As many of you know, when it comes time for me to make some money I turn to construction work. Philosophy, holistics and yoga just don’t pull in the big bucks like the brochures promised. I’m good at construction. They hire me to lead a couple or a couple dozen guys thru jobs that are worth anywhere for a million to ten million dollars. It’s an intense production orientated job that doesn’t care much for people. But like I said, it’s something I’m good at: my bosses know this and my workers know this. When I’m on the construction site and I see someone doing something stupid, I have no fear of asking them, in the most lighthearted manner ever, “what the fuck are you doing?” But my criticism is not without it’s constructive qualities and after I show someone what they should be doing, we’re all friends again and there’s actually a lot of laughter and commradery on my crews.
But in the yoga world I tend to bite my tongue and not say anything when I see people doing or saying asinine things; and there are a lot of such things coming from the west when it comes to yoga.
It’s the that before Diwali, the moon is very weak. Perhaps this is suppressing my sensitive side because it’s time to have my say. Mars is also strong in my chart and sitting in a strong position for me these days. Mars is also known as ‘the cutter.’ So let me start high and work my way down.
Jai Kai seems to be quite a yoga guru, at least western Canada. I recently read a blog post he wrote on meditation and levitation. Yes really: levitation. First off, anyone who is interested in levitation ought to forget about yoga and join the circus. I’m sure such a thing is possible, but Jai Kai can neither perform this feat, nor has he ever witnessed it. So why the hell is he writing about it? Because it’s a gimmick and he has yoga and ayurveda certificates to sell. I’m sure Jai is very knowledgeable and of good intention, but whenever someone starts waving gimmicks in from of you you have to start asking questions. This is one of the simplest means of detecting what I call a bullshit baba in India. They’re generally more concerned with their own welfare than with anyone else’s.
It might be true that yoga is a sacred art, but it’s also practical. It must be practical. If you exercise there’s a very good chance you’ll become more fit. If you meditate you’ll likely become more peaceful. If you practice trataka your concentration is bound to improve. Pranayama is certainly going to have benefits for your breathing. This is such common sense that it can hardly be considered scientific, though I’m sure scientist would give each practice a passing grade at its own specialty. Yoga is practical stuff. Yoga and Ayurveda are practical arts where form and function can come together with beautiful symmetry and really elevate your quality of life and clarity of mind. Yes, the good books also mention levitation and several other siddhis, but even the good books say that these things should be of the least concern. I’m pretty sure they are only mentioned so that if you happen to begin levitating someday, you have some idea why.
I found Jai’s article in a Facebook group I belong to from Edmonton, Canada. Bali is of course the place to be if you’re a yoga person; Edmonton is not so much. Bikram yoga has become a million (likely a billion) dollar business in North America by cranking up the heat to better mimic the atmosphere in India; but if they were really interested in mimicking India’s atmosphere they would have to spread shit and garbage around the room. These sorts of atmospheric changes don’t seem to have caught on in the west yet. But I wanted to talk about Bali blogging.
In this post, Becca, who I’m sure is a very nice person and good yogini, writes about her amazing time in Bali. She wants us all to know that we are beautiful on the inside. My problem with this is not the message, because we all are beautiful on the inside, but with her way of presenting it thru the lens of the beautiful paradise yoga Island of Bali. She writes so much about the physical beauty of the island that I have to ask if she has seen her own inner beauty or if she merely finds inspiration from outer beauty.
And last but not least is a yogini I met in Kamloops when I was there in the spring. Another nice girl. She was telling me about the yoga studios in town when she mentioned the Tantric studio which was the main competition for the orthodox practice she offered out of her studio. She complained that people were going to the Tantra studio because tantra allowed them to do what they want. What she offered was pure yoga. We talked about these things while she got drunk and feasted on meat. She must save her purity for the studio. But then I recently noticed that one of the popular yoga teachers from Edmonton is also in the business of selling alcohol as a representative.
But this is what yoga has become in the west. At least 50% of western yogis are merely merchants who will only teach you the art of merchandising, another 40% are into health and fitness and you can learn these things well from them, but only a very optimistic 10% are yoga teachers who can actually teach you something about yoga. Many people tell me that yoga is no longer even about fitness in the west, that it has sunk even lower and is now merely expected in many social circles in order to maintain ones standing and take part in the after yoga organic coffee house gathering.
When I talk to my Indian yoga friends about these things we all have a good laugh together. It’s madness what western people are doing with this sacred art. I hope you can recognise the beauty inherent in the madness and laugh as well. Much that is called yoga should not be taken very seriously.
Om Namah Shivaya