Traditional Spiritual Lineage is not right for Me because I’m Female.

Via on May 23, 2010

Brooks Hall, Yogic Muse

Just as my female body contains a metaphor for creating new life, so also does my existence in the realm of spiritual pursuits require a creative act.

A benefit of yoga in the marketplace is that there are plenty of women leading the way; we are used to seeing images of beautiful women in advertisements so there is an ongoing potential for commercial success for svelte females in yoga.

But I recoil in shame when I consider what is coming across to consumers: perhaps that yoga cultivates commercially acceptable beauty, or that yoga is for physical fitness. Could it be that yoga is here to help us get laid? Come on… When commercial yoga panders to our insecurities, just like any other product for sale, doesn’t that cheapen the potential? Or doesn’t that cheapen our estimation of what we, as yoga teachers or yoga businesses offer?

As I read and study about traditional yoga I find myself filtering and editing as I read to try to include myself in texts that were written for male seekers. And I’ve done a pretty good job, having pushed through countless hours of reading about men in yoga. And I love men in yoga… But when it comes to conceptualizing a vision of my yoga path, the words that were intended for male seekers from earlier generations do not always hit home for me as a female yogi practicing and living in today’s world.

And I’ve heard that there are a handful of obscure examples of traditional yoga that honor women. But, I really haven’t seen any that I can identify with.

We don’t even have a tradition here in the States, what we have is a marketplace, and what this requires of us as consumers is personal responsibility. Just like it’s time for us to take responsibility for the oil we use, it’s also time for us to take responsibility for the quality of our hearts and minds.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I struggle with being a female yogi who is not always sure where she really fits in. Maybe I should try to be thin and beautiful and perfect. Maybe you should buy into my yoga because you love my body.

This is what bothers me.

Yoga is about a union between consciousness and form, or the “inner” and “outer” worlds. If popular yoga is too focused on physical feminine beauty, are we ever going to break through to an authentic experience of spiritual depth? Are we ever going to pursue beyond our obsession with physical form and youthful beauty? Right now our “yoga” in most places seems to be right in line with commercial norms.

Yoga tradition intersects with the modern marketplace. And I think that we enter fantasyland when we try to ignore that. Even when someone has learned from a traditional source, what a teacher brings to his or her classes is what they know. It is always their account of that tradition or lineage, so teachers are actually creating as they are teaching.

But, our yoga does inspire questions such as mine, and perhaps that’s enough for now. And maybe yoga has arrived in the marketplace at this time to remind us that we are more than consumers. We are human beings with hearts and spirituality, and we can be responsible for ensuring that our world can remain inhabitable and joyful, as well as profitable.

*simul-posted at Yogic Muse*

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About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.

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61 Responses to “Traditional Spiritual Lineage is not right for Me because I’m Female.”

  1. Good questions all, Brooks.

    I don't have any pat answers, but I can tell you how I approach these issues.

    I believe that spiritual truths are spiritual truths, regardless of the age and culture they come from. So the only real solution to gender bias in the Gita is to just ignore it. It can't be justified or rationalized. It just needs to be ignored in order to get at the deeper meaning of the text, which, in any case, soundly contradicts bias of any sort anyway!

    As you probably know, our Gita Talk translator, Stephen Mitchell wrote about this problem in his introduction on p. 34-5

    I hope that women who read these pages will forgive this particular limitation of the Gita's consciousness and realize that, with its spirit if not always with its words, it is pointing all of us to the essential truth.

    As for the commercialization of Yoga and the "lineage system", well, my solution to that is to go directly back to the big three ancient Yoga texts–The Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the Yoga Sutra. I skip the middlemen altogether. With a little bit of commentary these texts speak directly to my heart and soul.

    Everthing that's important to me about Yoga is there except asana, which is best learned from teachers and from modern masterpieces like Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat.

    Isn't it exciting to see hundred of people reading and discussing the original Yoga text and applying it to their lives at Gita Talk ?

    As you know, I'm a Yoga universalist. I embrace Yoga in all its forms for their own sake and because they draw people like me into the more spiritual aspects of Yoga. (I never would have gotten into Yoga at all if it hadn't been offered at my tennis club for flexibility training!)

    But while I still do asana every day, my personal practice centers more and more around applying the ancient Yoga texts, as they speak directly to me, to my everyday life and consciousness. That's the way I deal with all the noise in the vibrant Yoga world of today.

