dropping the curtain

original art Karin Bartimole

“When you are truly genuine, there will invariably be people who do not accept you. And in that case, you must be your own badass self, without apology.”
(Katie Goodman)

“Yoga is not for people who are interested in staying the same.”
(David Life)

My decision to stop writing this blog came to me in India. I returned from India just last Thursday and my final blog post brewed in the back of my mind ever since the last Tara Stiles “rebel” story in the New York Times came out. Here I was in India and people emailed me telling me that I was quoted in the New York Times. I appreciated their attention (I think), but my first thoughts were Holy Shiva, I can’t get away from the bullshit that is now part of modern yoga (yes, bullshit, and if you don’t like that word, get over it) even though I am thousands of miles away. I thought it must be a slow news day for the New York Times when the writer had to dig up a story that yoga bloggers wrote about last summer.

Does the phrase “been there, done that” have any meaning?

But actually my decision to stop writing has been almost 6 months in the making ever since an article was written about me by the current yoga editor of elephant journal that seemingly pitted me against Tara Stiles, my yoga vs. her yoga.

While the writer thought the story complimentary, I felt blindsided and betrayed. He did not feel it necessary to ask my permission or even to ask my opinion before he wrote about me. While he apologized to me months later for writing the story, it did not matter at that point. Intention is everything and you can’t unring a bell. To me his story brought to light what this modern yoga scene has become: us v. them. The rightous v. the unrightous. The purists v. the modernists. Old v. young. Thick v. skinny. The Lulus v. The WalMarts.

Back in the day when I got into yoga (and no, not the prehistoric days although it sure as hell feels like it sometimes), yoga was just yoga. No one gave a shit what you wore or how your yoga was labeled.

As one reader wrote on my Facebook wall, “on the psychological/spiritual side, perception is reality, which is different for everyone…the non-dualism of advaita wisdom does not map to North American uber-dualism.”

I got over his offense almost as soon as it happened, but it set the wheels in motion to euthanize this blog.

I have always written about what my real yoga is. I really don’t know how often I can repeat this before people understand it: I don’t care what your yoga is, I know what mine is, but one thing that I know is that if something isn’t changing for you off the mat or off the cushion, then it’s not yoga. That’s Yoga Sutras 101.

No bullshit, basic shit. Like compost for your garden, yoga is the compost for the garden of your mind/body/spirit.

And no apologies to those who hate the phrase “real yoga.” I’m tired of that judgment, too. It dawned on me the other day that even in the yoga world, political correctness abounds. Certain things are not supposed to be said for fear of offending. Anyone who criticizes or questions the yoga status quo is called a “hater” or “judgmental” in the yoga blogosphere.

Bullshit.

As a reminder after that last expletive, I heard Jack Kornfield say that anyone who thinks those on the spiritual path are not allowed to become angry or upset anymore, well, those people have a kindergarten view of spirituality. I bow to Jack Kornfield.

Yes, I am sensitive about the topic of “real yoga.” Over the five years of writing this blog I’ve caught flak about being outspoken and that has made me misunderstood at best and unpopular at worst. I’ve been described as being passionate in my defense of yoga in the face of commercialism, exploitation, and misunderstanding. If the body cult of modern Americanized yoga is right, then I’d rather be wrong.

So I am moving on. I am not this body, I am not my thoughts, and I am certainly not this blog. When I started writing there weren’t that many yoga blogs, I guess I was one of the first ones that people noticed. Now, just like there are hundreds of yoga teaching programs, there are hundreds of yoga blogs. I don’t need to write anymore because it’s all already being said on a daily basis. And actually, what is being said has already been said over and over again, there is nothing new under the sun — I learned that at a supposed “meditation retreat” in India.

So I am moving inward. I feel a closing in instead of expansion, but not a contraction in a negative way. There is a Kabbalistic concept called Tzimtzum which means Divine Contraction. The thinking is that if God is infinite, he would have to draw in and so make a void into which creation can come. According to Wikipedia, “Tzimtzum…is a term used in the kabbalistic teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist. This contraction, forming an “empty space” in which creation could begin, is known as the Tzimtzum.”

I have had more than a few experiences in India that some call “shakti blasts” and they are impossible to explain unless you have felt them. But they have always changed me. Change brings out either the best or the worst out in a person. I feel that my experiences have brought out the best in me although others may not agree. But as the jyotish told me, those others should never be my concern. Standing in my own truth is my only power.

So I am contracting in order to allow a new creation. I have been told by more than a few spiritual adepts and most recently by the jyotish in India that I am destined for great things, things I will not write about because they would be misread as being egotisical and indeed, impossible. But I know my path as surely as I know my own name. Changes have already begun by my signing up for a training in teaching yoga to trauma survivors. I am also applying for a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology program. The next time I return to India it will not be as a student.

My past has marked me and it made me a beautiful palimpsest. I jumped into the Ganges on a most auspicious day and washed myself clean so that I can be used again. You either dance with life or burn and become bitter. There isn’t any other choice. Change is inevitable and unavoidable. It’s just life.

