NY Times fans sexual flames, not Yoga…well, not my version anyway

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Another scintillating press piece on yoga by a guy trying hard to sell a book about “the dangers of yoga” (shocking!)  You can read it here.  After 13 years of practice and 3 years of teaching, I can assure you that I’ve never been confused about the expansive spiritual practice compared to the rather earthly and basic inclinations of sexuality. As usual, Mr. Broad is distorting literature and facts to present a steamy article on Tantra, Sex and Yoga.
Truth is: Pervs are everywhere; yoga studios, universities, chuches, Capitol Hill, etc….seek the perviness and ye shall find it!
For me, yoga is a life long practice to see past the struggles and suffering that we all experience and to find a quiet, still, calm space where I can recognize my connection and relationship (empathy) to other humans. It is an humble attempt to dissolve divisive labels and to take personal responsibility for my own actions and subsequent results while recognizing the empowerment of finding internal peace, love, happiness (and then sharing those lovely feelings with the rest of the world without expectation). I get it right once in a while but I fall down at it often. It is a practice; it is far removed from the creepy, cultish, soap opera-inspired scenarios described in this article.
Yoga is a term. 4 letters, 2 syllables, and about as abstract and generic as one can get. It can mean just about anything I suppose. To me, it is just a pleasant word to describe a pleasant practice. I’m grateful I found it. I learn often from the practice (which is rarely a physical series of postures). My own yoga is meditation and reflection. It is the training that reminds me to stop every once in a while and observe the present moment happening around me. For some, it is strictly asana (physical practice), for some others it seems it is a justification of orgies…this does not lessen the profundity of my own practice on myself and others in my life.
Truthfully, my only issue with this piece of “journalism” is that it might turn off a potential practitioner before they get to discover the many beautiful aspects of a sincere yoga practice due to this writer’s focus on the unconventional & obscure forms of a multi-faceted and ancient practice. Sex is basic, human and far from the supreme experience. It is, however, a great hook for a piece of writing or a news story.
I practice yoga to connect to my source which is far removed from my body (and sex).  My students are extraordinary people who seem genuinely interested in asking the biggest questions about who we are in our true nature and why we are here. They show up on their mats to tune into their breath, quiet their minds and prepare their bodies for prolonged meditation. The authentic and vulnerable approach they take to their practice is inspirational. I am very grateful and thankful they found their way to a class without having to read a misleading article such as this one.
Yoga (as I know it) is a gift and I am sincerely sorry for anyone who set out to connect to their highest form and ended up being preyed upon by a person using the word/term “yoga” to cause harm. I encourage anyone who read this provocative NY Times article to give yoga a try in spite of this post. It is simple, really. Sit, breathe, reign your thoughts into the present moment and observe the beauty around you without being stuck in the past or tugged toward the future. Asana is negligible really, a small part of the practice…

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One Response to NY Times fans sexual flames, not Yoga…well, not my version anyway

  1. Michael says:

    Well Jess, that was an interesting article. I understand your response, and I do also believe that the article was exaggerated, misleading, and misrepresented of what yoga has become in the west generally, and what exists right now in most yoga studios in the United States. However, if the origins of yoga are correct according to this article…that is definitely something I never knew and many students of yoga will find surprising. It does put into question the spiritual aspects of yoga that you speak of here in your response (like trying to find a higher self). But rather than putting people off, it might (pardon the pun) turn them on to yoga even more. I’m not stating this to be right or wrong…only observing that sexuality is an undeniable part of Yoga (particularly when you have free mixing of young members of the opposite sex working out in a confined space – not to mention the practices where the heat is turned up or lights are dimmed). And this is happening in a culture and society where sex and sexuality are already open and becoming more open (you mentioned soap operas, and on top of that, the current generation is immersed in pornography and perversions of innumerable types). So don’t be surprised if yoga studios start to cater and advertise more towards the sexuality of yoga and list the sexual benefits alongside all the health benefits. This will certainly make it less surprising when news of hatha’s actual origins comes to light. If not in our generation, then think about the next generation or the one after that. Will yoga practice in the west, in parallel with the state of sexuality here, start to move in the direction of its tantric roots?