Monday, October 20, 2008

I subscribe to Yoga Journal, Self, Lucky, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, and Cooks Illustrated.

I also subscribe to a bunch of poetry and literary magazines, but those are too many to list.

I recently an article in Self called "Keeping Up with the Yogis." Yes, I read and subscribe to Self. Anyway, the article was about snarkiness and snobbery in yoga communities. The article made me think about the anger or sadness many of us feel when we have an especially aggravating experience with other poets an artists. The world of art is supposed to, somehow, be better than the rest of the world. It isn't of course. I mean it is, but not because the people are nicer or more reasonable or funnier or even more intelligent.

It's the same with yoga communities. Yogis can be competitive and unkind, even though they're not supposed to be. I remember when I worked at the desk of the yoga studio, there was a man who would always tell me what time he'd gotten up to meditate. I didn't care, wasn't impressed (was he flirting with me? I don't know). I found it annoying when he said things like, "You know, it takes a lot of spiritual discipline to get up at 3:00." No doubt, but shut up about it, please.

There's also a kind of competition to see who can be the most calm and happy. My external hard drive crashed right after mercury went into retrograde (in the studio where I practice, we do talk about things like mercury in retrograde). A few days after my hard drive crashed, I went to my usual Wednesday night class. The teacher was talking about how to remain calm when everything around is not. I was able to proudly announce that my hard drive had crashed! Yes, my hard drive had crashed, but how calm I appeared while saying it! I could have said it while doing an open-floor handstand! How wonderful that the Universe was testing me in this way and giving me the chance to grow! Even if I believe that--and I'm not saying I don't or do--I despise the snarky language of yoga pop religion. You know, this kind of stuff:

I've been really fortunate, I think, with my teachers and studios. My first yoga teacher was Jeanne Gaudette, a neuro-muscular therapist and yoga teacher who had a small studio in Blue Hill, Maine (I think she now is a teacher at the Downeast School of Massage). I have no idea what kind of yoga Jeanne taught but I remember basic standing sequences that are still familiar to me, and a lot of restorative poses. I also remember that she did bodywork for both me and my mother at a very discounted rate. She was kind, funny, and unpretentious.

After college, I started practicing with Margaret Townsend. Again, I think I was amazingly lucky. Margaret is a dancer who teaches Ashtanga yoga, but her background is in Integral, Iyengar, Anusara, and Ashtanga--so I got the benefit of learning about how to connect breath and movement, learned the logic behind sequencing, and also learned a lot about alignment and anatomy. She's a kind but demanding teacher with a sense of humor. And unpretentious. I would never have started practicing yoga seriously if I hadn't been lucky enough to randomly go to one of her classes.

I did go to one studio in Washington, DC that was really weird. The owner of the studio wouldn't tell me the names of the teachers, and had no information about their certifications. He also grabbed my butt during an adjustment--the first and only time that anything like that has ever happened to me in a yoga class. I never went back. Good lord, what a creep!

The studio here in Carlsbad where I practice is, frankly, pretty great. Like all communities, it has it's moments (see above). People are, in general, friendly and unpretentious. They admit when they feel tired. The teachers are all diverse and well-qualified. Their bios are posted on the website. They answer questions, they don't make adjustments unless you want them, they're attentive and responsive. I hate having a hamstring injury (it's better, but still not completely), but I've really been grateful towards my studio these past few months. I'm benefiting from my teachers' knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology, and yoga. My hamstring is getting better, and I'm learning how to make sure that doesn't happen again. A doctor would have just told me to stop practicing.

And now I'm all energetic and optimistic. Sorry...


phishcake5 said...

One expects those sorts of shenanigans in say fashion or sports or whatever. It’s a bit unsettling to find it places like the arts and such. Seems to me that this misplaced competitiveness has its roots in the “scarcity mentality.” If you are praised, or given something ect that somehow diminishes what’s left for me. It sounds so simple and false on the surface that everybody should be able to avoid it like plague. But the little bugger can creep in in very subtle ways. Well, that’s my two cents worth. I’m glad you wrote what you did.

Sorry you had to have something dear to you tainted by that perv.

K. Lorraine Graham said...


Thanks for your comment. Well, I expect stupidity everywhere--as my post probably made it clear, I think misplaced competitiveness (which is totally different from healthy, fun competitiveness) sucks. But I don't expect yogis or artists or writers to be immune to it. So, nothing's been tainted, per se. But I reserve the right to rant, anyway!