And real yoga is always about life.

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27 thoughts on “dropping the curtain

  1. I agree that “real yoga” means something is changing.

    What has been consistently offensive is not the use of that phrase, but the assumption that anyone, including you, has any idea what is going on inside someone else based purely on externals.

  2. actually, Christine, I never make any claims about what I “know” is going on inside someone. what's mine is mine, what's yours is yours. and I have ALWAYS said, I don't care what “your” yoga is.

    but thanks for your good wishes! :D

  3. We are sad to see Linda's blog go. After 6 years and more than 400 yoga posts, she has been honest, insightful, controversial but always true to herself and we wish her the best. ~Namaste

  4. Wish I had known about you before now, but still enjoyed this post. I started yoga in “Miriam from India's” living room in south Louisiana 36 years ago, back before yoga was called anything but “yoga.” I shared this time with an 80 year old student who stood on her head in the middle of the room and all those inbetween her and me, the wide open newbie. It changed my life and continues to.

  5. Everything has its time. But how wonderful that this blogging world has brought about friendships that otherwise wouldn't have been possible!

    Perhaps you won't be blogging here (but then again, things might change), but it's been wonderful to get to know you and now, to be able to call you a friend.

    Your writing has always been brave and honest. Here's hoping we get to meet this year, but if not then, another time. It's sure to happen now. :)

  6. I will miss your blog. Beautiful and useful words were found every time I came here. I hope I can attend one of your retreats some day.

  7. Like Blake, I wish I had discovered your blog sooner. Hoping you will leave it up as an archive so I can go back and look at your previous posts. And thanks for the introduction to the concept of Tzimtzum.

  8. Your blog is wonderful, inspiring, and real because you write your truth. I will miss reading. Just wanted to say 'thank you' for what you have shared with your writing…Best wishes,
    KB

  9. well, at least we have facebook! ;) i'll miss your blog, but i know that we haven't seen or heard the last of you. many bright and amazing adventures lie ahead, i'm sure! xo

  10. Lots of luck on the next leg of your adventure, Linda. Your voice will be missed. Maybe you can post every now and again on FB so we know what you've been up to.
    Om Shanti…

  11. Dear Linda
    I would certainly like to be your friend in FB, so I can at least read your wisdom words from time to time. Thanks for your writing in the past.
    hugs
    Arturo

  12. Dear Linda,

    I have never been much of a commenter, but on this occasion I feel I have to. I'm very sorry to hear you decided to stop blogging, I will miss your bits of wisdom a lot! I don't care what the NYT or anyone else for that matter has to say about you and your writings; they are REAL. There's nothing more interesting and supportive than hearing from someone else who's found her path and lives it!

    I understand your choice not to write about your future endeavours. 'Weird' things will happen and an open to all blog is probably not the best medium to share these experiences (they will think you are going crazy probably). Maybe you'll find another medium in the future. Who knows.

    Please accept my gratitude for all you've offered us these years. I hope many blessings will come on your way. Take care.

    Medea

  13. I'm sad for me and many others, but happy for you that you have decided to close your blog. Your writing is courageous in its honesty, compassionate, and always respectful of yoga. I am grateful to have gotten to know you. I'm sending mudita your way, for this next leg of your yoga journey.

  14. After a long hiatus from blogging due to a Lonely Planet assignment, I'm back to posting and to reading other yoga blogs. So I just discovered your big announcement today.

    I feel as if I know you. (And I'm one of the newer bloggers.)

    When I read that recent Times article quoting you, I, too, had qualms. It tried to pigeonhole “types” to add dramatic tension to the article. I can see why you're sick of the whole yoga “scene.”

    My blog is about yoga culture, so to speak, so these phenomena intrigue me. But, really, these “outward” observations should be a minor part of the real practice, which is “inward,” very personal and very quiet.

    Anyway, I've always respected your honesty and authenticity. Thanks for giving me much food for thought. You're in Chicago? If ever I'm in the windy city, I will look you up.

    YogaSpy
    http://yogaspy.com

  15. Linda it's the best blog – let alone yoga blog – I have ever read. One chapter closes, another opens and as always your fearlessness, sharp intellect and wide open heart are an inspiration. Thank you.

  16. Linda, you have a very powerful voice and I have always enjoyed and respected your thoughts. I wish I had commented before because on many points we agree, but I am glad I can comment now to wish you the very best on your journey ahead. :) I will miss your words of wisdom.

  17. Pingback: enough’s enough | linda's yoga journey

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  19. Thankyou Linda for all your efforts to bring to the worlds attention -Yoga is Yoga ! I see the lycra clad gymnastics “practiced” in so many studios around the globe as about as far away from Krishnamacharya’s yoga as you can get.
    I humbly bow to you for your persistence and respect you for sticking to the truth ! I hope to meet you somewhere on the path to nowhere someday.
    big love

    the one armed Tasmanian yoga bandit x

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