no more free lunch

chettinad food
typical lunch in Tamil Nadu, India — YUM!

“Emotional labor.”

What does that mean to you?

On her Facebook page in August Layla Saad said that a “complete stranger just PayPal-ed me a generous amount of money as a way of saying thank you for the emotional labor I put in to writing my open letter to spiritual white women. I’m in shock. And in tears. I did not write the letter with that expectation in mind, but I am so grateful for this unexpected gift.”

That got me thinking.  In a dozen years I’ve received two payments from readers.   Years ago I received $100 from an anonymous person who merely said “thank you.”

I’ve written this blog since 2005, a good 12 years, and over the years people have sent me countless emails telling me how much my writing meant to them.  They thought they were the only ones who felt the same way I did about shit in the Modern Yoga World.  When I have thought about completely shutting down this blog and never writing again, I get an email from someone telling me how much my words meant to them.   So I continue albeit not as prolifically because, let’s be honest: people just don’t read blogs anymore.  I have been fortunate to meet people in India in my trainings who have read my blog, one woman from Kuala Lumpur telling me that she was at the Krishanamacharya Yoga Mandiram because of me.  A few readers have told me that they consider me one of their yoga teachers even though we’ve never met and who knows if we ever will.

Today Facebook reminded me:

“If you have never visited Linda’s Yoga Journey, it’s worth every minute you can spend on it. I met Linda in India and she’s one of the most loving, sassy and funny people I’ve ever come across. She keeps it real with serious topics that the yoga community often prefers to ignore, but refuses to sensationalize them and more often than not gives you food for thought that tastes a whole lot different than the stuff we get elsewhere. She is also not one to pass up the opportunity for a good laugh. She has a solid following of educated readers from all walks of life who offer some really interesting and varied points of view on the things Linda reports on so the comments are definitely worth a read.”

I have always said that I have the best readers!  Thank you dear readers for continuing to read me for 12 years!

And to think I’ve never been podcast by J. Brown.  Or asked to give any public talks.  Or sit on any panel discussions.  Go figure!

I wrote about topics such as ageism and diversity in the Modern Yoga World long before yoga blogs like YogaDork and It’s All Yoga, Baby, and before yoga writers whose names I won’t mention because you know who they are.  Because I was considered a “fierce voice in the yoga blogosphere” by the author of this book, he put me in it.  Drove all the way from California with his dog to interview me. 🙂

As Kelly Diels says in this article: “I, as a woman, am not a community resource.”  Beginning in January 2018 I am transitioning the best of my blog posts to Patreon, a website that will allow me to get paid for my writing, i.e., my emotional and intellectual labor.  If my writing about yoga has helped you or made you see things differently, you can become a monthly supporter or pay me per piece on that site.  The posts that I transfer will no longer be available for free here and I will use Patreon as my writing outlet, no more blogging for free.

The same goes for my India travel advice.  I have received many questions over the years about how to travel in India, where to go, etc. so I am now charging $50/hr for trip planning, how to handle India, etc.  Please do not expect to pick my brain for free unless you come on one of my trips.  I have 12 yrs of India travel experience and my info can not be found in guide books.  As a solo woman traveler to India since 2005 and learning about India as much as a foreigner can, you will be paying for my emotional and intellectual India travel labor.  To curate a boutique trip to India for those who ask, I start planning it one year in advance starting with a ton of emails to the providers in India that I use.  I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had worrying about things so they are just right.  Some of you may say that it’s my “cost of doing business” but if I really charged for every hour of time that I use in planning a trip for people, the price would be exorbitant and no one could afford it.

I receive no upgrades or freebies since I am not a travel blogger with a “brand” to promote.  I pay my own way to India.   You can get some questionable advice for free online or go to a bookstore and PAY for a guide book.  Well, I am that same guidebook.

I get questions about how to start a travel blog, where to go in India, and yoga questions from strangers who ask “I have X, what yoga can help me?”  Mind blown on that one!

After all these years (how fucking stupid was I?!) I am tired of playing the role of teacher or advisor or consultant without getting paid and without even receiving acknowledgement for the time and energy I have spent in doing so.  Free advice has no value.  People value what they pay for.

