this week in yoga: the gita, the law & a different kind of yoga boom

Guerilla Yoga protest, DC-style!

Well, the most exciting thing going on this week was the engaging Gita Talk happening over at elephant journal. Ancient wisdom meets Web 2.0 as fearless leader Bob Weisenberg initiated a multi-platform talk on Stephen Mitchell’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. The first blog post on elephant journal introduced the introduction, and racked up 144 comments and over 1000 pageviews. Not only is the quantity of comments impressive, but the depth and honesty that everyone put forward is sensational. The comments range from impressions of the themes and ideas, to uncertainty about the “translation” (which, as Mitchell explains in his intro, isn’t direct but rather filtered through others), to commentary on other versions and translations, to general feelings about the Gita.

It’s not too late to jump into the conversation ~ even if you haven’t read the book. In fact, reading the book isn’t mandatory, as the forum is a wonderful place to discuss the Gita and yoga in general. The talk continues in the upcoming week, with “Why Does the Gita Piss Us Off So Much At First?” featuring chapters 1 and 2.  Follow along on elephant journal, Twitter (#gitatalk) and Facebook.

At the other end of the yoga spectrum: this week finally saw the closure of the tragic “yoga stick” murder, as Natavia Lowery was sentenced to prison for 27 years to life for bludgeoning her real-estate-agent-to-the-stars boss, Lynda Stein, to death in 2007. She used a yoga stick, although nobody is really too sure exactly what that is. The judge who sentenced Lowery to prison had a very yogic take on things, reportedly saying, ”An old and wise adage: The truth will come to light. Murder cannot be hid long.” Yeah, there’s this thing called karma, which will get ya…

The Christian Science Monitor compared the pursuit of oil to the practice of yoga in the Brazilian boomtown of Macaé. “This port was once an insignificant fishing town. Now, as an economic hub, yoga has found a niche,” said the article, which went on to quote Sanjaya Yogi, the founder of the town’s apparent only yoga studio, as saying “I asked an economist where the best place would be to go and grow up, and he said Macaé.” Whoa, is the yoga boom as opportunist as the oil boom?

Fortunately, Sanjaya Yogi set them straight in the comments section: “The oil business extracts the energy that people believe is necessary to live the modern life, fueling wars and the destruction of nature in the process. The people who work in the offshore oil industry spend large periods of their time separated from families and friends, causing at times profound stress… The Nucleo Do Yoga de Macaé is a small effort by my wife, Sumaya, and myself to serve the community of Macaé, rather than to take.”

And score one for yoga: the Washington DC yoga community rallied in a guerilla-style protest of a proposal that would add a 6-8% sales tax on yoga classes and gym memberships. The local media lightheartedly poked fun at their efforts, exclaiming “Those crazy yoga people! For the record, we don’t know what GUERILLA YOGA is, but it sure sounds like a fearsome concept.” Nevertheless, their “crazy” efforts paid off and the proposal fell flat in DC City Council today.  DC yogis do have something to fear, actually, as similar proposals have gone further along the system in Virgina and NY state. In both instances, the yoga communities have fought back with a warrior spirit, just like Arjuna on the battlefield, and with considerable effort overcome the obstacles. That’s what it’s all about, baby.

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yoga: out of control or what?

  1. heyo…. my link isnt working… um, whats a yoga stick?

  2. girlwarrior,

    Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support! Your warm appreciation means a lot to me.

    You are quite right in saying that it’s not too late to join in. In fact, it is NEVER too late to join in. We will only be covering 10-15 pages of verse per week, so it will be very easy to catch up on the reading. The Gita itself is actually quite short.

    Plus the blogs will always remain open and we will continue to respond personally to all comments and questions. And, as you wrote above, the conversations are so rich in general Yoga content that it’s easy to join in even if one hasn’t read the book. I’m glad you pointed that out.

    I have found that it gives me a great deal of pleasure to respond to all the interesting questions and to cook up the next blog. The whole project makes me feel useful, and that’s a good thing, because I like being useful.

    Thanks again for your support.

    Bob Weisenberg

    • my pleasure, bob! i’ve been way too busy this week to participate, but i was delighted when i stopped in at elephant journal and saw all the action. very rich and exciting! i’m going to get into it in a couple weeks, after things in my life settle down a bit.

  3. Loving these updates! Thanks R!

  4. thanks for stating that we don’t have to read the Gita to participate or read the comments… I was a little hesitant to go on over. I might check out online to see if I can find some online versions to follow…
    but the comments were great and it’s really amazing that Bob put so much work into this. 🙂 Yay Community!

    Also- YAY Guerrilla Yoga!! 🙂

    • Hey EcoYogini! You should definitely check it out – I’m really enjoying the Gita discussion – lots of great conversation and nuggets of insight. And I’ve been reminding people as well that you’ll still be able to access the blogs after the primary discussions have slowed – so even if you pick up the book and start reading late, there will be lots left to absorb 🙂 Enjoy!

  5. I’m excited to hear that about the Gita talk too! I would have loved to participate, but I have no time to spare right now. I will definitely check out the conversation.

    Taxing yoga and gym memberships? In a country with an obesity epidemic and stress problems galore? Wow.

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop on this stuff!

  6. I’d ask a yoga guerilla about yoga sticks…

  7. about the yogis who fought the tax on yoga, i really salute them. we are facing something similar in b.c and ontario with the hst tax being applied to all services including yoga classes.

    it isn’t fair because with much, if not most of our tax dollars going to public health care, yoga classes and gym memberships should be subsidized not taxed extra.

    i really like the sign that says “tax the fat, not the mat.” i think with the health costs of obese canadians and americans from fast food, if governments want more revenue, they should collect 50 cents off every $2 burger.

    in spite of this, i have been trying to rally people through facebook and on the phone to fight this because 7% extra tax to yoga classes really doesn’t make sense. but canadians tend to be very apathetic, we should be protesting this in the streets. i salute the dc yogis who got off their butts and off of their mats and protested. i agree, it is a bhagavad gita-esque fight. here’s my original tweet about it: “bc yogis find your inner-arjuna and fight this ridiculous tax on yoga classes and services.”

    there is a sphere for yogic values and politics. let’s always find the still place every day, but to act in the world in line with what is really in our hearts.