    Thanks again for a great blog.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal.com

  2. Linda-Sama says:

    Brooks, thanks for the link love….I hope you went back and read my comment on your interpretation of the word "cult."

    as for this link http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/05/buddhism-b… as a long time practicing Buddhist and a devotee of Kali (I don't believe I have to pick one or the other and I've written about that in my blog), I believe the sexism that the author finds in religions says more about the person who wrote the ancient text than the religion itself. Frankly, I don't buy into the "I'm a woman so I don't belong" mentality. Strong women have always made their own way in the world and said F U to the prevailing paradigms. I've always gone my own way even when I was half my age. I've listened to my gut, my heart, my intuition. if it wasn't the cultural norm at the time, so be it. of course, I grew up in the '60s when people were questioning many things, and believe me, there was lots of sexism in those so-called "enlightened" circles of hippies….a woman either folded or made her own way.

    and as for those texts, there is a saying in India: dharma teachings are like a bowl of rice; you pick out the dirt and leave the rest to nourish you.

    as for "marketplace yoga" in the west, yoga is a commodity just like anything else even though we like to believe it's not. it is advertised the same way everything else is advertised in this culture — look at the camel toe ad for lululemon. "get Jennifer Aniston abs with yoga!"; "get a yoga butt in 3 moves and 20 minutes." "pandering to our insecurities" is Advertising 101, I don't care if it's a car or yoga.

    Why are we still shocked or upset with the way yoga is portrayed in America? I am the first to admit that I have written plenty about "yoga in America" in my blog, but to be honest, I'm past it. Now I just think it's hilarious. I do my own practice and it sure ain't asana based. The only ads that I think are realistic are the ads for Kripalu — yogis of all ages, sizes, and colors.

    I do not want to be an aging yogini/yoga teacher in this culture. not when this western yoga culture sees "good yoga" as: being young, skinny, and blonde, yoga on roller blades, acrobatic yoga, yoga with weights, ad infinitum. not when this culture sees people over 50 as just being old. not when this culture does not see people over 50 as being spiritual elders or wisdom elders.

    I heard Lama Surya Das say once that this culture no longer has spiritual elders — now we have celebrities.

    • Hi, Linda. Thanks for all those wise thoughts.

      For all readers in the Chicago area, my wife Jane and I have signed up for Linda's Workshop Yin/Yang Yoga: Stretching Into Stillness on Saturday, June 26th.

      I'm hoping some of our other cyber friends will join us so we can actually meet in person. See the link above for details.

      Bob Weisenberg

    • dharma teachings are like a bowl of rice; you pick out the dirt and leave the rest to nourish you.

      That is wonderful! I love it and thanks for mentioning my post. I don't believe that the religion is sexism (although there is definitely a cultural artifact of sexism in many ancient writings) and I believe that they can be trimmed completely out. But I do see plenty of sexism in Organized Religion and it doesn't take too much to pick it out. I am very proud to be a Buddhist when I see people like Ajahm Brahm and the 17th Karmapa adressing these cultural artifects for what they are … uncompassionate and not a necessary part of Buddhism.

      I wish I could comment more on the yoga aspect of all this but I appreciate that the author was willing to state that the texts are slated towards a male POV.

      Oh and Linda, the fact that you broaden your practice and choose to blur rather than define deliniations makes me so proud!

      Cheers,
      John http://www.zendirtzendust.com

    • Brooks Hall Brooks Hall says:

      Linda-Sama: I know plenty of people over 50 who are SO not old! I get what you mean about the rollerblade yoga and such… But I want to say: be the change that you wish to see! And I think you are.

  3. Linda-Sama says:

    "I know plenty of people over 50 who are SO not old!" believe me….I was not putting myself in that category…..;) i.e., "old"….

  4. swati jr* says:

    good, intelligent banter here on elie j*…..love it!