No more free lunches.  To that end, I can be paid via Square Cash or if you want my Papal ID, message me.

Thank you for your future support!

Is your personal political? Yoga in the Age of Trump

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In 2010 I wrote a post entitled “in review, the personal is still political.”

My piece — STILL one of my most read posts thank you very much — was about the then and still hot topic of nudity in Yoga when Judith Lasater wrote to Yoga Journal about nakedness in Toesox ads.  Yawn if you must but it’s still a hot topic if you follow the YWS (young-white-skinny) Instagram yogalebrities.

Now America has President Trump, the most uniquely unqualified president this country has ever had.

I was in India last year when he was elected and after the results I was physically ill for three days.  I knew it wasn’t Delhi Belly.  But I had to suck it up because I had a yoga retreat to teach and we were going through the rupee crisis (PM Modi declared 500 and 1000 rupee notes worthless) at the same time so I had to keep my shit together for my students.  At least there was an American couple at the resort who were also as depressed and disgusted as I was and we commiserated and drank a lot together, wishing we didn’t have to go back to a Trumpian America.

There hasn’t been one day since 45 was elected that hasn’t been a nightmare.  He can’t go one day without tweeting or saying something incredibly nonsensical, racist, or war mongering.  NOT.  ONE.  DAY.

Travel bans.
Transgender ban in the military.
Muslims.
Building the Wall.
Mexicans who are bad hombres and rapists.
Destroying Affordable Care Act.
Women’s reproductive rights.
Charlottesville’s “fine people” neo-Nazis.
Colin Kaepernick and taking a knee.
Right to free speech.
Misogyny.
Racism.
Collusion with Russia.
Threatening North Korea with fire and fury.

MUELLER, CAN YOU JUST HURRY THE FUCK UP?!

But I digress.

What got me thinking more about all of this was the brouhaha white tears over the “take a knee” politics over the weekend and my watching the Ken Burns’ PBS special on the Vietnam War on TV right now.  Especially since I haven’t been told “America, love it or leave it” since I demonstrated against the Vietnam War.  Told on Facebook.  By white people.  Only back in the day I was told, “America, love it or leave it, hippie slut bitch.”

I grew up during the 1960s.  I was in high school from 1968-1972, when the war was at its worst and the US was also bombing Cambodia and Laos (unbeknownst to Americans at that time.)  Watching the show I remembered how I became so politicized in 1968 at such a young age, only 14.

OK, I wasn’t a typical 14 year old, whatever “typical” means to you.  I always felt different.  In 6th grade I read on a college level.  I read the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, really) by the time I was 10.  I wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up.  On my last day in the 8th grade the teacher asked us what we were going to do during our summer before going to high school.  I told her I was running away to live in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.  I ran away, but it wasn’t at 14.

I wanted to know about everything like yesterday.  I was aware that there was something out there bigger than my little spot in the all white southwest side piece of Chicago where I grew up.  For one thing, there were race issues in Chicago.

News did not come from Facebook or from 140 character tweets.  There were no accusations about fake news.  You believed the newscasters because they were middle of the road.  Hearing the American troop and enemy death counts and watching the war’s gore daily on the news (which would never happen now) affected me.  In 1968 both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.  After Dr. King was assassinated Chicago had its riots just like other cities did — “they burned down the west side!”  Then there was the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 that was termed a police riot.   I was too young to hit the streets but I watched the Chicago police bust open hippie heads and drag limp bodies down the street to throw into paddy wagons.  I thought, those hippies look like me, that could be me if I was out there.

Then there was Kent State in 1970.  I was a sophomore in high school.  Still a hippie, still hanging with older students and listening to their perspectives, aware of what was going on in the world.  How could one not be?  Or not care?  Those dead college students, if I was old enough, it could have been me.

Those were the two political turning points in my young life that politicized, indeed, radicalized, me.  Then I moved out when I was 18 and never looked back.  Demonstrated and protested as much as I could.

The Chicago 7 trial,  the Vietnam war, the first Earth Day, women’s liberation marches, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, reproductive rights in the 1970s pre-Roe v. Wade, marching for farm workers, I was in the thick of it.

