Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letter written to day and sent to Yoga Journal magazine:

Dearest Editor,

I read the letters in your November 2010 issue regarding the commercialization and 'nude' photos adorning the pages of Yoga Journal with interest. While I believe there's nothing wrong with celebrating the amazing human body, I am a bit saddened to see how Yoga has gone corporate in North America. So much of present day Yoga seems to focus on fashion and often expensive supplements and accouterments, inaccessible to many common practitioners. I feel an ancient and beneficial art form is is being reduced to a trend which has been quickly losing its substance. Further to this, while I understand the majority of the subscriber's demographic is female, as a male Yogi of over a decade (I am also a school teacher and have taught Yoga for a couple of years), I often feel like I've picked up a copy of Cosmo, Vogue or Chatelaine. I still buy the YJ religiously, as the pages still contain a wealth of knowledge, information and aims for good, but, as man, it's making me feel out of place in your readership.

Yoga is a lifestyle, not a fad. Many feel if they purchase the garb, stretch, etc., that they will gain the benefits of a true organic practice. Yoga studios are a dime a dozen these days where I live, and teacher certification is laughable. For example, I did a teaching Yoga for Children course this summer and was appalled that, of the 18 people in this class (me being the only male), four had NEVER DONE YOGA BEFORE! Honestly, how can a studio endorse certifying such individuals?

My solution: by all means, allow for the ads to keep this wonderful mag going strong and to retain its quality, but please consider using people in your photos other than those clad in these upscale fashions from time to time - and make them average folks. Also, while male Yogis adorn your pages often, I'd like you to find more equilibrium in perhaps crafting a few male centered pieces - a column even! Should a Yoga magazine not be all about balance? Right now, it seems that, on the one hand, YJ is perpetuation the non-materialism concepts expressed articles using traditional Eastern texts and teachings, and then contradicting them completely with the ads which push materialistic motives. In fact, these ads tend to be misleading in subliminally suggesting that we, as Yogis, require to consume such wear (many of which are top quality garments for certain) in order to procure an positive and fulfilling practice.

In closing, I will continue to by YJ, because, despite my constructive criticisms, there is a wealth of good information presented in your pages. I hope that you well continue to challenge your direction and feel free to take a few risks and keep the magazine fresh with well-promulgated change.

Om Shanti,

Ed Meers
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The following is an entry that I wrote on my last day of my Yoga certification course for teaching children. It's from my blog (links below) - you may with to use it an article one day - more in the spirit of Hardcore Zen by Brent Warner though. I poke fun at myself and attempt to have fun with it, while also hitting on a few key points I think need to be said in the corporate/sacred battle of Yoga and those fill in the scene. I reckon it would spark a flood of letters to YJ. Let me know if you wish to publish it as and article.....

Yoga Tribalism Examined

OK, first in foremost, I am a crusty old misanthropic codger, prone to making outlandish statements. If you read my blog, you will know this. If you know me, you will believe this because it is truth. I spend most my time on the fringe, placing myself on a pedestal, much like Nietzsche's Zarathustra in my own head, and attack the apathetic status quo of sheep-gened masses that we call society and pop culture. While perhaps outrageous, my goal, more often than not, is to rattle cages and cause people to think. Many folks turn me out as a result of my approach. Other's might find something worthwhile in what I say, and then resume their benign existence. If this were a Harry Potter novel, I most definitely would be Voldemort. So, that's how it is...

Right so! On to my main topic.

I started doing Yoga in 1997, just before it became big. In my first few years, I studied Yoga, and became a convert to the Eastern Philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. From that point I continued to read numerous books on Yoga and other 'spiritual' philosophies, as well as contemporary Western Philosophy. If I were to describe myself, it would be as an over-stuffed academic pacifist with a masochistic approach to physicality balanced with a sense of Anarchism, Existentialism and Eastern balance. I am a product of my experiences which have included being abused as a child, becoming a punk rocker in my teens, military service, extensive travel, half a decade as a Correctional Officer, nearly a decade of being a school teacher, Father and husband. From my resume, it is clear why my mind may yield itself more to the darkness than the light when it comes to views of humanity.

Needless to say, as Yoga has been a large part of my life, I have become largely disfranchised with it's present population and corporate manipulation. Like all Westernised flavour of the months, it's lost it's soul and has been reduced to a very shallow state of itself - but hey, it makes some folks happy, so it's all good, yes? Bollocks!

In essence, Yoga is a thing of simplicity. It is about learning about your body and observing it's limitations, on which we can endeavour to improve. In true Yoga, there is no fluff, no need to sport turbans or to walk around in guise that we are simply pleasant butterflies in a great earthly garden. Yes, Yoga is about finding inner peace, but not the type of peace where we are all floating in an ethereal state of near fundamentalist Christian purity. Nor is Yoga about the latest line from Lululemon, the plethora of cosmetic and miracle life changing trinkets advertised in the some dozen or so Yoga magazines which seem to sell the same body image rubbish as Cosmo and the other vanity rags.

It is sad to see the state of Yoga today. I am presently taking a course on teaching Yoga to children. To be honest, I feel far more qualified to teach it than the instructor. I am one man in a room with 17 women. Some people are taking this class having never taken Yoga before themselves. Seriously! Can you imagine teaching German if you've never spoken it? Yet, each year, hundreds of thousands of Yoga Instructors are certified as teachers. With this, and the corporate franchising of Yoga, we see how the dilution has begotten itself.

So this has caused me to reflect on Yogis of today, and I have grouped them into 4 separate tribes (because tribes are trendy these days). They are as follows (with definitions):

  1. The Lulus: I will begin here as these are the ultimate poseurs of the poses. These are the ones who subscribe to a strict fashion code (largely Lululemonised), get the tattoos with 'om' or whatever on them and read the latest 'secret' or Oprah related texts. They are all about 'getting into themselves' which manifests in some form of perverse vanity and their activism or humanism goes little further than giving the change from their latte or caramel macchiato as a tip to their Starbucks barrista.
  2. The Lost: These are the folks, often suffering from depression or low self esteem, who are willing to believe the latest quick-fix emotional, nutritional or holistic approach on the market recommended by Dr. Phil or whatever other guru is being perpetuated in the media or on the New York Times Bestseller List. The sad thing about the Lost, is the more they look, the more lost they become.
  3. The Lunas: Lunas are similar to the lost, minus the lack of direction. These are the folks who believe that there are angels around, every Rune, Tarot and crystal alters reality and the cosmos. These people often dress as though they are from an Eastern culture and often have a glazed sparkle in their eyes - like you are talking to a doll. Overall, the Lunas are very pleasant an overly nice folks who mean no harm.
  4. The Legits: Legits are those who take all that have know, build on that knowledge and challenge their assumptions. They are those who need not trinkets, amulets and that moments of realisation are more like the passing of wind quietly at a dinner party than a colossal asteroid hitting the earth. They do what feels right, challenge authority, question everything and don't believe that anything is ever black and white. Most often, they don't fit in, and don't mind that they don't. These folks are often full of shit and idealistic at the outset, but, over time, they mellow like a fine Scotch and write blogs like mine.
And these are the four tribes of Yogis. Granted, some folks may be mostly one of the four, but have traces of the others (this coming from a Legit who does not believe that anything is black and white... which is a tad ironic in this context...).

In closing, I will simply close with no ending because I have said what I wanted to say and do not care to carry on with my thoughts any further.


  • At 10:16 a.m. , Blogger Tanja said...

    OMG again you are an amazing writer, who makes me laugh about "those" people AND myself. Thank you again for being opinionated and not making an excuse for it but celebrating it. ha ha ha


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