…and yoga just keeps evolving & evolving & evolving

In light of yesterday’s hot debate (can I just say how awesome, thoughtful, smart and respectful you readers are? yay!), I wanted to offer this video of a recent conversation between John Philps, yoga “critic” and author of Yoga Inc, and Ted Grand, teacher/co-founder of Moksha Yoga. The discussion was originally broadcast on CBC radio’s Q in May, and I had something to say about it. Q finally got around to posting video of the “great debate,” so we can go right into the studio with Jian Ghomeshi and his fine guests.

[thanks for posting the vid, YogaCity NYC]

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yoga's constant state of evolution

  1. oh Jian, sometimes you are so cool.
    You’re right- this Q-vid was very timely. 🙂 I went back and read your thoughts on the whole thing last May and agree- Ted Grand was much more well spoken and his arguments well articulated…

    but then, I kinda felt that he agreed with everything John said…. with this attitude that HIS studios were the exception. which is interesting, as Moksha studios are expensive and my experience hasn’t been spiritual AT ALL. A friend of mine had only attended Moksha for 6 months- had never heard of any spirituality during yoga, no ohms, no pranayama, ONLY the physical.

    So there you go, although John was much more ‘traditional’ yoga, I tend to agree with him that these ‘who cares why we get people into yoga’ corporations are essentially missing the entire point of yoga.

    that and I’m not a fan of hot yoga from a safety=health perspective… but those are my personal/professional opinions! lol. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this- WOOT the CBC 🙂

  2. Interesting observations, Eco! It’s definitely hard to “take sides” in this discussion, isn’t it? There’s always another angle or possibility. It’s so complex!

    Ted Grand has a lot of integrity, but I’ve also noticed a lack of spirituality and strong emphasis on the physical in the Moksha studios in Montreal. And what I love about John is that he dares to take on yoga ~ he has the balls to question it and expose it’s darker side. If you’re interested in this stuff, I definitely recommend his book and documentary, Yoga Inc.

    What’s interesting is that I’ve been seeing this “yoga is infinite and resilient – and so we can do what we want with it, and make much money from it” argument turning up a lot lately. The good thing, paradoxically, is that yoga *is* resilient, and those who are into it for the fashion or fitness or whatever will most likely drift away as the fad dies down (if that ever happens, seriously feel like yoga’s been booming for a long time).

    I keep thinking about the Tae Bo craze in the 90s ~ I’m sure there were boxing and aerobics purists out there who felt the forms shouldn’t be mixed. And now it’s 2009 and people are like “Tae what?” It just faded away…

    Okay, maybe that’s a lame example (also, full disclosure, I really liked Tae Bo and miss it). I’ve also been thinking a lot about “new country” and finding parallels with the current yoga industry… I’m sure there’s a blog post in there, somewhere.

  3. This is great. I’d like to see more of these face offs between critics and supporters of yoga. I see so much hooey, hokum, hogwash, hype, and hocus-pocus floating around yoga that debates like this would go a long way to clearing the air. The best line to me, being the satirist, was “There are a lot of thin skinned people in the yoga world.”

    Am looking forward to the Sadie Nardini and Sharon Gannon debate. Thanks for posting this Roseanne.

  4. My pleasure! I agree that these kinds of stimulating debates are healthy for the yoga community. There’s a weird “let’s just all get along, namaste” vibe that can be really insincere.

    I’m way excited about SN vs SG. Bring it on!

  5. This was really interesting, although we have two “debaters” here who essentially agree with each other about almost everything.

    What kind of debate is that? We had a lot more variety of opinion and sharply shaped points of view in our blog discussion here.

    And, as I’m sure you’re aware, girlwarrior, the real “dark side” of Yoga, and the potential for damaging Yoga in a serious way, is on the spiritual side, not the workout side of the spectrum. I’m referring to the abuses by gurus reported in books like “Stripping the Gurus” (www.strippingthegurus.com).

    I assume “Yoga, Inc.” discusses this, too, or it would be highly incomplete, because some of these gurus built substantial financial empires that are much more deserving of the moniker “Yoga, Inc” than anything the workout world has seen so far. (Yogaworks is strictly tiny potatoes in comparison.)

    I’m wondering why it didn’t come up in the discussion. This seems to be the real taboo subject in Yoga.

    Bob Weisenberg

  6. “What kind of debate is this?” Good question, Bob! It is a little disappointing that the debate ended so harmoniously. And you’re right, we do have much sharper opinions and POVs on this blog (and I love it!). Good point about the dark spiritual side of yoga ~ John actually does go into this in his book, providing some interesting dirt on Amrit Desai (infamous for the Kripalu scandal), Osho and SYDA Yoga.

    I imagine that the reason that this didn’t come up in the conversation is because John had been put up against a hatha yogi and businessman who probably didn’t know a lot about the seedy spiritual underbelly of yoga in North America. As well, given that this was broadcast on public radio, most listeners would have been interested in the physical practice.

    • Makes sense, girlwarrior.

      Of course, like you, I know all about Desai from “Yoga and the Quest…”. I do admire the people at Kripalu for being one of the very few groups who have self-corrected their organization in the face of abuses, and created a well-run institution with built-in controls.

      I’m reading all the back issues of Ascent, starting with #1. I’ve already browsed through all the contents, and there’s some really good stuff in there.

      Will the Ascent site remain up indefinitely, so I can confidently recommend it to others on my Yoga Journal blog?

      Bob Weisenberg

      • You’re reading all the back issues of ascent ~ impressive! As far as I know, the website will be up indefinitely. The plan, actually, is to upload full content from the back issues so everything will be archived and available. It’s a big project, so I’m not sure when it will be live.

      • Is what’s there now just the main articles from each issue?

      • Exactly. Though the last 2 or 3 issues have full content.

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