Because of all that I lived through I believe America in the Age of Trump is as divided now as it was back then.  I see many who are culturally clueless (i.e., living in a bubble and living in fear) despite how vastly different information is spread compared to 50 years ago.  I still believe in the hippie idea that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  But that’s me.

Is your personal political?  I ask because a Facebook friend, a yoga teacher in Belgium, posed this question yesterday:

“This is a simple inquiry, based on what I have seen over the last few days coming from the US.

A lot of yoga teachers have reacted in their own ways about taking a knee, being supportive of the athletes and sharing pictures and articles, or in their own look-at-me ways, but ok.

And I am wondering, sincerely: where is Yoga Alliance? I mean, this is an organization that has been so vocal and present, with such good marketing that they have managed to have people believe that Yoga Alliance is the end-all-be-all of yoga organizations. … Should they say something?

I know I know, yoga is not a sport, and Yoga Alliance is currently “celebrating diversity in yoga”, soooo… should they stick to it and “stay on their lane” or rise to the occasion?”

Is being a Yogi and being political mutually exclusive?  Is Yoga political?

In India right now it is and I believe not in a good way.  It’s the reason I never got behind the hoopla of International Yoga Day.  I don’t believe that it’s all good when something like this can happen.

I suggest that western yoga peeps read up on Prime Minister Modi and Hindutva right wing politics.   Or spend more time in India than at a foo-foo two week yoga retreat or month long teacher training protected from reality before jumping on the It’s All Good Namaste bandwagon.  Salman Rushdie has said that Modi makes Trump look like an amateur.  Modi is a devoted yogi.  In India now one is forced to stand for the Indian national anthem when played before movies start in theaters.  If you don’t stand you can be arrested.

India is a democracy as America claims to be (actually founded as a Republic but I won’t split hairs.)   I guess people don’t understand that if you’re forced to stand to show “patriotism,” that’s a dictatorship.  Like North Korea.

In this old protester’s opinion, Yoga Alliance can stay out of it.  I don’t give a rat’s ass what YA has to say about anything other than yoga.  YA is a registry for yoga teachers, nothing more, nothing less.  They don’t need to get political.  They do nothing for me.

Because WE need to get political, individually, now.  Well, if you give a shit.  If you’re exhausted by what’s going on, I don’t blame you.  I am some days.  But being colorblind is not a virtue.  

I believe that the one good thing that has happened since the election is that the closet racists have come out of the rotten woodwork.  Trump made them find their cojones.  Of course Obama was hung in effigy for 8 years but now it’s Trump’s America where he tweets more about his disgust for African-American football players exercising their First Amendment rights than his outrage over neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

Mind blown by the racism and ignorance I’ve read in comments made by the friends of a FB friend and not getting shut down by him.  One (self-proclaimed proud white) man said that white privilege is a false narrative and that the US is the most non-discriminatory country in the world.  Let that sink in and then multiply that opinion by millions.  MILLIONS.

FUCK.  THAT.  SHIT.

Maybe on the individual level not every Trump voter is an overt racist.  But they were more than fine with voting for one.  That’s like going to a Klan rally and not burning the cross but they sure as hell brought the matches and stood by and watched it burn.

So….

Fuck Right Speech.

Fuck the “Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand” (sounds like a good thing but it’s not) that is a “marketing strategy that leverages social status and white privilege to create authority over other women.”

And fuck spiritual white women who don’t take a stand on white supremacy.

Layla Saad:  “Many so-called leaders in the online business world tell us that their work is about changing the world, leading revolutions and transforming people’s lives. And yet… in the face of racism and injustice they say next to nothing or simply re-share someone else’s inspirational meme.”

Preach, woman.

Because this time, the revolution WILL be televised.

It has to be.

“Being “nice” is not a Buddhist practice.  Being kind is.  It doesn’t always mean telling people what they are comfortable hearing.  For example, acknowledging the structural depth of white privilege and supremacy in America and elsewhere is not comfortable.  But if our society has a future, overcoming white supremacy is a practice we need to lean into immediately.” – Ethan Nichtern