I no longer write as prolifically as I once did. I started this blog in 2005 and the Yoga Blogosphere as changed tremendously in 10 years. Modern Yoga Bloggers have forgotten whom their elders are.
What some bloggers write about now I wrote about 3, 5, even 7 years ago: ageism, diversity, “slow yoga.” “Slow Yoga” is a thing now (Google it) and I’ve been teaching slow since 2005 when I first came back from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in India. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But sometimes things scream to be called out and discussed.
A long time, old school yoga teacher told me that where she’s from a yoga studio requires newbie teachers to “brand” themselves before finishing a one month yoga teacher training, i.e., make a website, a Facebook page, social media presence, etc., etc. etc.
Do the math. If a large city has 1000+ YTTs, old school teachers like her and I are doomed.
BRANDING before teaching.
BRANDING before experiencing.
BRANDING before Living Your Yoga.
When I did my first website it took me 6 months to write my yoga bio. Even after I studied in India the first time I thought that if I wrote too much about myself it would look like I was bragging.
Some people say that social media is the new normal. But I believe in what Buckminster Fuller said:
“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”
Believe me, I try. But I’m tired. Damn tired. I believe in old school yoga teacher training, mentoring. But my mentoring page is the loneliest page on my website. I am not concerned with offering a standard 200 or 300 hour training because I believe in quality, not quantity. Unfortunately, that’s not good for business because people chase the piece of paper that proclaims them a certified yoga teacher. I can easily put together a 200 or 300 hour training based on 10 years of notes from the Mandiram alone. But frankly, no one is interested. Here. I believe it takes 10 years of yoga teaching to learn how to teach besides having a dedicated personal yoga and meditation practice. No one wants to hear that.
Like in real estate, it’s about location, location, location. All I know is that in my area yoga teachers are a dime a dozen. With yoga studios cranking out new teachers every week, there is no place for Yoga Elders. I’m not whining, I’m just being realistic.
So I’m leaving. Done, baby. I’m going somewhere where what I teach is valued and appreciated. One of my students gave me a testimonial:
“Linda is Yoga. Living, breathing, in every aspect. Caring, supportive, knowledgeable, fun-loving, she walks the talk.”
That’s why I’m leaving. Because I have too much passion for what I do if that makes any sense.
Goddess willing, I’ll live in Kerala, India by the end of next year and into 2017. I’ve already started to look at houses to rent with space to teach. I’ve been asked to do teacher trainings in India. When I’m in India and I am asked what I do and I say “I’m a yoga teacher” people actually have respect for that. They ask me who my guru is instead of telling me, “I do Pilates.” No one asks me what style of yoga do I teach. I’m asked not to leave, to stay and teach, to help people. No one pillories me for using the phrase “real yoga.”
Yeah, I said it. REAL YOGA. I’ve always said the real yoga kicks in during a health crisis or dealing with your own mortality. My yoga sadhana helped me through an ovarian cancer scare years ago. It made me realize that “I am not this body” and it brought me peace. When my time comes I’ll be chanting and doing pranayama, Goddess willing. Thanks to my friend Cora Wen for making this beautiful video.
But what Cora talks about in her video, you can’t brand it. You can’t Instagram it, You can’t trademark it.
Much has been written in this blog and others about the material things of Yoga. Look over the last 10 years of Yoga Journal (or any other recent yoga magazine) to see how many ads there are to get yoga dudettes and dudes (although mostly the dudettes) to buy/consume things that we are supposed to let go of. That is, all the accoutrements of yoga such as $100 pants, detox and cleansing rituals, $200 malas to help you get deeper into meditation (as if the Rs 50 ones I get in India don’t work), and Swarovski crystal chakra necklaces to help you balance your chakras.
Since I’ve been writing this blog for the last 10 years, it amuses me to no end on how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Same yoga shit, different day. I wrote on the commercialization of yoga a good 7 years ago at least.
