“yoga centered” short films spark mild controversy

Poster for The Yoganator, one of the offending "yoga centered" short films.

Somehow I’ve ended up on Rajan Zed‘s mailing list (the Hindu statesman is infamous for criticizing American cultural representations of Eastern spirituality, including The Love Guru and Ogden: the Inappropriate Yoga Guy). Most of his press releases are benign attacks on Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter, and are fairly entertaining. However, the most recent one, dated Feb 21, is inconclusive and getting syndicated all over the Internet.

Titled “Yoga centered films made in USA & Canada,” the release targets two not-so-recently released short films about yoga. The first, Homeless Yoga, is a Canadian-produced response to the economic downturn with the tagline, “What do you do when you lose everything? YOGA!” The other film, The Yoganator, features a martial arts-ish/self help monologue by an intense yoga teacher, illustrated through dramatic flashbacks.

Something about the two films prompted Zed to release the following statement:

Seeing the increasing popularity in the West, India should launch extensive research into yoga and help promote its authentic version worldwide. According to Patanjali, author of the basic text, the Yoga Sutra, who codified yoga after being founded by Yajanavalkya, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, added.

Whoa, run-sentence ~ another hallmark of Zed’s press releases!

Watch the trailer and short below, and judge for yourself. Inauthentic representations of yoga? And is it India’s responsibility to research yoga and promote an authentic version to the world?

Homeless Yoga, trailer (note: graphic language)

The Yoganator, short film (note: gratuitous violence)

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  1. wow, I couldn’t even get through the last one. Is he serious? As soon as he said ‘we choose stupidity’ I decided to choose shutting off the video… as I was getting dumber every second.

    I get the satire in the first one…. but the yoganator?

    As to your question… I do not think it should be India’s responsibility to ‘police’ how yoga is used in the West. Nothing stays pure, we all know this. By controlling and searching for ultimate purity, we are increasing stagnation. Change brings growth… and since we can’t have it both ways, with the change we need to accept crap like this.

    Those with critical minds will look at these videos and think- ‘that was random’. I don’t see these short films as having the same impact as the billion dollar (and scientifically proven) advert industry with their skinny skinny white models selling insecurity and sex in the name of yoga.

    (sorry, slight rant!).

    Interesting Roseanne! (ps, the yoga student group story is coming up!! )

  2. whoa… “yoganator” guy needs to come the f*** down, if you ask me.
    and I’m going to leave it at that, because I “choose” to not “rub salt in the wound”.

    sheesh. O_o

  3. alexandra: yeah, the yoganator is pretty intense! if henry rollins was a yoga instructor, that would be him, i think.

    ecoyogini: thanks for your astute observations, as usual! i found both of these vids, and the declaration against them, completely random. what concerns me is that it’s getting posted all over the internet, as some kind of “news.” i’m also unclear about the intention behind the yoganator. is it satire? is it a mockery of the self-help leanings of some yoga teachers? is this guy a sincere practitioner? i just don’t get any sense of purpose from it…

  4. Two thoughts:

    A: Self-proclaimed guardians of the discipline rarely have anyone’s best interest in mind beyond their own. (Zed seems to be taking a page from Birkram Choudhury’s marketing and PR handbook…)

    B: The Yoganator is doing yoga while wearing shoes. ‘Nuff said…

    (And Bonus C: All of this seems like another non-story of fake controversy to fill up a space on one of the “news” slots on the Yahoo home page. Maybe the interwebs is tired of being outraged about Aborigine skating costumes…)

  5. it’s funny, i was going to comment on how i couldnt even get into the second minute of the yoganator without feeling like moments of my life were being stolen.. but eco beat me to it 🙂 i guess its a universal feeling of dumbness

  6. Great article We linked to it from our Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/prana

    • thanks, dudes! i love it when you do that. i consider a blog post a success if you fine prana folks post it on your fanpage! woot!

  7. the yoganator is just a bad student-film, smacks of boys with too much time on their hands. why it would even warrant a reaction from zed, i do not know. the internet, it is weird…

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