Written by the mysterious Patanjali way back around 250 B.C.E., this cryptic collection of 195 short statements (“sutras” or aphorisms), is by far the closest thing to a common sacred text that we’ve got in the yoga community today.
On one level, I love this. In a culture where knowledge of what happened two months ago regularly gets thrown in the trash bin of forgotten history, it’s exciting to discover that so many people care about a truly ancient text.
More often than not, I find myself irritated by the way that the YS’s treated by American yogis.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I think that it’s safe to assume that the YS was not written as a feel-good text for more-or-less-normal 21st century Americans like me.
Which is why it gets my goat when I keep running across smarmy paeans to “how-the-Yoga-Sutra-can-help-you-be-the-best-healthy-and-happy-you!” (Perhaps accompanied by “five easy poses for everlasting bliss” you can do in 15 minutes or less . . . )
OK, I’m being snarky. But consider how articles such as the tellingly entitled “Paths to Happiness” (published in Yoga Journal) seek to assure us that the YS fits oh-so-comfortably into our contemporary culture:
Centuries ago, the great sage Patanjali laid out a kind of map—one that suggests not just asana and meditation but also attitudes and behaviors—to help you chart your own course to contentment.
At first glance, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra . . . may seem esoteric and impenetrable. But the ancient manual is worth a closer look, because it contains essential advice for daily living. ‘Patanjali has offered us guidelines that will allow us to have enhanced emotional and mental well-being and a more fulfilling and meaningful life . . . The Yoga Sutra is specifically designed to lead to greater happiness and spiritual fulfillment for you and everyone around you.’
Um, really? That’s funny, because I thought that the YS was about realizing Samadhi, or “assimilation with pure Being.”
But wait, you may say – what’s the difference? Isn’t Samadhi just another term for “happiness”? Like that blissful feeling I get seeing an amazing sunset or playing with my cute puppy in the garden?
Not to be a party pooper, but . . . really, I don’t think so.
Like many ‘yoga’ categories these days, there are now a wide range of conferences (and price tags), luckily there are some a la carte options so that you can enjoy a little taste of everything.
The Splurge: This year is the first Yoga Journal Conference to hit NYC (May 15-May 18). While some big wigs in the yoga world fill the schedule, it is still rather spendy for most yogis (it could very well be the whole piggybank), however it is still cheaper than traveling to another city if you are a New York yogi.
Here are some worthy freebean-recommended happenings:
The Steal: After a weekend of YJC splurging, your wallet and asana will craving the low-budget yoga fix NY Yoga & Raw Food Expo (May 29-May 31) promises to offer. For a mere $20/day ($15 in advance) or just $35 for all 3 days ($30 in advance) you get full access to the expo and more! Here are some of the highlights:
Please share your findings if you attend – the good, the okay, the uplifting and even the not-so-good!
Yoga Journal celebrity teachers discuss how to stay afloat as a “yoga professional”. Sometimes obvious, sometimes funny, sometimes slightly disturbing, interesting nevertheless…
2009 Yoga Journal San Francisco Conference
Friday, January 16, 2009
With Jason Crandell, Pretzel France, Cyndi Lee, and Rogelio Nunez. Moderated by Terri Kennedy from Yoga Alliance.
2009 Yoga Journal Grand Geneva Conference
Friday, March 27, 2009
Panel Discussion: “The Business of Being a Yoga Teacher”
with Jason Crandell, Debra Hennesy, Cyndi Lee, and David Swenson.
Moderated by Tracey Bartos from Yoga Alliance.
posted april 6, 2009 by YogaDork
Today is Macho Monday apparently…
Should Men Do Yoga? Yoga Journal’s Buzz Blog re-posits askmen.com’s rather absurd debate of why and why not, to a call for true stories of “how”. As in, how has yoga positively affected you guys out there? You know, guys who actually practice yoga and aren’t too insecure to admit it.
Oh sure they have an Argument FOR Yoga, but frankly it’s just as annoying as the opposition in its explanation of origins and “benefits” tiptoeing around to be sure not to sound too pansy-fied. read more
Interesting . . .
Youtube “sensation” is now an employee of YJ? Or at least their latest web design.
Oh no, wait — Youtube sensation is now an employee of YJ. But “just kidding”. Or something.
Watch an episode here:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Visit YJ’s website for everything “Inappropriate” and “Yoga”
Originally published Business2 Magazine/September 2002 by Paul Keegan
Yogis Behaving Badly
“Be successful” is the new mantra of the yoga universe, which has become so competitive that trying to crack the big leagues is far more difficult than it was even a few years ago. But how do yogis in our covetous culture separate themselves from the pack without violating asteya, the yama that strictly forbids stealing? For millennia, the intricate techniques of yoga were passed down freely from teacher to student. Today they form a collection of highly marketable intellectual properties — a phenomenon that has only encouraged some rather unenlightened behavior.
Bikram says there has been so much stealing of his “hot yoga” techniques during the last few years that he had to spend $500,000 in January for a lawyer to trademark his sequence of 26 asanas, or yoga poses, as well as his word-for-word monologues describing how to do them. Thus yoga, the franchise, was born. “People were doing illegal things,” Bikram growls. “I had to stop them.”
At Jivamukti in New York City — the downtown studio with 2,000 students per week and a website that lists 51 celebrity clients, from Steve Martin to Monica Lewinsky — owner David Life complains that several former teachers have set up shop nearby, offering the same method he painstakingly developed with co-owner Sharon Gannon during the last 17 years. “They’re not calling themselves Jivamukti, but the staff is almost 100 percent certified through our training program,” Life says, adding that he might consider taking action if they start using the word Jivamukti — which, naturally, the couple has trademarked.
Yoga teachers respond that big schools like Jivamukti and Yoga Works in Los Angeles don’t pay them nearly enough — $25 per class with 10 students, plus $2.50 for each additional student the teacher attracts, is not unusual — despite having revenue of well over $1 million per year. Such schools make the situation worse, they say, by requiring teachers to sign contracts that prohibit them from teaching at other schools within a wide geographical radius. “Most teachers simply want to share it, to give the gift of yoga,” says Mark Stephens, who recently opened the L.A. Yoga Center in Westwood. “Schools shouldn’t have contracts preventing them from doing that.”
Yoga scholars say these clashes are the inevitable result of trying to sell a spiritual experience that shouldn’t be marketed in the first place. But that hasn’t slowed the mad dash to own a slice of divinity: When Stephens started his business, he was amazed to find that nearly every sacred yoga word or phrase had been trademarked. The latest: A New York company selling “perfumes and colognes and essential oils for personal use” has applied for a trademark for “shanti,” the ancient Sanskrit word for peace. read more
Posted by ebeans
It is rare to find yourself in the thick of a yoga blog. The more you search, the more you find interesting blogs that once were. Be sure to check out these blogs while you can still read them “fresh off the press”.
About: “The Seva Challenge is about taking a small group of leaders and setting a significant fundraising goal for each person who comes on the trip. Through the funds raised, we will be able to leave Cambodia knowing we have made a difference…” read more
Who: Seva Challenge participants
About: “Watch out! Twelve Om Factory yogis are about to storm Southeast India under the auspicious guidance of Lord Murugan. In two days we kiss ice storms goodbye and summer saris hello…” read more
Who: Retreat participants (Katie Clancy with FaraMarz, Amanda Wentworth, Kristin Sullivan, Alex*, Deborah Shapiro, Jennifer Seymour, Carey Urban, David Regan, Kara Bingham, Denise Fahmie, and Karen Fuchs)
*Name changed by request.