So when a new reader who has recently discovered this blog wrote me, I had to smile. YES! This old blog is still appreciated and that does this Krazy Old Yogini’s heart good. The new reader nailed it: YOGA AS COMMODITY. I remember the words of a long ago student who believed that the way yoga is taught in the West serves to reinforce negative patterns (of speed, busy-ness, mindLESSness) instead of creating new ones (slowing down, stillness, mindFULLness.) The addictions are fed, not lessened.
“It’s funny because I came to the practice in order to alleviate hardcore issues with insomnia which I eventually learned was hardcore anxiety. Then, like so many, I became obsessed with the superficial and physical aspects of yoga and thought the mental part was only meditation.
In the US it seems we define yoga as just the physical practice and how it can be “used” (weight loss, “enlightenment”, calming, better sex.) Sigh.I wanted to be a yoga expert and I read all of the literature and bought all of the clothes and took all the types of classes and it wasn’t until a life event smacked me right in the face that I realized – all I need to do is practice. And through practice I have shed so much that was so unnecessary, both material things and ideas or feelings that I was attached to.
There are many vessels through which people learn this lesson but for me it was Ashtanga that taught me. The heavy emphasis on practice made me show up consistently and didn’t let me analyze the practice. In practice nothing matters but whether or not you showed up and did what you can do. Through that I feel the real journey has begun for me and things are starting to unravel both beautifully and painfully at times (emotionally, not physically.)
I devoured the Babarazzi’s blog because it was another smack in the face that made me realize – why do I buy Lululemon, why do I want to do cool backbends, why is my subscription to Yoga Journal so important to me? Because it’s been shoved in my face and I have been told that it’s necessary. I’ve since realized that these things actually have nothing to do with yoga. It’s very refreshing.
I’m sad to hear that you do not continue to create new posts, but I have subscribed anyway. I appreciate your honest take on the subject and wish there were bloggers doing what you’re doing. There’s so much Yoga Journal and elephant journal and we don’t even realize how toxic they are!”
I stated writing this blog BYS — Before Yoga Selfies. Now there are yoga dudettes almost killing themselves on electrified rail tracks for likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter.
“The stream of wishy washy spirituality and body-insane yoga culture streams into my world every single day. I catch myself, sometimes, and wonder how with a shred of honesty I can associate myself with this stuff; how do I teach when most teaching is such a sham? How do I ask people to connect with their own flesh when ‘flesh’ is a loaded word? I pause, often, when I’m writing and when I’m standing in front of a class; the words I most want to say are so bloody, so honest, so scary I’m not sure I should.”
I used to be a prolific yoga blogger. I used to be a well-known yoga blogger, once called a fierce voice in the yoga blogosphere, and was even quoted in the New York Times during the Tara Stiles controversy. But everything has its expiration date.
I got tired. I got tired of writing about Yoga in OMerika because I thought, “what else can I write about?” I read this excellent piece today and it addresses issues that I wrote about years ago. Bottom line, same shit, different day. Not much has changed since I started writing this blog in 2005, almost 10 years ago. The funny thing is, you know how each generation thinks they’re original, like they’re the first ones to come up with an idea? Kinda sorta how I feel when I read a yoga blog nowadays, like, been there, done that, you young whipper-snapper, ’cause back in my day….
It has also appeared for quite some time that the yoga blogosphere has become a tad cliquey, all rah rah, kiss kiss, pat each other on the back. OK, a lot cliquey. When I first started this blog the yoga blogosphere was a bit more outlaw-ish, the voices were of different tones, not so scholarly. Not that there is anything wrong with scholarly (hey, I went to grad school), but I remember being called “anti-intellectual” by a well-known yoga blogger because I dared to question the overanalysis and didacticism. I knew I was no longer in the top echelon of yoga bloggers (my tongue is firmly in cheek) when this post only received 5 comments where in the past I know it would have generated many more. One has to be one of the Kool Kids now, someone who is Someone to continue to get your blog posts Facebooked, tweeted, or interviewed or asked to review books. You know what Groucho Marx said about being a member of a club. Another photo of the latest celeb du jour walking into a yoga studio? Really?
