Blind Faith and Anusara: Ain’t Nuthin’ Wrong with Yoga. It’s User Error

Whenever I think that the computer is trying to fuck me up and kill my time my husband assures me that it is user error. The computer is intuitive. I am not using it correctly. Maybe I just shouldn’t use it because we are not aligned in this timeline, this space continuum, this energetic bubble. But everyone uses a computer; I need to get on board. What if I am left behind alone in a vacuum of stupid?

Now, you thought of doing yoga because everyone’s doing yoga and it’s the new black for Chrissakes but look at all the press about yoga that indicates that yoga is full of douche bags who would probably follow Charles Manson if he had a harmonium and yoga is full of sex fetishists and holy rollers and it will kill your body and it might cost you your savings. If you don’t do yoga you will be left behind. Do yoga and you will possibly become one of the douche bags even if you are dying to look hot in yoga clothes, even though you are looking for an excuse to brand yourself with that sexy tattoo like your friend has.

Yoga is a set of beliefs that come with a toolbox.  How you use it is subjective.

There are different sets of directions depending on what company you buy it from. There are different architects who will direct you on how to build your house. So you might have directions from one of Krishnamacharya’s students who will teach you Iyengar, Astanga or Viniyoga and you might have directions from a Sikh leader and you might have directions from Sivananda’s crowd and so on. So your yoga will look different even from the same set of beliefs and the same tools.

Of course you may choose to hammer with your screw driver and you may use your screwdriver as a can opener and you may use the nails as scrapers. Or you may be that creative kid who made Legos without following directions at all.

And maybe you made a summer camp bunkhouse and you invited the color squad in but you also got the creepy counselor sneaking in at night.

And now you don’t like what you built and you don’t like your life in it. But your friend has one and so you bought it too and so (if your friend jumped off a cliff……)

But what you built doesn’t change Yoga.

She’s hiding behind the door giggling at this latest dust storm. She has a carving of three monkeys on her desk depicting ‘hear no evil see no evil do no evil’ that was a gift from her cousin Buddha but she knows that’s not the way. She’s sitting up there on your dashboard next to plastic Jesus reading church signs, looking at yoga studios. She knows that all eyes are turned to one bloviated fallen yoga folk hero but the story just begins there. She knows that overshadowed old school teachers cloaked in the white of their Eastern sisters have sent their flying monkeys forth to stir the wind and set things right. Some have been sacrificed for the cause but what the heck, it’s in Yoga’s name; or is it? She knows that where there’s smoke there’s fire but small fires burn unnoticed.

Yoga doesn’t care, doesn’t need your opinion, and doesn’t die one single death because someone misunderstood her.

She is a system, not a pep rally, she is a philosophy, not dogma, and she is a tool, a thought, a guide, a memory. Numbers don’t impress her. She does not exist for the poll takers. Half a million born again in the name of one architect or another is just a nag champa smokescreen.

Someone once told me that Judaism was not for kids. It’s too complicated. They get the allegories but can’t understand the depth. And yoga is the same way. You can make it mommy and me playtime, you can turn it into summer camp, you can sing about it, tell stories, memorize her language but you don’t get her just because you studied her in school.

Not everyone needs the same set of beliefs though everyone has to believe in something. We have the same rules cause that’s the thing about rules; they have to apply to everyone but they may not be chiseled on the same tablet. Yoga may not be the practice that suits your lifestyle but if you try it and it doesn’t work, try a different direction or forget it but don’t blame the yoga. It’s user error.

I’ve waded through an army of yoga teachers over thirty years never stopping to set up camp. The idea was to learn, not to pitch a tent. I don’t understand the student who complains about the teacher, the teachings, and the trappings. Assimilate what they have to teach you and move on for God’s sake. When did yoga become the place for people to get stupid? Can’t we do that in enough other places? I did not stay for one second longer or engage in anything but learning with teachers who perfumed the air with arrogance or irony. Many famous teachers are self deceptive power trippers and who cares. Come for the education. They studied where you did not. Then get out and use what you know to add to your practice or share with others. Anything else is something else. I wouldn’t pay one minute of attention to a teacher who told me what I could or could not think or do. Why would you?