  5. ARCreated says:

    When I teach I love to point out that you don't need a mat or a single asana to practice "yoga", my motorcylce license plate reads "myom"…and for those that want more than a cute yoga but they get it, it is my belief that people can practice "yoga" without ever reading patanjali, without ever knowing the word ahimsa and surely without doing a downward dog…are they helpful sure – but just like a human can be a "christian" a good and wonderful person and find god without ever reading the bible, we can embody yoga without ever buying into specific tenets. Someone who is balanced, aware, gentle, kind, present and connected to source is YOGIC whether they know krishna or not… rock on with YOUR yoga share your love and knowledge and let people discover their path!
    Most importantly all yogis have to stop competing right now…seriously it is anti yoga…your yoga is not better than my yoga…it's nuts…I can tell you what I like about one style as apposed to another and why I choose hatha over pure bhakti but that is for me…allow everyone to find what works for them and be loving to all styles…that IS yoga.

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    Very Honest article…I am new to this kind of blogoshere with the emphasis on Yoga and other spiritual disciplines. What has struck me right off is the references to one's self and others as "Yogis"or "Yogini". I suppose this is harmless and nothing more than a show of camaraderie (sp?) among those who practice Yoga. It is also a worthy aspiration, to me probably the highest, to become a Yogi. But I am not sure we can matter of factly call ourselves yogis as freely as we seem to be. On one hand it is good to think of one's self this way so we fulfill our aspirations. But if my teacher refers to me as "Yogi" then maybe I am. But even then I am reticent, on a personal level, to refer to myself as Yogi.

    • Brooks Hall Brooks Hall says:

      Padma: I use the word "yogi" to describe anyone on the path. So it can be used for just about anyone. I'm not using it to indicate any kind of attainment or mastery. Thanks for your thoughts!

      • Padma Kadag says:

        I understand your use of the word Yogi. This is why i have written what I have written. I am only making an observation, not directed at you inparticular, but just as I wrote in my original comment. But…I do find it interesting your reference "to indicate any kind of attainment or mastery". It is my interpretation of Yogi as being that. Just as you stated, " to indicate any kind of attainment or mastery". It is not my intent to challenge anyone that refers to themselves as such. As I said, it struck me, having only recently been introduced to the western Yoga and Buddhist culture,that the term is so frequently used and with such ease. In my experience it is evident who a master refers to as Yogi. Whether it is a Yogi student of his or hers or if it is a fellow Yogi…but that is not to say that all students are regarded as Yogis. That is all…Not a personal comment on you.

        • Brooks Hall Brooks Hall says:

          Padma: It sounds like you make a distinction between a yogi and one who utilizes yoga practice techniques.

        • YogiOne says:

          Padma, each person who practices is engaging in a process or a journey if you will. While there may seem to be a beginning to each journey, the yogic journey has no end point, nor has it any milestones along the way that are the same for each person on the journey. Thus, there is really no way to compare one with another, nor is it desirable to do so. There are no graduation ceremonies or rites of passage. One is not a student one day and a yogi the next. There is a change in consciousness that happens to some practitioners as they practice – they slowly become to think of themselves as yogis and yoginis. Some of us see the yogi in everyone whether they can see it yet or not because we believe that all paths lead to the same place and we walk them all, no matter what we may have planned.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Hi Yogi One…I understand your very clear point. But this is my point. First I do not think that on the surface my comment is very "controversial" and also I think people can call themselves whatever they want. My comment is that here in the USA we adopt what we like from others without regard for the discipline and origin. In the case of "Yogi". Before one is considered a Yogi, yes they must be on the yogic path, but first they are accepted by a Guru or Lama as a student. Whether that Guru is male or female it does not matter. It only benefits you to be a disciple of a "proven" guru. That their lineage is one that gives results. If we loosely use the term Yogi this is rather inaccurate. Without lineage which has proven results and the Guru to guide you there is no Yoga. No Yogi. Yogi is a term which means something very wonderful as a result of an organized discipline with a Guru. If we practice a free form spirituality which is free of the Guru or his or hers proven authenticism then this is not Yoga and one cannot be referred to as a Yogi or Yogini. But….here in the USA we can do what we want…right?