Over the past year I have had some major epiphanies that rocked my energy body. Last March I dealt with two very problematic people on my yoga retreat in India who I realized later were my teachers. Of course I did not realize it at the time because then I only wanted to kick their ungrateful asses into the Arabian Sea, but they taught me much about how to deal with people of their types so I thank them. They were a lesson in how everyone can be your teacher and the more difficult ones more so.
I dealt with betrayal. Lots and lots of meditation helped me with that one. I am here to tell you that if someone fucks with you, just sit and meditate daily on their sorry ass until the vision of them no longer brings up feelings of attachment or aversion, until you can see them and feel neutrality. It works and it’s wonderful. Very freeing. I learned to finally love myself completely. Not a bad lesson to learn as I enter my 6th decade of this incarnation.
I dealt with trust issues I have with women and also (again) in my local yoga world. The resolution to that is that I am damn fine with being alone and a loner. Well, I was already, but I truly came into my own in 2013. Probably because I finally owned what I do. I’ve been teaching since 2002 and it took me all this time to realize that yes, I AM a damn good teacher, I am unique in what I do and fuck outside validation, I don’t need it. My yoga is outside the box and I own the fact that what I offer is not found elsewhere. I have studied with direct students of Krishnamacharya both here and in India and am damn proud of that. Never mistake my confidence for arrogance. Yes I do say I teach Real Yoga and don’t care if someone takes offense. Mine is a bold statement and people like J.Brown who puts it out there when he says that he “seeks to change the dialog and direction of yoga practice in the west” inspire me. You bet your asana I do the same in my little corner of the yoga world, one body at a time (“…you taught me more about Yoga in five minutes than anyone I’ve ever met in a yoga class, teacher or otherwise,” said a satisfied Yoga customer.)
I also finally came into my own as an energy worker. That was a huge energetic shift for me in 2013, so much so the shift was also physical. It is no coincidence that I learned I am part Native American (more on that below) in the same year I decided to make known the energy healing work I have practiced for over 10 years — because my work is akin to that of a Medicine Woman. Energy healing is a deep, spiritual practice for me. It feels natural. I finally own that I am a facilitator of profound change.
I am happy to reside in my little yoga cave of my home studio with only two or three students in class. If all my students suddenly disappeared, I am fine with that. Bottom line, if I never taught another class in my life, I’m good. The thought of never teaching again for whatever reason used to freak me out. “Yoga teacher” used to be my identity but no longer. I have peeled my onion layers down to the core. Yoga is life, but Life is more than Yoga. DING DING DING! EPIPHANY TIME. I am not This or That because I am so much more.
The biggest revelation of 2013 came to me in the form of genetic testing and discovering my true ancestry. I grew up believing I was 50/50 German-Polish, but I also always intuited that I wasn’t. I am part Native American, enough that I can self-identify as a Native American; unfortunately, a genetic test can not determine tribe. Either I was the product of an affair or my sister was really my mother. My nephew who is only 7 years younger is probably my half-brother. How would you handle that if you found out in your late 50s that you were lied to about your heritage and parentage?
As for handling things, after planning my 8th trip to India (departure in 9 days) for yoga study, my yoga therapy course was cancelled just last week. This affected my entire trip because my trips are a tax write-off — no yoga study, no tax write-off. Plans I had made almost a year ago and reservations on planes and trains all had to be changed when I got the news. I cancelled the last 7 weeks of my trip and I would have cancelled the entire trip but I would have lost too much money in airfare and other fees so my trip changed in one day from almost 3 months to one month. Dharma 101: How Life Changes in a Second.
The day I received the news of the course cancellation I was more than a little freaked but by evening I was at peace. A deep peace and I was surprised at how deep that peace was — because YOGA ISN’T REAL YOGA UNLESS IT HELPS YOU DEAL WITH HOW LIFE CAN CHANGE IN A SECOND.
Knowing how I love India (in reality it’s a love-hate relationship), my friends thought I’d be more upset than I was about cutting my trip by more than half. Nope, not really. Because that’s where the yoga rubber hits the road. What good is your yoga if you can’t deal effectively with life’s major and minor ups and downs?
