ogden, yoga journal’s inappropriate yoga guy, finally offends someone

Inappropriate? Yes. Inoffensive? No.

Inappropriate? Yes. Inoffensive? No.

Well, it was bound to happen eventually: according to the latest headlines, “upset Hindus criticize Yoga Journal’s yoga-comedy-series as mockery of revered discipline.” Not all Hindus, though – just one particularly influential and vocal Hindu statesman, Rajan Zed, who is speaking out against the Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga web video series launched by Yoga Journal in March 2009.

According to several dodgy and poorly written articles floating around various Indo-American websites, Zed claims:

yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a serious mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with universal-soul (parmatman), and not something to be spoofed at. [prokerala.com]

I gotta say that I really don’t think that Ogden is “spoofing at” the ancient tradition of yoga; I see him as taking the piss out of contemporary North American yoga practitioners, in a good humoured, kinda necessary way. (C’mon, we’ve all been in yoga classes with that creepy dude-in-a-headband trying to impress the ladies with his veganism and then looking down their shirts.) Also, Yoga Journal didn’t create Ogden – his original video was a YouTube hit in 2007. Their Ogden web series seems more like a slightly desperate attempt to increase online readership and relevancy.

This isn’t the first time Rajan Zed has taken on American pop culture. He also tried to incite a worldwide boycott of The Love Guru last year and criticized Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter, suggesting that she change the tagline  from “nourish the inner aspect” to “nourish the outer aspect” (which, you gotta admit, is pretty funny and kinda true – he also said, “The actress needs to grow up and stop writing about mundane topics like ‘Boots by Gucci,’ ‘Banana Pancakes,’ ‘The Hungry Cat’ and ‘Tweezerman’ — in which she talks about taming the unruly eyebrows of men.”)

Watch all 5 episodes of YJ’s Ogden The Inappropriate Yoga Guy web series. And for the sake of nostalgia, check out the original vid below.

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  1. There’s a word for seeing ancient traditions as things not to be spoofed: fundamentalism (which, unfortunately, is as rampant among Hindus in India as Muslims in the Middle East and Christians in the U.S.). Nonetheless, I did take part in a different international boycott of the Love Guru, made up of people who are sick of moronic movies by SNL alums….

    As for Ogden, who I found funny in the one video I’ve seen, what offends me is when I pick up a copy of Yoga Journal and, with the possible exception of an old Indian guy or two in the back pages, he’s the only male yogi in the entire magazine…

    Hmmmm…I seem to be dumping a lot of angst into your comments…must be the fact that it’s 12:48 AM and I’m sweating despite a fan blasting three feet away…nonetheless, it’s a bit ironic in a comment bemoaning the humorlessness of that Rajan Zed dude (who I hope will discover my blog, soon…).

  2. I don’t think it mocks yoga at all. it’s a comment #1, on phony baloney “yogis” and #2, stupid guys.

    And I also think The Love Guru should be boycotted — the movie sucked!

  3. actually- I have to confess that I was more offended by his sexism than the yoga-ancient artform/religion aspect. But then, I know I’m extra sensitive to that sort of stuff, and not so good with sarcastic or edgy comedy meant to challenge people. I just didn’t think it was funny.

    However- my solution is I’ve stopped watching the spoofs and reading the Yoga Journal. 🙂 Problem solved!

    Andrew and I lived in Vernon until a year ago. Vernon was interesting- very clique-y, but I met some really great people there. It was definitely a much different atmosphere than I expected (for some reason us east coasters expect all of BC to be filled with left-ist hippes!! lol), but it was great seeing the beautiful lakes, the different landscapes and to learn more about the Western part of our Country. However, I also learned that BC was definitely NOT for me, especially the 40 degree, always sunny, never rains Okanagan. I missed the fog!!! crazy, I know. 🙂

  4. Those of you who are interested in this controversy should check out the truly robust and wide-ranging discussion at YogaDork:

    http://www.yogadork.com/2009/08/12/yoga-journal-catches-some-flak-from-hindu-scholar-for-inappropriate-yoga-videos/

    Bob W.
    @reweis

  5. Wow. I’m sort of new to the organized yoga community despite having privately practiced yoga for decades. This kind of humorless discussion is exactly why I stayed away. The videos are HYSTERICAL. I can’t believe people don’t get the joke. They’re not criticizing yoga or Hinduism. The videos take the piss out of johnny-come-lately-faddists-parvenus and poseurs. They’re mocking people, not the practice, especially people who hide behind the practice to be icky.

    Lighten up folks. Perhaps you need to spend more time practicing, and less time reading or watching practice.

    May you not have to have your mat next to an Ogden-like creature in your next class.

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