Body Image, Discontentment and the New Yoga of Self Consciousness

~ THE NEW YOGA OF SELF CONSCIOUSNESS

The funny thing about Yoga Journal’s recent magazine on body image is that it was about body image. The Barbie bendy spandexed cover model cuties have begun to raise the shackles of some yoga practitioners. The initial response was for the infamous yoga toe sox advertisement model to step off her arm balance pedestal and onto the magazine’s cover presenting a thicker, rougher, updated version of herself. Behind the cover she advises the readers on how to deal with body image. I get that she’s a cover girl who assures us that ads are imagery that is not real or sustainable. But I wouldn’t think that a ‘body image’ issue in yoga that does not highlight the absence of culture, color, age or men has done a lofty job of representing the issue of appearance and inclusivity. This issue seems strictly about striking a dagger into the heart of unattainable physical perfection.

yoga-journal-kathryn-budig-oct14

We are stuck teetering on the edge of the pond obsessing over our reflection whether we love it or not. Yoga is a call to consciousness which means being aware. It seems the now popular practice of yoga has become a cattle call to self-consciousness, featuring a population that feels awkward, ill at ease and insecure. Maybe it’s time to dive below the surface.

~Dysmorphia: From Greek, Bad Form

The current Mantra magazine has an article on the “yoga body” by Melanie Klein of “The Yoga and Body Image Coalition”. The author says …”yoga culture from advertisements to magazine covers increasingly cultivate normative expectations of “yoga body” by consistently presenting the same body type- from its lithe lean, toned, able-bodied, and hyper -bendy form to its white unblemished and youthful skin”.

{The following article was a four page photo spread of hyper-bendy, able- bodied unblemished white women demonstrating unattainable poses.}

 

~Should a Yoga Body Look Healthy?

The country is overweight and under toned. We eat crap. We sit too much. National spokesmen for better choices have been railing for years at the puffy population to get its vending machine mentality out of the schools and out of our fast food faces. We are becoming vessels for diabetes, heart attacks and depression.

What does healthy look like?

We idealize the vision of a yoga person because people want to believe that this will be them on yoga: no food issues, no weak choices, no mental anguish; someone who is non-threatening because she/he is so damn happy. We know it’s not literally us but it’s our totem and the symbol of possibility. Artists have idealized the human form since the time man had the wits to look past survival at his/her image. The current yoga population is not wholly apart from the greater population. Perhaps we do need idealized models of yoga of any ages, races, sex and colors. Idealized images are not meant to diminish but to inspire.

 

{I think of the ascetic vegan Jivamukti founder Sharon Gannon as the face of yoga rebellion and radicalism as she presses her agenda for modern yogis to live a certain lifestyle. She is the image of a thin white and bendy. Maybe the tattoos make her seem less a less chaste descendent from the Mayflower but the austerity that creates her image, though not born from the same discipline that makes a super model, shares the discipline of diet that creates a look. Surface can be deceiving}

 

What is radical and what is a nod to mainstream beauty may be confusing. The Melanie Klein is concerned that the homogenization of an image-idealized white female beauty- is antithetical to yoga’s rebellious underpinnings.

 

~Yoga Journal

If yoga was once the practice of the rebellious in this country, the interpreter for that rebellion was Yoga Journal who took on the task of proving that yoga was not the anti-Christ. Maybe that’s why they’ve always had pictures of non-threatening people on the cover. I suppose that people who remember that are the ones that hope that the Journal will raise a banner now to show it is (metaphorically) the anti-Christ or at least anti-establishment by de-Barbifying those cover models.But maybe Yoga Journal is just giving Shape magazine yogis what they already buy in hopes to keep the magazine on the shelves. After all, if yoga has become fashionable, Yoga Journal is a fashion magazine. You have only to look at the ads to see what fashion of yoga is featured there.

How can something be the vehicle of rebellion when it has become a fashion and the fashion of the white middle class? And it’s mainly the fashion of women and women buy the magazine. Fashion sales don’t soar from representing; they soar from the promise of hope and change.

