological perspective. The science of yoga is very sophisticated and to be honest, it’s quite awe inspiring what they discovered. But is limited by the fact that they didn’t have MRI scanners or blood tests a thousand odd years ago. They had no choice to fall back on subjective observations and metaphor. Not to dis those dead Asian guys, but you have work with what you have. It seriously needs an update though.

But do I know anyone who can help you unpick or at least manage where you are now. Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t want to speculate as I don’t understand the illness. But for anxiety and pain, I’m going to be controversial and say avoid mindfulness. Samatha or Tranquility practice is much more appropriate for this kind of thing.

These practices have become fashionable again and have been rather messily resurrected as Yoga Nidra; but shorn of its technical hinterland. So you can only go do far with it. But I’m happy to be corrected on this, as my meditation is of the Buddhist variety rather than Vedanta. But If you want to dive deeper on the Buddhist path, Tibetan “Calm Abiding” or my fave, Theravadan Jhana practice is the way to go. Freaking spectacular stuff. People will tell you Jhanna is not possible outside of a monastic setting. Absolute bollocks. Don’t be put off.

I hope this helps, good luck.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

I agree that Jhana is possible outside a monastic setting, but it is more difficult to practise outside,

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

Sure is :-[ But monastics tend to set a high standard as they are probably on a formal training program and need to perform to a certain standard. For therapeutic purposes you can get good benefits from a much less demanding practice. I think.

I’ve heard of viniyoga but not practiced it. I’ve definitely heard of TVK Desikachar. That’s proper old school. How does your husband feel about the current fashion for high energy vinyasa. I’m guessing he’s horrified. But reading up on viniyoga, it might be something that Leculdesac could pursue. It sounds very non-invasive.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago

Just a quick question, Leculdesac – did your instructor have you fill in a confidential medical questionnaire? (S)he should have, and if so then it would appear to me that the person should not be teaching if (s)he did not adapt the postures for you, or just say that (s)he was unqualified to teach Hatha Yoga to a person with your condition.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

What a very long way of saying women hate each other (join a book club if you want further proof).

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

If only you were around to enlighten these confused women. Please let us know where we can read more of your wisdom.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 month ago

There must be a market for a yoga studio which welcomes everyone without indulging in anti-white racism.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
1 month ago

Er, this article is about creatures like you. Glad that you took the bait and wandered in.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago

“whether the white women who make up the majority of American yoga instructors were guilty of colonising a spiritual practice to which they had no legitimate claim.”
Speaking from first hand experience – if you mentioned the above to any of the actual “Injuns” (original version), he or she would be doubled up with laughter and find you utterly ridiculous.

All this is not meant for the benefit of the highly flexible folk who created Yoga 3000 years back, it’s all performative as always. Simply contemptible.

Last edited 1 month ago by Samir Iker
Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 month ago

I’ve just got to have one of those “Namastay in bed” mugs.

Theodore Jordan
Theodore Jordan
1 month ago

In 1972 I took 2 yoga classes in Eugene OR offered free of charge by the Ananda Marga Yoga Society. They also included 20 minutes of meditation following the stretches using a universal mantra. Ba Ba Nam inhale, Ke Va Lam exhale.

It changed my life. I’ve been doing 7 postures almost every morning now for coming on 50 years. Never been back to another yoga class.

Headstand, Shoulder stand into plow. Head to knee bend. Cobra, Bow and Lion. Only one of each. Takes all of 8 minutes. Then into Lotus, eyes closed to luxuriate in the euphoria brought on by those postures while sensing the world around me and waiting for the mind to intrude. Not fighting it, just curious which thought or vision will bubble down first. “What will be will be.”

After just 10 breaths get up and go and take on the day in a spontaneous way.

A day without yoga is a day without making love to yourself.

Arthur H
Arthur H
1 month ago

Funny, I’ve always seen Yoga as predominantly urban left wing liberal women with their pomeranians and poodles and puppet democrat votes. Leftist women are not a group of people I hold in high intellectual regard. When feminism reaches the point that it can no longer define “woman” and the male patriarchy has “inserted” itself into women’s rights, then suddenly, as a conservative, I am more feminist then Biden voting liberal democrat women.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur H

It is mostly female, but far from exclusively so, and it isn’t predominantly urban left wing liberal women, from my experience they are all over the political spectrum. But then I’m not an urbanite, and around here people don’t do things just because its fahionable.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

I’m on the same page as Linda, again. Spooky. There are plenty of pre-natal classes and bums and tums type yoga classes that are very down to earth. I’ve just got back from my weekly class actually. It was very serious and sweaty, no beautiful people at all, just folks doing what they need to stay functional. I tend to avoid the high end. I’m not groovy enough.