          • YogiOne says:

            Padma,

            Thanks for your reply. I think I understand the cultural implications of your concern better than I did before. However, I'm not in complete agreement with your characterization of what we do in the USA. My yoga teachers have always been very intentional about honoring their teachers and honoring their lineage (usually more than one). I have noted that this has also been true of many of the studios I've visited during recent travels. Some hold more closely to a single influence and other do integrate knowledge and experience from a variety of sources. I suspect that we have different standards here for who we accept as students because anyone who is physically capable and has the cash will at least get in the door. It becomes more selective when we reach the point where we do teacher training. I'd also guess that few of us aspire to become Lamas or Gurus, but that may just be a difference in terms. We do have Yogis who are considered master teachers. We are probably more permissive with regard to allowing students to find their own spiritual path. I wonder what you think of this so far.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Good…What generally happens with my responses is that they evolve into a totally different animal. Bare with me. I cannot pretend to say that all Yogis in the west are not authentic. But I will say, and this refers to Brook's article, that if we use, as westerners, terminology or concepts or titles of being which are obviously part of a tradition of one yogic tradition or another then we should be aware that this simply is not done within the tradition unless we have been recognized or informally or formally have been accepted by a guru. I think as westerners calling ourselves Yogi without a Guru/disciple relationship is nothing more than fanciful ego aspiration. If this offends people then I also understand that maybe they are not aware that the title Yogi in India, Tibet, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia is considered to be of a more serious defining nature of which the aspiring westerner is not aware of. I have been in the company of a few very realized Ngakpas, Naljorpas, and Yogis , women and men, and they have never called themselves Yogi. Only they have done so in order to include others in their aspiration prayers.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Also…My saying any of this was sparked by recently seeing the ease in which people refer to themselves as Yogis here in the west. Thats all. If calling themself Yogi leads them to a wholesome, compassionate ,altruistic lifestyle…then by all means continue calling yourself Yogi. I think we both know that ultimately the label really does not do the practicing…it is the individual. But…I will say that if we as western dharma practitioners are to engage authentic dharma then there is no path other than that with an authentic Guru/Lama. If WE decide every moment how we are to shape our spiritual life without the Guru who has gone before…then the result we want will not happen. Books will not give you realization. Relying solely on asana will not either. Relying on the Guru will

          • YogiOne says:

            Padma,

            I've had a couple of thoughts about this over the past few days and wonder what you think. It occurred to me that in the West, people who practice Kundalini Yoga sometimes adopt a name that ends in Khalsa or Kaur Khalsa. I wouldn't ever think of doing that unless I studied Kundalini. I'd also guess that there is some process for earning that name within Kundalini, though I've no idea of what that might be. So, I guess that Westerners are perfectly respectful about such things when the lineage itself makes the rules clear. I am glad to know that the term Yogi is used differently in different cultures and appeciate you bring it to my attention. (Next issue in next comment)

          • YogiOne says:

            I don't know anyone who seriously practices yoga who only practices asana and only gets their information from books. Perhaps you were not suggesting that, but I just want to be clear. The Yogis I know study under various teachers and often seek out wisdom from a variety of sources deemed to be masterful. Some of us may also have a primary teacher. We are also mindful that Gurus are not perfect and focusing so much of one's energy on one person is risky(for many reasons I won't go into here). So, I would certainly question your assertion that the only path is with a Guru or Lama. They may have much to offer and devotion to a beloved teacher may be very valuable, but there are other worthy paths. Relying solely on any one of them is unlikely to provide everything that anyone seeks.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Hi Yogi One…The foundation of all Yoga (non-market place), all Tantra, all Buddhism, all Tantric Buddhism, all "hinduism"( I am some what assuming) is the Guru/Lama relationship with the disciple. If this does not exist I cannot see one referring to one's self as "Yogi". This is called Guru Yoga. The west has a problem with this concept. I understand that there are charlatans out there. Never the less, without the Guru there is no Yogi. When you find a Guru or the Guru finds you any other teaching from any other school is a waste of time. This was and still is the path of all masters. Our comfort must be challenged and not on our terms. We need to check out the guru and see if they are right for us. So…i completely disagree with the notion that you can attain enlightenment without a guru. Of course the buddha said that it is up to the individual to do the attaining…the Guru will not do it for you. Afterall, the Yogi is the one who is on the path to enlightenment…right?

          • Padma Kadag says:

            I think what sparked my original comment on the usage of the "self" title of Yogi these days was Brook's original article. Her not having a lineage based on her perception that they are rife with sexism. I understand this notion. However, in our condemnation of eastern paths because of sexism we are missing the point…don't have time nor want to discuss right this moment. But… we want to accept all of the trappings of being engaged with eastern paths. Such as referring to one's self as Yogi and doing Yoga and even creating our own Yogas as if we have accomplished the original intent of Yoga and are now able to create our own! The audacity. This is my concern. This could not and would not happen if we were all engaged with an authentic Guru.