 

~Fashion

 Fa-shun

Noun: a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior. ~Vogue, trend, craze, rage, mania, fad, style, look, tendency, convention, custom, practice, thing

A manner of doing something ~Manner, way, method, mode, style, system, approach

Verb: To make into a particular or required form ~Fashioned construct, build, make manufacture, fabricate, tailor, cast, shape, form, mold, sculpt, forge

Does that sound like yoga?

 

The cover of Yoga Journal is the whipping boy for the content within which is a candy story of empty calories with one dusty shelf designated for Luna bars to appease the small segment of the population interested in something more sustaining. We’ve idealized the yoga image because we’ve idealized the yoga of looking and feeling good. The yoga some of us learned was not about either. It was about self awareness and self regulation. That does not require the image of anyone. Those Hindu gods are terrifying images. There is no chance we will take them for our own. They became married to the yoga culture. They manifest embodied energy. There is no spandex among them. We’ve replaced them with our own cultural icons which is a reflection of what we value. Are we embodying yoga or are we a yoga body?

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The population of exercise yogis discovers unexpected benefits when they come to yoga. If they come in because it’s fashionable, who cares? Is it because it attracts the wrong or a limited crowd? Critics say we want to show that yoga is for everybody and every body even the prevalent concern or at least the concern getting attention, is attractiveness. If the visual body is the main concern there are plenty of examples of people who are not the images at celebrity yoga events or on the cover of magazines.

 

There are average looking people everywhere who represent modern Western yoga. Lilias Folan, Judith Lasater, Beryl Bender Birch, Ana Forrest come quickly to mind; none of them idealized women but the main vision I have is Geeta Iyengar who is Indian, overweight, middle aged, dressed in men’s polo shirts and shorts that look like potato sack diapers and she limps. I won’t list more teachers and haven’t even mentioned the men, many who are more middle aged professors than personal trainers. I’m pointing to the yoga spokesmen of an older generation and a smaller population. Perhaps this population is being discounted, undervalued and overlooked in the complaint that yoga leaves out the image of regular looking people. But just by virtue of how many people do yoga now, plenty of fine role models and students are regular looking folks. Of course now that yoga is so popular we are not one regular looking group anyway. We are curvy, straight, stoned, gay, athletic, alignment, medical, spiritual, breathing, meditating, exercising, , bench pressing, chanting, hippie, corporate folks. What do we look like? Maybe part of the problem is that we are seeking our image in a reflection that is not our own.

 

~Is this a women’s issue or a yoga issue?

We’ve railed for years against the destruction of advertising that silently castigates girls for being too fat or not pretty enough by parading unattainable beauty in front of them in magazines, on billboards and television. It’s a destructive course and it would be healthier for all of us if we didn’t feel obliged to pay so much attention to outward appearances. Where outward appearance separates one from the other, beauty is and historically has been a weapon.

 

A new generation of teachers emerged from two elders. Three attractive women would create the first co-owned professional yoga studio in town. The most ambitious took the mantle of leader. I was there when she assured the others why they would pull the town’s business to their door: “They will come to us like moths to the flame”.

 

Men choose women. Men give women to other men for marriage. In this country, a pretty woman is a prize heifer. She has a shelf life. So women are insecure about their looks for good reason. Will removing good looking images change the game? I wonder.

 

If the issue for women is insecurity about looks maybe a representative of the yoga system shouldn’t be fanning the flames of insecurity. And maybe fashion magazines are not representative of the yoga system though there’s no winning in any forum if looking better is the game.

 

There’s only the insecurity of knowing that we can’t control the illusive nature of other’s opinions. Someone will always look, have a better house, car, husband; whatever. If that rattles our cages, seasickness will prevail.

 

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.” ~ Leonard Cohen

 

I understand insecurity. One of the ways I deal with it is to try to make sense of the bigger picture. Then I choose my battles. I understand that here is a tension of self loathing that is a disease.

 

We’ve idealized the human form from the time our soul entered one. But most of us do not represent the ideal because the ideal is illusive and subjective. We’ve been told that we can get closer to something unknowable if we try and it is always out of reach: We do not feel worthy. We do not trust. We are not comfortable in our own skin. We may not even recognize that skin.

 

There is a hole in the heart; an epidemic of insecurity that encourages us to compare ourselves to others; how they look and what they have. There is a larger issue of class and capital system in our economy which burns by the fuel of desire. That machine depends on our insecurity. Every personal resistance against buying into the status quo is a rebellion. But rebellion is a lonely path when you go it alone. Then you are marginalized. I know something about that.

