First It Was Yobo, Now There is Ratra (Radical Traditional) Yoga

Via on Oct 27, 2009

 

You may have heard of Yobo, the un-Yoga. It was my modest proposal for resolving the debate raging here on Elephant Journal and in the Yoga blogosphere over what is, or isn’t Yoga.

It goes like this:

Let’s require that any practice that doesn’t meet whatever standard we set be called “Yobo” instead of “Yoga”. All Yobo studios and their corporate sponsors would be required to prominently display the following language on all their marketing material:

We practice Yobo here. While Yobo is inspired by certain limited aspects of Yoga, it does not include enough meditation, breathing, spirituality and study of ancient texts to qualify as Yoga.

There would, of course, have to be a certification committee that would set the rules and determine what is Yobo and what is Yoga.

Problem solved! No more inappropriate use of the word “Yoga.”

Then I got to thinking, gee, shouldn’t we ultra-traditionalists have our own hot new name for what we practice? So I came up with the term “Radical Traditional Yoga,” or Ratra Yoga.

The devotee of Ratra Yoga is:

  1. One who thinks everything after the Yoga Sutra (about 2,400 years ago) is an unnecessary modern innovation.
  2. One who reads and rereads the big three ancient Yoga texts, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutra and all the commentaries he/she can find.
  3. One who thinks later Hatha and Tantra practices are filled with as much distracting ritualistic excess as the Vedic rites the original Yogis (including Buddha) were rebelling against in the first place.
  4. One who believes Yoga is not hard work, but rather ecstatic realization of the wonder of the universe.
  5. Believes everyone is already wondrous (“divine”, if you prefer) and Yoga consists of simply realizing that fact, through whatever method works for each individual.
  6. One who therefore embraces all forms of Yoga, even Yobo.
  7. One who does asana (poses), but only in limited form and as much for meditation as exercise.
  8. Who believes the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita represent universal truths that can be found in any religion and any life.
  9. Whose idea of Yoga practice is 1) living life with love and purpose, 2) detaching the ego from results, 3) focusing the mind, and 4) experiencing the wonder of the universe, just as these ancient texts proclaim.

Now that we have Yobo and Ratra Yoga, we can extend the Yoga spectrum in both directions with clarity for all, and embrace everything in between.

What do you think?

About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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53 Responses to “First It Was Yobo, Now There is Ratra (Radical Traditional) Yoga”

  1. I suppose the use of sticky mats falls under Yobo. When i studied with David Swenson he recalled how they used to practice on carpet remnants. Before that, I imagine just grass or dirt. No Mandukas in Ratra!

  2. YogaDawg says:

    Reminds me of the Fundamentalist Yogis piece. Now where did I put my trident…:)

    http://yogadawg.blogspot.com/2009/06/fundamentali

  3. YogaDawg says:

    Good piece Bob, by the way…

  4. Erica Rodefer says:

    I love it, Bob! I don't understand where the name Yobo came from, though.. maybe I missed something?

  5. sama says:

    actually, I'M the one who created the concept that "yoga traditionalists will be the new yoga radicals" — comment #6 in this post: http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/10/is-america

    since I created that new concept, Bob is infringing on my intellectual property….did I ever tell you that I was a legal asst. for 20 years? (seriously, I was, in litigation.)

    ahem. my lawyers will be contacting your lawyer…..;)

  6. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  7. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  8. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  9. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  10. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  11. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  12. Erica, I made up Yobo a few weeks ago as my closing comment to the infamous Rainbeau Mars adidas debate on "It's All Yoga Baby". Rainbeau herself endorsed the idea right there on the spot! http://bit.ly/1Vc3Ht

    linds-sama, I'm so glad you corrected my serious oversight in not crediting you as the original inspiration for Ratra Yoga. Absolutely, it all started with that great discussion on your blog. Thank you. (Is that enough to avoid a lawsuit?). How about if I offer you half of everything I make on the term Ratra Yoga?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  13. sama says:

    actually my cut for inspiration is 70/30. and I have my contract right here.

  14. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  15. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  16. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  17. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  18. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  19. OK, sama. You've got me over a legal barrel, here. 70/30 of all my profits on Ratra Yoga it is. You drive a hard bargain. What about YogaDawg and his Radical Yoga poster series http://bit.fly/1eamBT ?

    Doreen. The Yobo committee will have to rule on whether you are allowed to temporarily use your excess "Yoga" mats http://www.plankdesigns.com/ for Yobo classes until you've been able to convert to Yobo mats.

    Bob

  20. sama says:

    I plan on suing his dawgy ass, too.

  21. [...] was only a matter of time…the ultimate challenge to those Yobo fans who say that Yoga for Weight Loss, Disco Yoga, Bikram, Adidas Yoga with Rainbeau Mars and Yoga [...]

  22. Doreen Hing Doreen Hing says:

    OMFG – after a 2 year of R&D, followed by 18 months of recovery after a factory fire, the Yobo committee folk had better figure something out. This ol' girl is not going to let a typo stop me now… See you in court or on the mat…preferably a Plank Mat, but any old mat will do…

    Thanks Bob for posting the link…

  23. Donna Freeman Donna says:

    You guys are too funny – thanks for making my day.