          • YogiOne says:

            Yes. That would be called throwing out the baby with the bathwater. All traditions evolve over time and often for the better. If that wasn't so, we would all be Vedics or whatever came before Vedic philosophy or what was before that ad infinitum. This is also why I think that much of what is happening with Yoga in the West is actually very good. It is part of the evolution of Yoga. It is also pretty clear that the explosion of interest in Yoga in the West has spurred renewed energy and increasing practice in the East. Audacious? Maybe, but that ain't necessarily a bad thing. :-)

          • YogiOne says:

            Thanks for your replies. I don't see the issue as being one of whether a Guru is a charlatan, but more that all are falible. Just because a Guru fails to follow the path they teach perfectly, it doesn't mean that what they taught was wrong. I think it is better to put one's faith in the ideas and practices rather than in the person of even the most exalted authority. Be that as it may, are you saying the the term Yogi is exclusive to the Guru/Yogi relationship? If so, what is the definition of a Guru?

  7. Based on what you wrote above, you'll love Mitchell's Gita. The same basic dynamics apply as you described with your Sutra preferences, and Mitchell's is pure poetry, so clear and concise that he doesn't ever have any footnotes. Not one. (There is some important explanatory material in the Introduction, however, that might be footnotes in another treatment.)

    You can get the Bouanchaud at Amazon http://amzn.to/dfkD7l Used $36 New $268 (can that be right? A collectors item?)

    • Charlotte says:

      I have Mitchell's Gita translation already. That's the one I was initially drawn to. I'm glad to hear your vote of confidence on it.

      Yikes on the $268 price for Bouanchaud's book! I've also used Barbara Stoler MIller's (The Discipline of Freedom), Georg Feuerstein's, MSI's (Enlightenment), Iyengar's, Kofi Busia's (on his website), and some others. All the different perspectives help me see a bigger picture of the sutras.

  8. Charlotte says:

    Great comments all. As a person who has practiced yoga and Buddhism for 28 years (and published a book on the Eight Limbs), it has been difficult for me to watch the commodification of yoga in the U.S. When I see the endless photos of young, lithe "yoga bodies" in the media it makes me sad, because it's so not about fitness as we define it in this culture. It seems to me that yoga has become one more avenue that feeds into our cultural obsession with outer image. Like Linda, I know that it's not about how many jump-backs we do or which brand of yoga is better than which other brand. And like AR, I also understand that a person can be a yogi regardless of whether he or she has read the texts. All these ideas are diversions from the one thing that can truly lead us to freedom—practice. We can practice no matter what our body looks like and no matter what feats it is or is not capable of.

    On the subject of the youthful, skinny women in yoga ads, Hugger Mugger just last year featured a student of mine on the cover of their winter catalog who is 72 years old. For the record, I've modeled for them since the '80s, back when my hair was brown, and now that it is silver.

  9. Hi, Charlotte.

    I'm a strange mix. I embrace all forms of Yoga, but my own passion is the ancient Yoga texts, not just the Yoga Sutra (your book looks wonderful by the way Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life:
    A Guide for Everyday Practice
    ), but also the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, which I feel are equally important and badly neglected. I would like to personally invite you to join us at Gita Talk.

    I hope so see your commenting often here at Elephant.

    Bob Weisenberg

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi,

      Thanks for the invite! I plan to join the Gita talk once my Monday evening class is over for the summer. I've been reading some of the threads and it's really engaging. Thanks for getting people talking about the Gita.

      I've been studying the sutras with a fellow yoga teacher for the past four years. We have been using Alistair Shearer's translation as our "home base," but we both use another dozen translations to flesh out our understanding. We study three to six sutras each month, depending on how they are divided up in the text. Once a month we meet to discuss what we've learned. We finished the fourth chapter a month ago. This month's task is to review the fourth chapter. Then we'll take a couple months to review the whole thing. Then we plan to move on to the Gita.

      It's an amazing process. I'm sure I will continue returning to the sutras and find new gems.

  10. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Brooks,

    I am grateful to see you bring this topic to the table. It's one I have been intending to write about for quite a while now. More needs to be addressed, and I'm glad you, and recently Mahita Devi (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/the-fat-yo… ) have opened the conversation!

    Thank you again, and I'll add my .02 once i get that article written!