 

Yoga Journal’s image issue was heralded for hitting the issue of image in yoga head on but it was still the magazine of:

Eight moves to get flexible, 15 poses to wind down at night, 3 food facts, seven poses to find joy and balance, six tips for a pain free practice, the #1 way to feel more focused, six ways to glow from within, 24 natural beauty products with a nod to the readers that they need not be insecure about their looks.

 

Time to dive deeper.

*Note to the reader. I edited out the pages on women and society. I did not feel it had a place here. Or it does.

 

 

 

 

 

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Catharsis In Ashes~We Are Stardust

 “Our abandonment is over

We will think that way no more

We belong here, we belong here

We are blazing at the core”

                                                                ~Kenneth Robinson

Autumnal equinox turned the southern corner; spilled light through my front windows in a way not like yesterday. We are anointed by voluminous blue radiance come to illuminate an internal life of winter.

 

A home that holds light is good fortune in a season of change as change is a leap into darkness.

 

Days before the definitive shift a friend’s poem grew roots in my head:

 

Our abandonment is over

We will think that way no more

We belong here, we belong here

We are blazing at the core

 

He had set it to music and asked me to dance.

 

And a mirage moved through the hot dust of the Nevada desert at Burning Man as I remembered a photo of my son.  It became the backdrop for the song. I couldn’t say why except for the timing of events.

 

Jack at Burning Man

Jack at Burning Man

 

Catharsis, revolution, turning of tides, defying the status quo, beginnings and endings, grief and redemption can’t be ignored. Blame the super moon; the radical shift of planets and tides. Blame big events and small incidents. Blame a storm of happenstance for the hand up out of the muck. Wake up. Wake up. There are more procrastinations than tomorrows can hold. It’s time to move on. Things happening in familiar circles and those circumnavigating the globe are boiling. Can you feel it?

 

In this moment of upheaval and assimilation I, ruled by Virgo who is both my sun and rising sign and governor of the intestines, thrive as separating wheat from the chaff is my forte.

 

The beginning of a new year marked by the Hebrew calendar is a good occasion to scrutinize the tribes that declare us their own~ culture~ nation~ family~ friends~ community: We take stock of our people and ourselves. Our people because they’re a reflection but also the company we keep. And they could be holding us down as comfort often trumps and turns in to conviction whose binding eventually reveals all. The company blows apart.

 

 What if we’ve come from stardust as conjecture has it?

We would be like stars: They come together until the energy that binds at the core

Is so bound it cannot move.

Claustrophobic and toxic with stagnation,

We blow apart from the others like supernovas.

 

Scientists found that neurons that do not make contact with other neurons in the human body shrivel and die.

Philosophers liken that to a human need for contact but what of too much contact:

Does closeness also foster destructive tendencies?

When toxicity breeds from stagnation and stagnation comes in many forms, anger involutes to depression or to volatility for one.

 

Oh it’s easy to come together from disparity. To rally against a foe is the easy work.

How to come together and stay together in closeness?

 

We struggle toward unconditional love and fail and try again.

Relationship is a puzzle that frustrates all but whose heart is frozen.

 

Get to the bottom of the frozen heart and find abandonment. That is my over reach for today. When and how were you abandoned in big but mostly small ways; ways that excused you from humanity’s mores?

 

Someone did not want you, could not hold you as you were, could not hear you, could not suffer the burden of being loving or even responsible in a selfless way. You don’t remember every detail or you do but your actions say there is memory. We are wired to remember the cautionary tales. How ironic that this means of survival stands in the way of our evolution.

 

We are guilty of tiny mistakes natural to new beings navigating unknown waters. Little piles of pebbles become the boulder blocking our door.

 

What of yoga and/or faith can help us here?

In the way memory is coaxed to the surface,

In the way relationships with others who resonate with positive vibrations raise us,

In the way unconditional connection to Mother Nature softens us,

In the disconnected moments that we connect because we learn thoughtfulness,

In the way we are taught that becoming our best means excavating our worst.

 

 I have woven a parachute out of everything broken. ~ William Stafford

 

The Jewish holiday that marks the beginning of the year is called the Day of Atonement.