When yoga goes wrong it’s a good indication that people are thinking wrong.

We have enough of that already. Yoga used to be a method to go against that grain. What if we get on board yoga so we won’t be left alone in a cloud of stupid and we end up in a cloud of stupid’s dysfunctional family? Seems like a lot of sorrow to me.

cross-posted to Elephant Journal

18 Comments

Filed under yoga

18 responses to “Blind Faith and Anusara: Ain’t Nuthin’ Wrong with Yoga. It’s User Error

  1. I’m venting but I’m old enough to wear purple and go out in my bathrobe: so I’m entitled. Also, I took the path less traveled and though I gave up fame and fortune when I didn’t even realize it, I don’t have to wonder if I’m a poser. That’s worth alot.

  2. linda buzogany

    How timely and affirming as I sit at this yoga crossroads. Thanks Hil.

  3. Funny, sharp, and heartfelt. Enjoyed it, as usual.

  4. Doug Keller

    Awesome.

  5. karen carmack

    I have always followed this truth from my yoga teacher and of course Maynard’s from ” TOOL” songs.. “Open Your Third Eye” and Think for yourself…. I love this whole line..
    Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.

    To me this is what yoga is about… many many times throughout my level 2 training in Kundalini yoga I have found my most profound moments of truth and deep forgiveness while being in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic confused vulnerability… The poses, the breathing the profound mantras are there as a path… the rest is up to me to discover the gems in the shadows of my wholeness dust them off and shine myself back up… for there is always light in the darkness…..as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink it…

    Karen s Carmack

    • Karen thank you so much for adding to this discussion with a personal experience of yourself in yoga. I agree that yoga is much about learning to deal with fear. I agree that yoga can be of tremendous benefit in finding our strengths through awareness and through acceptance. And I am sure that the fastest path away from that is give ourselves over to another human who is also on a path but who seeks power over others as a stepping stone. So often one loses footing on that stone which wasn’t secure and lands face down in the water.

  6. Found this post and your blog thanks to Doug Keller; totally fantastic. Thank you for sharing! :-D

  7. “When did yoga become a place for people to get stupid?” Man. that’s a good question. Kind of the micro is like the macro – when did the whole damn culture become a place to get stupid. It’s not hard to imagine a near future where there’s yoga pop snowballing along into some ego-driven poser practice on the one hand while on the other there are mom and pop teachers still around living the practice and trying to get themselves and their students free.

    Our hungry ghost Consume isn’t going away. And I don’t want to give up on the lulus so how do they get yoked in? How do we reach down into their John Galt stretchy pants and get them to listen while the teacher whispers – neti, neti, not this, not this.

    • I say give up on the Lulus. It’s O.K.. They have their own path. It has nothing to do with yoga. Ignore them unless you have commentary that illuminates but for that, those reading are likely already luminous!

      The micro becomes the macro because it is popular and man slowly evolves but so slowly that there is much distraction toward the stupid and awful. We should attend to it and talk about it because that’s fuel for thinking.

      I get worked up when I notice that the biggest noise coming from the clueless, fanning the fires of ridiculousness. If that’s the biggest noise, I feel beholden to throw down.

      Glad to have you here weighing in and throwing your own down too.

  8. I don’t know you but suspect that if you are even half as skilled at teaching yoga as you are at writing then you must truly be a force of nature. I appreciate that, where most everyone else wants to get all la-la broom skirts and incense, you are not afraid to use words like fuck, stupid and douche bag in the description of yoga while not insulting it at all. You are one of only a few whom I have heard say that a thing (any given truth) is not affected by anyone’s opinion or misconception of it. The laws of the universe do not change because we misunderstand them.
    Thank you for yet another great post.

    • I’ll tell you one thing; I sure do love to think I’m a force of nature. :) Nature is all of us, is everything, is “the force be with you”. I’ll hold that close next time I feel like caving or crawling under the sofa or well, you get it. I can see that you would. Thanks for being here. Glad to know another rebel yogi, cause that’s all it is. That’s how I got that name – it was just thinking for myself. And that’s freedom. That’s fun. And no one gets hurt. And yes, it keeps the teaching from getting stale although it comes and goes in waves of inspiration and stagnation. All the best to you.

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