As for Ma India Herself, if this upcoming trip is my last I am good with that. Finally. Because in the past the thought of never returning to India created such angst I would shake. Even cry. India is in my bones and always will be and each time I am there I know I am Home. I know I will die there but just like Yoga Teacher became a piece of my identity, so did India. DING DING DING! EPIPHANY TIME. I am not This or That because I am so much more.
Real Yoga sure as hell ain’t about the asana but I already knew that. 108 Sun Salutations or a sick arm balance would not have helped me when I learned that the woman I thought was my mother was probably really my grandmother. Or maybe my sister is really my mother. I will never know. Made up yoga, as A. G. Mohan calls what passes for yoga nowadays, could never help me with that.
Yeah, you heard me. I’m back. But on a very limited basis.
Since I stopped writing in February I can’t tell you how many readers left comments on Facebook or wrote to me asking me to start writing again — or to write for their online yoga mags. It seriously overwhelmed me. Goddess bless you all!
We’ll see how it goes, but I’m no longer into the blah blah blah of the modern yoga scene. It bores me.
The ayurveda teacher in my last training at the Mandiram said that a yogi is one whose prana is contained and doesn’t let it leak out with unnecessary blah blah blah (among other things.) Hence, “shut up and do your practice.” So no more snaps of my tats. Hey, I SAID TATS!
Others can write about the usual yoga suspects. Like Lululemon pants, how yoga makes you sexy, or a celebrity doing yoga on the beach. Whatever.
I remember what Kausthub Desikachar told us: if we do not teach others what we have learned we are nothing more than thieves.
I want to acknowledge the two yogini bloggers who awarded me the MeMe Award. I am in good company with all of these blog award winners!
Thanks to girlwarrior of it’s all yoga, baby who said that I am “sassy, opinionated and sincere in her practice”, and thanks to Brooks at Yoga, the Mind and Culture who said “she’s really doing her yoga, and shares inspiration and road bumps along the way.” Thank you, thank you, thank you! I especially want to thank the yoga bloggers who supported me during the Troll Event — you know who you are!
I’m not really into rules but the rules to this award are that I should (1) share 7 tidbits about myself and (2) share this MeMe Blog Award with 7 blogger friends. As for those tidbits about me, I think if you read LYJ from the beginning you will certainly glean more than 7 tidbits about me (!!), but here goes:
2. I’ve been green since the first Earth Day in 1970, many years before being green became the thing to do. I helped organize my high school’s Earth Day celebration and I ordered the Earth Day flag decals (they were cool!). I’ve never seen decals like that again.
3. I am also a garden designer. My business is Loba Landscapes…Gardens With a Touch of the Wild. My niche is native plants in the home landscape and eco-gardening.
Yes, that’s my backyard.
4. I was in a riot in 1970. Sly and the Family Stone were supposed to play a concert in Grant Park in Chicago and in those days Sly was known to show up late or not at all for concerts. People got upset and a riot broke out. I ran from the police just as they started to tear gas us. Ah….those were the days…the smell of tear gas and major doobage in the air, flowers in our hair….
I still loves me some Sly!
I am sure 1970 must sound like the olden days to many of you but throw the peace sign up, it will do you no harm!
5. I was named one of Illinois’ best high school poets when I was a junior.
6. Besides being an activist for the environment, I’ve always been an activist for women’s issues. I know some of you don’t remember the days before Roe v. Wade, but at that time when I was in junior college abortions were legal in New York City. As a member of a women’s liberation group at that time, I helped a few women get to New York City.
Brenda left a comment on my Facebook page that maybe the Commenter Who Shall Remain Nameless is using reverse psychology to keep me on the air, to get me mad enough to keep me around.
Since my last post, the contributor in question to the Sadhana Bliss Chicago blog has made their Blogger profile unavailable and has changed their name to “fooled you” as if that in some way absolves him or her. You can form your own opinion about that.
I am shocked (in a good way) but heartened that two bloggers took up my cause, so to speak. Brooks wrote in her blog Yoga, the Mind and Culture:
“What provoked me to write about this is a comment she received about her announcement. It starts out like this: “would that you could go quietly into the night, but that would be too much for you to manage, wouldn’t it? at least you’re GOING.”
