Yoga is all over the news with its lurid sexiness. The New York Times writers are submitting their brains out with articles like this one about sexiness, this one about competition and one of their very own hotshot journalists just published 'The Science of Yoga'. What is going on in the world of yoga? Well, none of this comes as any surprise.
Hot Yoga and Roller Derby
This past Saturday I reunited with a bunch of people including my India traveling buddy. He and I are delighted to exchange weird inside jokes that no one wants to or can understand. In the spirit of weird USA re-entry we all head to the DC Armory to watch roller derby. The first person I see is a woman with a question mark on her helmet. She’s the information booth-on-wheels. I accost her immediately and force her into a roller-tree.
Now I’m on the prowl for food. Nothing edible for miles. Except beer flavored marshmallows? And I thought India’s dung and trash heaps were disgusting. Oh, and crap beer on the menu, too. Where do I sign? We settle into our seats and – no kidding – the big screen advertises Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill. My India traveling buddy chortles, “Did you see that?”
“A whole new brand of awesome” I reply.
Whoever says Americans have bastardized yoga has no sense of humor.
As if roller derby and yoga aren’t weird enough, there’s a new yoga book written by NYT Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and long time yoga practitioner William Broad. It’s filled with yoga weirdness. With a catchy title: The Science of Yoga. His research produced a racy history of yoga pointing to sex rituals, scams, and – no kidding - live burials among many other circus-like feats. (Remember ?) If this weird stuff constitutes the roots of yoga, then is it really surprising that yoga grew into a roller-tree?
Broad references many of the codified yoga texts and explains that The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali is but one of many. Something I knew but really experienced while in India. The “authors” of yoga display a tension of opposites. Some feature the sexy parts and others like ole’ Patañjali emphasizing (ahem) morality. India was, at times, ashamed of its freaky contortionists. And guess which text our claim-to-be-secular-yet-actually-have-heavy-Puritan-roots practitioners choose as our Yoga Bible. Did I give away the answer?
Yoga In The Raw
The good news is the yoga world has its own e-zine to keep it real. elephantjournal.com didn’t need Broad’s research to “get sexy”. Waylon Lewis and his e-tribe of bloggers have little-to-no filter when discussing yoga and its many facets, resulting in an awesome forum for yoga reality check.
But it was nice of the mainstream NYT to cast its yoga Pulitzer into the Sea of Yoga Reality. And very cool of Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill to sponsor roller derby in DC. Broad, Lewis and Bikram all offering a taste of yoga reality make for a beautiful rainbow. Just read. And pay attention to it.