It is excavation day that follows a week of reflection;

 

To say pardon me,

If I was ignorant,

If I was selfish,

If I was greedy,

If I was insecure,

If I harmed you or myself or our maker in any way

 

And then to hear by virtue of all sins forgiven;

I am worthy

I belong here

I am not abandoned because I have embraced myself

And the magnificence of the universe within me is surprisingly magnified by contact with others doing the same work.

 

In my favorite outfit, sweatshirt and bare feet, the cool breeze on naked legs and hot sun in my hair, I welcome the change which comes whether I choose it or not. We are walking through our own fire.

 

Happy New Year.

May my fire light your way

And yours light mine.

(In the year 5775)

 

Sanchi, golden flower,

your aura sanctifies.

Your love, and your will

are stronger than the tides.

 

A morning star awaits us

as we awake from troubled dreams.

The fool stumbles, the heart redeems.

Ecstasy has opened me, though I still break my vow.

I may still fall prey to fear, but it’s clear to me now—

 

Our abandonment is over.

We will think that way no more.

We belong here, we belong here.

We are blazing at the core

 

Of Mystical Reality,

Highest Vibration,

Crystalline Perception,

Total Liberation,

Superbliss Buddha,

Self Realization,

Elemental Know-How,

Miraculous Transformation.

 

Gate Gate Paragate Parasam Gate Bodhi Svaha

 

Gate Gate Paragate Parasam Gate

 

Our abandonment is over.

We will think that way no more.

We belong here, we belong here.

We are blazing at the core.

                                                         ~Kenneth Robinson

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How Do We Labor: A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

 A noteworthy section (the Eight Limbs) of a major yoga text, The Yoga Sutras, offers specific components of a worthy life. We yoga teachers wear the heck out of it because it’s a tidy template; relatable, easy to apply to asana and by extension behavior off the mat.

 

Herein is advice to keep fire, the manifestation of desire, under one’s feet. One is also advised that contentment is essential. Beyond that, keep your sunny side up and your eyes open is what I’ve extrapolated from the word cleanliness.

Ascetics wrote this body of work which I reinterpret for our times; times of “it’s all good”, which it is not. People like to pretend.

It’s tidy that the author or authors thought to group fire/desire, contentment, positivity with reflection and tied them together with the suggestion of surrendering to a higher power. I mean when you try your damndest and this life still acts like a bag full of cats it’s nice to have that to fall back on.

 

And it was never going to be easy in a world in which everyone’s and everything’s survival depends on eating someone or something else. The map points to a rough road. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

There’s a warning watch list of qualifications, of things not to do in order to make those components of a happy life possible. The list is called Just Don’t Do It. I made that up. They called it Restraints. It’s also known as the first limb of yoga. Number one: Don’t be an ass and you won’t feel guilty. If you don’t feel guilty you’ll have more energy toward positive things, like keeping your sunny side up while you bust your butt in happy endeavors that satisfy you. That’s in the second limb. Keep climbing. You can be an ass by being a mean, stealing, jealous, arrogant hoarder or any of the above. So it’s easy to be an ass at least once a week if not once a day or an hour.

 

In a country where kindness has one leg out the window and common courtesy is standing on the ledge, where the population suffers from epidemic attention deficiency it’s tempting to be an ass as it’s practically become acceptable but it’s also tempting to ‘give it up to God’ as a vacation from effort.

 

I’m reminded of a car I steered clear of because the bumper sticker said that Jesus was driving. Poor Jesus comes back and the best job available for someone of a certain age is to chauffer a guy who’d rather take the back seat. Yes Jesus, my friends and I are having big birthdays. We get it.

 

I saw the show Sunday Morning today. It is Labor Day weekend so there were three separate segments on employees in this country. One pointed out that only three out of ten people like their jobs. A second revealed that if you take your entire tiny handful of vacation days, 15% of your employers will think you’re a slacker and 10% will overlook you for a promotion. No problem, most of you don’t have the money to go on vacation anyway.

 

The third was like baby bear’s bed; just right. A bit of socialism in a company goes a long way. When the employees are treated like worthy individuals of a shared community, productivity goes up and happiness reigns for all.