  11. Forgot to mention, Charlotte. If you can find a minute, this week were talking about Chapter 6 of the Gita, which is about the same topic as the Yoga Sutra–meditation. Great tie-in to your Yoga Sutra group. In fact you could invite your group to read this 10 page chapter of the Gita as part of your discussion of the Sutra. It's that relevant.

    As Eknath Easwaran writes:

    This is surely one of the most intriguing chapters of the Gita, for here we are given a detailed explanation of meditation addressed to the layperson. The same meditation techniques are given in more esoteric writings, such as the "Yoga Sutra" of Patanjali, but the Gita does it more simply, without any unnecessary mystery or complexity.

    When was the last time you heard the Gita referred to as less mysterious or complex than the Yoga Sutra? This turns the conventional viewpoint on its head–that the Gita is less read because it's more mysterious and complex than the Sutra.

    My own experience is that the Gita and the Upanishads are just as accessible as the Yoga Sutra, if not more so, once one gets used to their rich metaphorical language. Of course, all three are indispensable.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal.com

  12. YogiOne says:

    Brooks,

    There are beautiful women in every studio I've ever been to. I return to the same studio over and over because the teachers there can see my inner beauty and the inner beauty of everyone who comes through the door. As long as we focus on bringing that to the world, we will be just fine.

    The owner of the studio follows a tantric philosophy that honors the one energy as it flows between the masculine and feminine, Shiva/Shakti. This is the philosophy that forms the basis for Anusara yoga. I don't know if you will find what you seek there, but it may be worth exploring.

    • Brooks Hall Brooks Hall says:

      Thanks, YogiOne! I love this:

      "teachers there can see my inner beauty and the inner beauty of everyone who comes through the door. As long as we focus on bringing that to the world, we will be just fine."

      That sounds like a great focus!

  13. Yeshe Dorje says:

    Hey dear sister! I am confidant that there are female lineage holders available to you, and to all of us. We may have to look further than the glossy pages of some magazine to find them, but they are there/here. Send your aspiration out, it will be recognized – positive circumstances will arise.

  14. Brooks Hall Brooks Hall says:

    Padma:
    In the ancient sense of the word you are right. Yoga was passed from the Guru or teacher to the Sisya or pupil. Your thoughts had me asking myself, “Is the use of the word ‘yogi’ a false cultural appropriation of the word?” And I thought of the, to me offensive, appropriation of the Japanese word ‘Kabuki’ to describe political theater. Kabuki theater is a traditional art form, and to use it, the way it has been used to describe posturing in American politics is not appropriate.

    But, when it comes to Americans calling themselves ‘yogis’ I see it differently because many of us have gone to India and paid for yoga training from teachers like B.K.S. Iyengar, and the late Pattabhi Jois. And many have become certified in India to teach yoga to others. So yoga, while it was discovered in India, has expanded beyond that country. So teachers are now teaching students yoga worldwide. The tradition has taken a modern form.

  15. Melanie Klein Melanie Klein says:

    Great article. I've been concerned with this issue for years and this topic is the inspiration for several upcoming blog posts. This needs to be discussed on a much wider basis. Thank you for setting the wheels in motion.

  16. [...] spiritual lineage was, and is, male-dominated—leaving me (and many other women) to wonder “where are the women?” Do we have to match mainstream standards of perfection to garner recognition and [...]

  17. Brooks:

    Thomas Day wrote a book called “Why Catholics Can’t Sing,” in which he examined some of the changes in the church since Vatican II. One interesting idea he put forth is that a lot of nuns were very much behind “the changes,” and became infuriated at appeals to “tradition,” because the whole idea of tradition and lineage, as it is understood in the church, is–as you imply here in the context of yoga–a “male thing.” Even womens’ bodies, one nun said, undergo irreversible changes resulting in the movement from one stage of life to another, with no going back. Everybody quotes the Desert Fathers, in part, because the Desert Mothers didn’t write stuff down as much. Perhaps men’s experience–maybe even in the absence of overt sexism or devaluing of women–conduces more to continuity than womens’ does.

    Of course, it may also be the case that “female lineage holders” are harder to find because the system, as it is set up, obscures them, but I will leave YogiOne, or someone else with more knowledge, to address that!

  18. this is a laugh for you from me :)

    Someone just said: “You Smell Prettier Than a Big Basket of Christmas Cakes …” to me and so I am going to say the same to you! :)

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