  24. Does Ratra allow the use of cell phones during asanas? If not, there's going to have to be neo-ratrism.

    Very funny article–thanks.

  25. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  26. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  27. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  28. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  29. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  30. I just realized that since "Yobo" is a total spoof, everyone assumes that "Ratra" is a spoof, too.

    It's true that the idea of really creating a formal "Ratra" movement is a joke.

    But the eleven tenents of Ratra are exactly the way I personally practice Yoga. No joke!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  31. Amy Jewell says:

    This is some good stuff! Bob et al. I have to say that it does seem that the simplified yobo version has taken over to the effect that no one really much even is aware that there IS another form of yoga! Go, Ratra!! (Anyone wanna buy a yobo mat?) Cheers.

  32. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  33. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  34. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  35. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  36. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  37. Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  38. Hi, Megan.

    This was a spoof which completely supports what you just wrote. I wasn't seriously proposing we create either Yobo or Ratra! (In fairness to you, this was more obvious in the context of the debates this article emerged from.)

    The operative words are in my last sentence, "embrace everything in between". I embrace the diversity in Yoga and think it's all good.

    Thanks for writing so I could clarify that.

    Bob

  39. EcoYogini says:

    and now I have just read "In Praise of Jane" and feel a little sheepish.

    yep, knew that you weren't on a hierarchy Bob, pretty sure some people "ratras" out there definitely ARE on the hierarchy idea… which I think was what I was reacting to. :)

  40. EcoYogini. Thanks so much for writing.

    I assure you I make no value judgments whatsoever about people's Yoga practices. The purpose of this article was to make fun of those who do (many of whom are very good cyber-friends of mine, by the way. We like each other anyway!)

    The problem is the writing not your reading. Quite a few people didn't get the joke and think I AM a judgmental purist, when in fact, the opposite is true. It is my responsibility as a writer to make this clear, not yours as a reader to figure it out!

    I borrowed Yobo and Ratra from comments I originally wrote on other blogs in the midst of other discussions, linked to above. In these discussions the spoof and it's meaning were obvious. When I brought them together in this article I failed to give enough thought to making sure the meaning was clear in this new stand-alone context.

    Luckily, people like you are open enough to voice your reactions and that allows me to clarify my intent.

    Thank you for that!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  41. EcoYogini. Thanks so much for writing.

    I assure you I make no value judgments whatsoever about people's Yoga practices. The purpose of this article was to make fun of those who do (many of whom are very good cyber-friends of mine, by the way. We like each other anyway!)

    The problem is the writing not your reading. Quite a few people didn't get the joke and think I AM a judgmental purist, when in fact, the opposite is true. It is my responsibility as a writer to make this clear, not yours as a reader to figure it out!

    I borrowed Yobo and Ratra from comments I originally wrote on other blogs in the midst of other discussions, linked to above. In these discussions the spoof and it's meaning were obvious. When I brought them together in this article I failed to give enough thought to making sure the meaning was clear in this new stand-alone context.

    Luckily, people like you are open enough to voice your reactions and that allows me to clarify my intent.

    Thank you for that!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  42. EcoYogini. Thanks so much for writing.

    I assure you I make no value judgments whatsoever about people's Yoga practices. The purpose of this article was to make fun of those who do (many of whom are very good cyber-friends of mine, by the way. We like each other anyway!)

    The problem is the writing not your reading. Quite a few people didn't get the joke and think I AM a judgmental purist, when in fact, the opposite is true. It is my responsibility as a writer to make this clear, not yours as a reader to figure it out!

    I borrowed Yobo and Ratra from comments I originally wrote on other blogs in the midst of other discussions, linked to above. In these discussions the spoof and it's meaning were obvious. When I brought them together in this article I failed to give enough thought to making sure the meaning was clear in this new stand-alone context.

    Luckily, people like you are open enough to voice your reactions and that allows me to clarify my intent.

    Thank you for that!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  43. EcoYogini says:

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for clarifying, it's what I suspected and actually your article made me confront that sensitive part of myself that needs to "let go" of the reactive :)

    It really is fun article! :)

  44. [...] So are you. If I’ve got something wrong, comment and I’ll make corrections to this elusive, enigmatic and ill-understood question as we go (that’s the wonder of the web—it’s a [...]

  45. [...] love power yoga. Call it yobo or un-yoga, or whatever you like. I love it. It is the style of yoga I first practiced (at the Core [...]

  46. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    Given your excellent analysis, I think that it's long past due for all the Yobo and Ratra yogis to join hands in one big circle and sing "Kum Ba Ya."

  47. Yobo Founder says:

    Was Yobo your idea? really? I would like to hear more about it.

  48. [...] “That other kind of yoga is not even yoga!” Teachers from different yoga camps love to bag on each other, subtly or not. They each believe that theirs is the right kind of yoga. Strangely, the Yoga Alliance website lists 500 different styles of yoga, and it doesn’t rank them in order of “realness.” So, why do some teachers feel they have a right to keep the “my yoga is better” controversy alive? You guessed it: FEAR. They don’t want you skipping their class to go to the one down the street. [...]

  49. Love this Bob: "Believes everyone is already wondrous (“divine”, if you prefer) and Yoga consists of simply realizing that fact, through whatever method works for each individual." Thank you! Perfect! :-)

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