 

This is the best we can offer in a shared experience of humanity that is an ongoing experiment in survival. What does it take to treat someone like a worthy individual if you are not the boss? What does it take for happiness created to translate to personal happiness?

 

Here’s a radical concept of authenticity: Manners might be the answer. Manners are not superficial but I think quite the opposite. Manners say that I see you beyond your facades and treat you as I would have you treat me. Manners are my restraint; as I don’t honk my horn at you or flip you the bird, as I do not put my cell phone on your dining room table, as I honor the acceptance of your invitation by showing up as planned. Manners mean I have reflected. Manners mean I understand Namaste.

 

There is no template but the vastness of everyday life. In this life where we cut and eat someone or something to stay alive even a silent thank you for that in the presence of ourselves might be the beginning of a labor of love on a planet where:

“We’re all just walking each other home”

                                                                                                                                ~ Ram Dass – author of Be Here Now

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Superman Years: A Book Review

 

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

A toddler wearing a Superman cape pinned to his T-shirt walks ahead of me beside his mother down the lake road. The mother stoops to hear his running commentary. He marches proudly like Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin, master of a universe provided by that mother. I wonder; is he healthy? Will he be happy? For how long will that mother’s heart be unbroken? An unseen observer, I feel an unspoken prayer that they can hold this moment for eternity.

 

I’m reminded of another mother whose son donned Superman’s protective cape as a toddler before anyone consciously realized he’d need all the protection heaven and earth could offer.

ty_at_age_of_diagnosis Linda B. book

Author Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares the experience of raising a child with Type I diabetes in a nakedly honest, deeply personal account titled The Superman Years. It begins with a dream.

 

I have studied dreams – my own and others – in my work in psychology for many years now, so it was not unusual for me to write down and reflect on the dream I had early in April 2000. In it, I took my diaper-clad son to a clinic, where a doctor told us “we” had diabetes. That was the end of the dream.”

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

 

In an equally concise and comprehensive one hundred and thirty- four double spaced pages Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares her ordeal of dealing with a child stricken with Type I diabetes. This is the extended hand of a woman who was sanctified by fear to find faith, unfamiliar strength and renewed purpose.

 

I began the book in the wee hours of dawn expecting it to put me back to sleep but I did not close it once until the last word was read. As I reluctantly turned the last page I realized that the author had somehow written a sweeping history though it involved just a few pivotal years in a family’s life whose drama centered round its youngest member. The book is a revelation of the terror and impossible exhaustion of raising a dangerously vulnerable child and the effect that has on the family. It is also a beacon of hope to any of us who are responsible for someone we love.

 

artwork by Kathryn Adler

artwork by Kathryn Adler

Here is a story of love; of the fragility of the family web, the challenges and victory of marital commitment under stress. She introduces the politics of medicine and educates the reader on the nature and specifics of diabetes. She describes instances of “the places that science cannot explain”; of communication in coma, of physical renewal through imagination and the potential of both waking and sleeping visions in a world apart from modern medicine. She introduces the perception of animals to loved ones. She describes how she found self- compassion and equanimity in crisis through yoga.

 

Isolation, fear, loss of power can become a prison that separates the inmate from light and love and faith. For a parent with an at risk child these are the elements of a living nightmare. In The Superman Years, Buzogany navigates her nightmare with selfless insight and unruffled compassion.

 

The book is divided into six chapters titled: Dreams, Coma, Powerlessness, Sleep Deprivation, Imagination, Seizure and Vision. Within these Buzogany relays intimate accounts of a life as it is unraveling in real time. Buzogany who is a psycho-therapist herself does not leave the reader depressed by a story of sorrow but buoyed up as by her example it is clear; we can help ourselves and we can help our loved ones despite sleep deprivation, spiritual exhaustion and insurmountable odds. Her account is a cool comforting hand on a furrowed brow.