I am so saddened and shocked by this comment. Using a metaphor for dying quietly is just so hurtful and wrong to receive…”
…and AnthroYogini in Australia who went on to comment that it’s “cyberbullying by adults who should know better. I’m sick of people hiding behind their ISPs and typing nasty shit they’d never have the balls to say to your face.”
A blog troll is a troll is a troll so let’s not feed the trolls. They always come back to see what kind of a rise they got out of of the blogger. They lurk around, always reading the same post or comments to that post. And you know they keep coming around because you can tell by your site meter (and you also know where they live.) In actuality I probably should not have published the comment or written about it because doing that is exactly what the troll wants, but I felt that enough was enough, it was time to bring that type of activity out into daylight especially because it was in the yoga blogosphere.
Both I and this blog are acquired tastes so if you don’t like my style or my voice, don’t read. Simple. But for those of you who do like the spice, I will continue my “cathartic musings and occasional rants about my trips to India to study my heart’s passion, and my sweet adventures along the yoga path” albeit not as frequently. Only when the muse calls. I am concentrating on my upcoming trip to India and Africa.
Since I don’t want the last post for a long time to end on a sour note, I leave you with some good notes from one of my favorite musicians (and true yogi) Alice Coltrane. Enjoy.
I returned yesterday from my Level 2 Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training in Vermont to find out that there was a glaring omission in Yoga Journal’s story about yoga blogs — me. And how did I find out that Yoga Journal neglected me? From my brother from a different mother, YogaDawg. So just like a good brother he came to my rescue by mentioning me in his blog post about being anointed by Yoga Journal. He said that he “couldn’t let it go without giving you a plug at the end of my blog post”, reminding people that I continue to “kick yoga’s ass.” Thanks, bro!
Let’s see who else thinks that Yoga Journal should have put me on their A list of yoga blogs…Dr. Jay over at Yoga for Cynics who said “I think you should’ve been in the YJ blog list, too” and Yoga Dork who thinks that Yoga Journal should have also included “Linda’s Yoga Journey, Everything Yoga, Yoga Nation, Svasti and It’s All Yoga, Baby.”
I feel like Kathy Griffin. Kathy is a loud-mouthed, snarky broad from Chicago (what is it about Chicago women?) whose show My Life on the D List is hilarious (at least I think so.) The show follows her struggle as a self-proclaimed “D-list” celebrity to climb the Hollywood ladder.
Hey, wait a minute. This blog is about the same thing, only in a different world. This blog is about my journey up (and down) the yoga ladder and like Kathy, I’m also unplugged, uncensored, and unafraid to dish the dirt about what really happens on the yoga road. So how can Yoga Journal ignore me?
Yogini writers (real writers who actually get paid to write!) like Anne Cushman and Lucy Edge could not have been wrong when they wrote their kudos about LYJ. Over 30,000 global readers can’t be wrong. What’s a yogini blogger to do? I’m just so vaklempt that YJ writer Lauren Ladoceour did not think LYJ worthy enough to be listed on her yoga blog A List, especially not worthy enough to be called snarky and satirical! After four years and 300+ cathartic and snarky posts? Moi?!?
So just like Kathy Griffin who enlisted her mother, her assistants, and her Mexican housekeeper to call musicians to ask them to vote for her Grammy nominated comedy album (I know I am dating myself by calling it an “album”), I am asking all my lovely and faithful readers from all over the world to email Yoga Journal at email@example.com to tell them how you feel about their glaring omission. In no uncertain terms. Let your throat chakra open up and speak your truth. Pretend that you’re calling Simon Cowell and voting for the next American Yoga Idol. Over 30,000 readers have passed through here so let’s see if Yoga Journal’s computers can handle all the emails! Yeah! Knock ’em on their asana!
Listen, Yoga Journal, who needs your stupid list anyway? I will hold my head high and proudly channel Groucho Marx who said:
“I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member.”
So there. Besides….
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE YOGA BLOGS WHO MADE THE LIST….SERIOUSLY. MY A-LIST OF BLOGS, YOGA AND OTHERWISE, ARE IN MY BLOGROLL, SO VISIT THEM.