DAVID VAUGHAN
DAVID VAUGHAN
1 month ago

at my gym i play pick-up basketball with guys and girls of all ethnicities three days a week for hours at a time. any and all are welcome. we know each other by name. sometimes we get mad at each and argue. but we love to play, love the game. there is true camaraderie as we have formed friendships thru the years. i get an amazing workout but i don’t do it mainly for that. i do it because when playing basketball i am 10 years old again and having FUN.

Preyevate Eyeland
Preyevate Eyeland
1 month ago

Kat, I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but I noticed the use of the word “woman” and plural forms thereof in this piece.
Since the ruling class has decided that there is no definition of “woman” or “women”, you are hereby canceled.
As you and I do not know each other and are not even remotely acquainted, and while I’m sure you’d like to know that I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you, I’m positively over the moon to be the first.
Regards, and remember, “yoga is not for showing off”. But, like racism writ large, it is definitely for virtue signaling.
I’m off to grace the digital confines of the Babylon Bee now. Toodles, my recently canceled stranger…

Leif Rose
Leif Rose
1 month ago

Practiced BIKRAM yoga in San Diego for over 14 years. I was the only student who bristled at his horrible attitude and conviction for rape in Los Angeles. He’s still on the lamb in India! Fleeing his guilt. The yoga crowd are phonies. Hiding behind their eastern philosophy and “isms” lurks a narcissism and sense of self grandeur I’ve never experienced in any other place. Oh, and some nice female yogi robbed my locker in Old Town (an anniversary gift) a expensive wristwatch from my husband. How naïve of me! The article is 100% correct.

Asia Dyrkacz
Asia Dyrkacz
1 month ago

The yoga practice is to become more conscious and find a balance between mind and body. It’s a personal experience and it does not matter who is the teacher ..what they wear .. it’s about focusing on ourselves without making any judgments and becoming more aware of yourself 😉

J M
J M
1 month ago

Yoga is not meant to be Zen. Zen, or Chan, has Buddhist roots, and one must remember that Buddhism is a response to Vedic traditions. The yoga in the Bhagavad Gita is very different from the Zen foundation of no-self. In fact, the act of Yoga (there are several “Yogas”) is very much to reify the self as the Self. Reified, the self become “tied” with the Atman or Supreme Self. The goal of Zen is to extinguish the self and awaken to an understanding of…. I place a shoe on my head, kowtow, and leave. My thought is that yes! Yoga does what it is in some ways intended to do to the uninitiated. It may awaken tendencies of narcissism because you become hyper focused on you. Without guidance the you becomes overly inflated and never attains to the YOU -a universal self which comprises of other yous. We’re all us you know. And so yoga without devotion is useless. Yoga is about learning devotion to oneself whereby one should also learn devotion to others. Teach yoga with devotion and you will be without the narcissism.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
1 month ago

Wonderful article. Reminds of how much I hated Mill Valley when I lived there. The world’s most self-absorbed but least self-aware people.

Leanne B
Leanne B
1 month ago

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Kevin Flynn
Kevin Flynn
1 month ago

For an extended scholarly treatment of contemporary Western yoga’s place within the “Wellness Industry”, see Andrea Jain’s Peace, Love, Yoga. The Politics of Global Spirituality.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago

Great article, sad story. But what I don’t understand is level of anger I see in the comments. Yoga is either good for you or its not. If it’s good, find a teacher you like and fill your boots. If not walk away and find something that does help you grow, like I dunno, canoing or salsa or something.

Getting enlightened is a tough gig. You need all your energy for your own journey sometimes. Why burden yourself with other people’s baggage? Most of these “bad” white, liberal ladies you will never meet and don’t care about you anyway. So why do you care about them? I don’t get it, does this anger have some form of recreational purpose? Is it some form of reverse virtue signaling? No clue.