 

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Whether you are looking for support and information as a caregiver or parent or you simply wish to read an engrossing autobiography, I cannot recommend this book enough. The covers are worn from reading and rereading and it has an honored place on the shelf where I keep my favorite books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Precious Life in The Third Act

 

I am not a religious person

I don’t speak of God

But sense the order of things

The smallness or bigness of things

 

In meditation I hear myself say;

I don’t want to contribute to society

It’s a reaction

To the onslaught of opportunities flung in the face daily

Through the electric waves

That scream aimlessly from every wired port

 

Electricity is appealing

Particularly in storms

Last night the storm scared the pants off people cowering in their beds

And burned my friend’s folks house down

I stood naked in the brilliant night

Comfortable in the lightening

A sense that lightening makes me strong

This electricity

 

Not so much the metal messengers when

They carry shock waves of disaster, fear and demand

Lightening may equal disaster and fear as well

So perhaps the relevant word is demand

 

 Through the internet they beg; know this, learn this!

So often it would be better to learn what I have forgotten

Like shopping in my own closet

I think I need a new blouse

But here in the back is one I’ve forgotten

I don’t need new things

I will not bury myself under but

Pull from the treasure of my past

Piling on others things

Isn’t this the definition of gluttony?

One must be discerning to keep exhaustion at bay

 

I do not react to ‘contribute’ in the apparent way

And consider as I hear it

The small ways

In the beauty of the garden

The delicacy of the dinners

Helping students find their way

Placing the flower in the vase

The conversation with a friend

Efforts for those I love

And for those I do not

But who need me none the less

In which one cannot be other than in service

 

Mary Oliver’s question lingers;

What will you do with this one wild and precious life?

This is not the first or even the second act

I now know the curtain will go down

How many years are left in wholeness?

Where wild youth did not care

Or believe in mortality

Now wild stays under the skin

And less inclined to engage beyond;

I will not be bullied into the pen

 

Join this

Fix this

No and maybe

I see ways small and quiet

To offer this one precious life

To both of us

 

What is undone here?

Really, not all that much

I notice things are big and small

Endless urgencies press the swollen gates

I hold my ground in quiet ways

To save this precious life

 

Author’s note: Contribute is the word that came to me but it held more meaning than to help. I’m reworking my website and have been given suggestions on marketing that include a slew of social media sites. And I don’t want to have to contribute so to speak, to that life in order to create mine. And there is the weariness of being inundated daily by requests to sign on or up or give signatures, money etc. and no sooner do I acquiese than there is an additional request. It’s not just the endless information that comes at us but the time spent sifting through it. Where do the days go?

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YOGA PH.D. – A Review

 Critical Thinking is Critical to Spiritual Pursuit

Cover photo Yoga Ph.D.

Carol Horton; doctor of philosophy, social scientist, research consultant and academic is no stranger to critical thinking.

But she was an innocent and cerebral guest in her own body until she brought that body to yoga class intent on adding something new to her fitness regime. What ensued was an enthusiastic quest for uncovering the history, the mystery and the totality of yoga. When an inquisitive scholar scrutinizes a mystery it is bound to be more than a superficial embrace. As superficiality is contradictory to yoga, it does not seem incongruous to me that an intellectual found herself absorbed in every aspect of the enigmatic phenomenon called yoga. However Yoga Ph.D. begins with the premise that this was an unlikely or at least unexpected coupling. As complex a subject as yoga and its effect is, perhaps the irony is not that an academic embraces yoga but that anyone with less than an intellectual interest is willing to pursue it at all.

 

In a mere 150 pages, 8 short chapters and three sections; Historical Reflections, Personal Reflections and Sociological Reflections, the author manages to paint a comprehensive and succinct picture of the history of yoga, offer a well told tale of an accidental pilgrimage into a mysterious practice, and contribute to the notion that there are no longer yoga people but people who do yoga and these people have created a definition of what modern yoga is.

 

I met Carol Horton through her blogging where I was often the commentator responding with apocalyptic and jaded observations; yeah people are weird, so what. But she is the rare bird who is not rattled but buoyed by a challenge.

Her cool demeanor and ability to take on any controversy without vitriol is unusual. It is not surprising that what may appear to be just another yoga book amongst many is not. It is social commentary, history, politics and America in the context of an autobiography that is meticulously documented and informs with remarkable clarity as she organizes her thoughts for the reader’s greatest benefit. Horton plumbs the depths of the subject of yoga with an objective and calm approach while revealing her own journey with a dispassionate tone that will resonate with a wide audience.

 

I read the book as a galley before it went to press. Carol published the compilation 21st Century Yoga first and by the time I’d read and reviewed that I was a bit weary of the yoga discussion in general and took a break from thinking about yoga except where it was me doing it or teaching it. When Ph.D. was later published I set out to read it again for the sake of a review but life got in the way and it sits on a great stack of deliciously anticipated reading by my bed. It has occurred to me that a book reviewed long after it has been read is a brilliant idea. After all, when it comes to a scholastic work (which I consider this to be) it’s not in the reading but the retention that one fully comprehends the meaning of the written word.

 

The take away from Yoga Ph.D. is this: Here is a concise and tidy history of modern yoga. Beyond that is a well told tale of a person who finds another dimension to herself. Finally and perhaps most relevant is that this is a book that opens a discussion of modern yoga and the humanity that embraces it.

Where some embrace the popular notion of the poet Rumi that there is a field beyond right and wrong where we should meet, this author believes that yoga has the potential to, if not level, then even the playing field.

 

 

In the last few decades it is common for what once seemed unlikely candidates to become yoga enthusiasts Where yoga was once a pursuit of the fringe, eccentrics and earnest young rebels it is now the exercise program of choice for countless professionals; CEOs, doctors, lawyers, engineers as well as the playground for people from all walks of life, all manner of profession. Many great and curious minds have been blown by body/mind experiences that expose previously conceived concrete reality as no longer absolute.

 

What makes Horton’s experience singular is that she wrote about it, gave it context, history, and a long view that includes the implications of how society affects and alters the things it claims as its own. A study of modern yoga reveals that who does yoga eventually will define what yoga is. An individual stamps and creates the practice once the practice has left its mark. With Yoga Ph.D., Carol Horton leaves her mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She Moves In Mysterious Ways. It’s All Right.

Or Is It?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

So I do the thing that makes sense

To me

Kiss it

Take a picture, say goodbye and thank you

Cut it up and eat it covered with shiny flax seeds and sprinkled sprouted almonds

What would you do for love?

beautiful pear

 

I used to kiss my knees every time they rose to greet me in a yoga pose

Just a yoga teacher doing what came naturally and I taught them to do the same

I didn’t second guess myself

Some of you remember that

Would you do that for love?

 

I rode a wild horse through the woods that bolted and charged for the stable

Fearless friends raced to save me but that horse threw me hard as it could

I didn’t move for a long time

They thought I was dead

Bounced and bounced and still

I didn’t bother to get checked out

It made sense to me at the time

In hindsight, to you, it may sound foolish

You may be right

Or not

 

 

I took an untamed path down a ski slope and landed on my shoulder

My arm hung suspiciously behind me and refused to move in any way for many days

I didn’t bother anyone about it

Which made sense to me at the time

I was young and wild

I didn’t noticed that shoulder was wrong till a yoga pose brought it to light

But it didn’t really bother me for almost 40 years

Till a foolish yoga teacher brought me down

 

I hold the pose called mountain

Eyes closed I notice I’m not standing on my bones

My muscles are doing the bone’s job and I’m getting exhausted just standing here

I lack the grace that is balance

How long has this been going on?

 

I think of the poses that aren’t in this plane

You know, the cockeyed ones, the twisty ones, the ones that turn part of your pelvis forward and part of it back

I wonder what’s happening to my spine and am I standing on my bones or are my muscles being used badly

What would you do?

 

I want to live a fearless life, like you.

I won’t know the consequences till I make the action

Your body is not mine

You may suggest something to me but you don’t know for sure

I may suggest something to you in your wild life

But you may not listen

Here in zero gravity we are trying to hold on and we are hoping to let go and we never know for certain what will happen before we jump

 

You are a mysterious person, doing mysterious things

Like motherhood

Every child different and you don’t know how to be but there’s an order to things

You do what you think best so they don’t go bad

You are trying to affect energy you’ve never seen before

It moves in mysterious ways

You will become energy you have never been before

It moves you in mysterious ways

 

We are all kin and sometimes I am the mother and sometimes the child

In all ways the student and mostly the teacher

But no matter

Mystery is when you don’t know the outcome

What would you do?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

What would you do for love?

rob lindsay photo, roblindsaypictures.comP.S. When my husband Rob Lindsay takes a picture of something he loves, he turns it into art. :)

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