Last edited 1 month ago by Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Perhaps these white ladies main crime is have the temerity to be beautiful. Beautiful people in general but women in particular get a bum rap. Our society tells us that everyone can be beautiful, you just have to buy the right products and work hard at it. Really hard. And then these women have the brass neck to be elegant and beautiful and do it effortlessly. How dare they! Bitches! I smell industrial strength psychological projection here.

Last edited 1 month ago by Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Thank you for reinstating my post.

Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan
1 month ago

Interesting article and I have seen the American Popular yoga scene slowly start to implode on itself as it tries to justify it’s own self righteous and phony image that is comically counter to the whole concept of Yoga to begin with.
I have been working on a Yoga app myself based on an astrological algorithm that customizes routines based on a practitioners Indian astrology chart, so that it’s as karmically compatible as possible. I have been lucky enough to not have my app come out before the implosion, because I was afraid of ending up like Kindness Yoga. Once the mob get’s a hold of you, there is never enough apologizing that will ever placate them. It’s not about fairness, it’s about power and I hope moving forward, we take a good look at ourselves as a community and get back to basics.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago

I’ve practised yoga for 22 years, in four countries, in classes from the physical to the spiritual and everything in between. I’ve never once encountered exclusivity. People go to yoga because they’re attracted to it. Some people are just not attracted enough to try it. Sadly, in majority white areas the lack of diversity might be off-putting to people of colour. In my view this mirrors society in general rather than yoga in particular.

What stands out in most yoga classes is that people tend to bend over backwards to be kind to each other!

Jacalyn Murray
Jacalyn Murray
1 month ago

I am 60 with lifelong struggle with vertigo. Had a wonderful teacher for 4 years that always helped with modifications and empathy for my limitations. Unfortunately that studio closed and had to find a new one. After 4 classes the owner of the new studio humiliated me in front of other students and then cancelled my unlimited membership and told me good luck finding a studio that could accommodate me. Needless to say, I have been unable to find the courage to find another studio. Zen, that’s a joke. There was no help no direction only judgement and feeling like if you don’t have a PERFECT practice there is no place for me.

Andrew Sweeney
Andrew Sweeney
1 month ago

What you describe isn’t confined to yoga. I remember reading I about virtue spirals and one case study described a knitting club that showed much the same kind of degenerative behaviour.

Lori Wagner
Lori Wagner
1 month ago

I haven’t seen any of this and I do a lot of yoga, albeit mostly online since the pandemic.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

Another article on feminine toxicity, the other being the article on the Wagatha Christie court case. Unherd are really spoiling us today.

Darrin Rich
Darrin Rich
1 month ago

Social justice and the brand of liberal guilt it espouses is toxic and its deceptions foster chaos, thus giving way to individual and societal control, which by design, creates less freedom. The scolding is a way to break the spirit of others to gain more control. Do not be hoodwinked into believing their lies. Our society has confused a healthy arrogance with conceit. A healthy arrogance can be wielded to inspire others to recognize their own inherent worth and greatness.

Douglas H
Douglas H
1 month ago

I have to say that the discussion threads about this article are ironically and hilariously bitchy

Frances An
Frances An
1 month ago

I’m meant to be working on an essay for a contest but this parable on yoga sucked me in! It’s quite interesting how a combination of political evolutions and demographic characteristics (perfectionistic, upper-class white women) have warped yoga. I wonder what makes yoga culture different from other sports laden with spiritual meanings and rituals (e.g., traditional martial arts, certain folk dance forms). Why didn’t the distortions of yoga happen to karate or tai chi (I don’t know much about tai chi but both yoga and tai chi involve slow movements, I think? Sorry :/)? In any case, I think I’ll stick to the karate dojo…

Vince B
Vince B
1 month ago

Just another example of the creep of the left’s soft totalitarianism. Absolutely every human activity must be soaked in Goodthink and denuded of Wrongthink. Everything becomes so fraught, so uptight and so un-fun.
God help us all.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vince B
Lydia Tapping
Lydia Tapping
1 month ago

Yoga is ultimately a self-practice. Maybe that’s the key. £20-£25 per class is anyway hardly “inclusive”. That’s why I like teaching in local authority leisure centres!

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 month ago

Count me among those men who are performing “zero hand wringing over the whiteness of pursuits like alpine skiing, ice hockey, or the Tour de France.” In fact, I’ve taken up some beginner yoga specifically to help with a 60+ year old back, and to keep myself limber…for skiing!
Hey, I never really enjoyed or appreciated basketball in school. I naturally (genetically? culturally??) gravitated to activities like running, hiking, and skiing (both nordic and alpine). But then again, I’m about as white European as they come. And I’m an unrepentant white American conservative, so I’m blissfully free of liberal guilt!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

We need to formalise this competitive wokeness so that we can set standards and determine the wokest – a Woke Olympics if you will.
I suppose it could be incorporated into the main Olympics – for example in athletics the white runners could be given weights to carry in proportion to their country’s slavery guilt. If they do reach the finish line first then they should stop and let POC and LGBTQ people pass before them.
I think I’ll change my name to Karen, with a middle name of Karen too.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Ha, ha. The sponsors will love it, until they realise that no-one is watching anymore. Never mind it’ll be the end of the end of the world soon. We’ll all have more pressing concerns.

Last edited 1 month ago by Howard Clegg
Michelle Marchildon
Michelle Marchildon
1 month ago

Hello. I live in Denver and wrote a comprehensive piece on why Kindness Yoga dissolved. It was many things, the accusation being the spark that lit the timber. But you hit it exactly right — the more the owners said they tried to be inclusive and wanted to do the right thing, the more they were cancelled by a very vocal minority for having not been perfect. Your article did not touch on the very touchy appropriation vs appreciation argument, but all the same points could apply. We are all in various stages of appropriating and appreciating. I just read an article about white appropriation and I’m left with the thoughts that every single one of us appropriates to some extent — including those of Indian descent not born in India. And how is that not true of every single Christian church who took their teachings from a nice Jewish boy? So I’m left a little disheartened — not by the practice of yoga which I still love. But by the liberal media waiting to “gotcha” at every single turn. All my admiration to this author willing to put it out there.
My article is here:
https://www.michellemarchildon.com/blog/lets-talk-about-what-happened-to-kindness-yoga

David McDowell
David McDowell
1 month ago

More toxic feminism disguised as right wing political posturing. They didn’t say that when they demonized the patriarchy. What goes around comes around.

Last edited 1 month ago by David McDowell
Michele Coriale
Michele Coriale
1 month ago

The bigger problem in the yoga “industry” is the ego and the greedy yoga alliance’s “generosity,” allowing literally people “off the street” to run their own yoga teacher trainings. As a former—extremely dedicated—student of yoga with over 300 hours of teacher training, I look back with angst. First, yoga was originally designed as a form of emotional and hormonal discipline of young boys (Brahmacharya). How the heck it made its way to industrialization, commercialization, hyper-sexualization, and de-personalization (not to mention de-compassion-ization) must be rooted in ego. Oh, the irony. Second, the false idolatry—especially of the narcissistic teacher. “Look at me!” “Worship me!” Get the F out of here. The practice meant to eradicate the ego has literally become it.

Mrs. A
Mrs. A
1 month ago

Great article! I don’t practice yoga, but I did want to call attention to the fact that two of the ringleaders of the campaign to bring down Kindness Yoga HAVE opened their own yoga studios (shocker, I know).

One, Jordan Smiley, who IDs as “indigenous and transgender”, has opened Courageous Yoga: https://www.courageousyoga.us/
Look up photos of Jordan Smiley online and you’ll find photos of a woman who’s whiter than Rachel Dolezal (again, shocker, I know).
The other, Davidia Turner, who’s black, has opened a “virtual” yoga studio via her website: https://www.davidiaturner.com/exploreyoga

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

“The last news report on the Kindness Yoga cancellation noted that Harrington and his wife were frantically trying to sell their home to cover the costs of their lost livelihood. The ringleader of the campaign to kill Kindness, meanwhile, was planning to open her own studio, although it doesn’t look like she ever actually got around to it.”

What amazes me is that in the USA, where you can sue or get sued for seemingly anything at all, that the woman concerned either hasn’t been, or cannot be, sued for the demonstrable damage she has done to the Harringtons.

I am genuinely confused as to why this is.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 month ago

What has gone wrong in the USA? Too much time is spent examining navels instead of getting on with it. There are some things that just are and don’t need to be anything more. There are plenty of yoga classes that cater for the “Asian” population. Wonder why that is? Maybe if the yoga instructors thought a bit more widely they would come to the conclusion that what they are doing serves a purpose and that is enough.