My Wife Loves Yoga Journal Just the Way It Is, Thank You

Via on Aug 11, 2010

(Written in response to Monday’s Yoga Journal Controversy, by Ramesh Bjonnes,
both the article itself and the resulting discussion.)

My Dear Friend Ramesh,

Why, why, why does everyone have to be the same? You do the Yoga you love. I’ll do the Gita Yoga I love. Anusara devotees will do the Yoga they love. Bikram, Asthanga, Kripalu, Ananda, Himalayan Institute, YMCA, etc. 

My wife Jane will continue to do the daily 45 minutes of pre-dawn asana to her Yoga Journal Jason Crandell DVD. She will continue to love Yoga Journal just the way it is (including all the ads) and she’ll continue to be completely uninterested in what you consider to be real Yoga. 

She and hundreds of thousands of other happy Yoga Journal lovers don’t merit your derision. They are fine just the way they are. Try to attract them to your Yoga, if you wish. But don’t do it by demeaning the Yoga they love.  Live and let live. 

Subscribe to Yoga International.  Start a new traditionalist magazine.  Tell people how wonderful your Yoga stuff is.  Get Yoga Journal to publish more articles about your stuff.  Spread the word.

But stop looking down your nose as people like my wife who simply don’t care to follow your particular path. Sell the positive message of your type of practice without tearing down the type of Yoga most Yoga Journal readers like to practice. 

There are plenty of other people to carry on what you consider to be the real Yoga.  Why do you feel you need to convert Yoga Journal readers, many of whom just aren’t interested?  Sell your stuff, but at the same time, embrace diversity and accept people who are different from you.

Bob Weisenberg
(who practices Gita Yoga, the oldest and most traditional Yoga of all, but doesn’t have anything against those who choose to practice modern innovations like those in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 1500 AD)

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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27 Responses to “My Wife Loves Yoga Journal Just the Way It Is, Thank You”

  1. David Lincecum says:

    Amen brother! I like it just the way it is too. There is no "problem" with Yoga Journal. It just 'is'.

  2. Joslyn Hamilton says:

    Amen again. So tired of all the judging. Let people do their thing!

  3. candicegarrett says:

    I agree! I find very few things more offensive in the yoga world than elitist yoga. People who practice in the gym are still practicing. People who never know who Patanjali is, people who practice in a heated room, people who simply sit. It's all yoga. That's the beauty of it. Each person will find the perspective they need!

    • Ramesh says:

      I agree, too. there are those who practice yoga for fitness and those who practice for enlightenment and those who do a little bit of both. It's all various forms of yoga. I agree.

      That was not what my piece was about. My piece was a critique of the marketing of yoga and the commercialization of the culture of yoga.

  4. carrie says:

    yoga is what you make it to be

  5. Aron says:

    Thank you Bob.

  6. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    I hope that we can avoid getting into a "Yoga Journal: Love it 100% the Way it Is, or Shut Up, Go Away & Do Your Own Thing" dynamic. I know that it's difficult, but we are yoga practitioners, and should be able to respect YJ for the good things it offers AND question some aspects of how it's handling its highly influential role in the yoga world at the same time.

    • Charlotte says:

      Thanks for pointing out that this is not a black-and-white issue.

    • I agree with you 100% Carol. But I didn't sense the slightest bit of "respect" for Yoga Journal staff and readers in Ramesh's piece, did you? If I had, I probably never would have written this response in the first place.

      (There have been a great many blogs and comments sharply critical of Yoga Journal that didn't cause me to react like this. I'm guessing the original respectful eloquent critic herself, Judith Lasater, would not appreciate being identified with Ramesh's blog.)

      Plus I fully expect Ramesh to write an eloquent hard-hitting rebuttal, and I look forward to it. So I'm certainly not trying to cut off debate. Love debate and getting all points of view out.

      I'm with you, Carol.

      Bob W.

      • Ramesh says:

        Bob,

        In my article I did not say anything about the editors of Yoga Journal.

        But here goes. I do respect the fact that YJ still do sometimes print in-depth articles about yoga. I do respect the fact that YJ makes a direct point at explaining that yoga is more than just fitness, that yoga is not a religion, but a spiritual discipline. I respect that.

        But, I do not respect nor favor the overall direction the magazine has taken. That direction is the direction many good and wholesome people face when in charge of a company or a magazine where market and profit trumps deeper values.

        This is not unique to YJ. This is an unfortunate aspect of hard-core, profit-oriented capitalism. And I have much more respect for those people who try to resist this trend than those who support it.

      • Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

        Thanks, Bob. I was worried that my post was a little too bumper-stickerish, and am relieved that you didn't take offense, as none intended.

  7. Ramesh says:

    Bob,
    my article was not a criticism of the diverse practices of yoga. My article was not a criticism of people only practicing yoga for fitness. My article was not a criticism of of people not wanting to mediate or have anything to do with the study of the Gita. My article was not advocating everybody practicing yoga being the same.

    Those are all your assertions about me and my piece. But that was not what my piece was about.

    My piece was a direct response to Judith Lasater's letter to Yoga Journal saying that she has had it with the way yoga is being portrayed in their ads.

    That was what my article was mainly about, Bob.

    In addition, my article was about why I disliked the way that Yoga Journal has changed over the years: becoming more commercialized, more fitness oriented, more sexploitation-like, using super-slim, near-anorexic, hyper-mobile women to market their slant on yoga.

    I also said that because of this trend, that I favored other types of magazines….which, based on the feedback I got, a majority of people agreed with.

    That was what my article was about, Bob.

    My article was in no way directed towards those who wish to practice only certain physical aspects of yoga. I think that is great!
    My article was directed at how the most well read yoga magazine today markets this kind of yoga.

    So, I really think you missed the real message in my article, Bob.

  8. kat says:

    i really appreciated your article, Ramesh. it needed to be written and i agree with your perspective. thank you!

  9. Manatosh says:

    Namastè Bob,

    I read your comments and I have to say that I was a bit surprised by what you are writing considering that you are an expert in the Giita.
    In the Bhagavad Giita Kirshna is very clear on the point that people should take a strong position against adharmic behaves, even when this adharmic behaves are performed by very close friends or relatives. Surely you know better than me about the story of Arjuna, even if he felt compassion for his friends Kaurava, he had to do his dharmic duty and fight. Of course it is a metaphor, nobody has to fight the "Holy War of Yoga" ;-) but still, I think that is a good thing to take the responsibility to point out the limits and the contradictions of magazines like YJ or of many yoga studios in U.S.
    After all, in the Giita, the Kaurava represents symbolically the vrittis (the psycho-physical propensities), related to the chakras and so, the natural behaves of human beings in this life. In fact, the goal of the yoga practices is precisely to control these vrittis and to channelize them toward the Supreme Consciousness, Brahma, Parama Purusha, so to experience the Union of the Atman with the Universe around it.

    So, I actually admire people like Ramesh that pointing out these issues, somehow are helping us to become more aware of some of these vrittis (propensities) of our mind/society, and in this way they give us the chance to challenge ourselves.

    Have a nice day

    Manatosh

    • Thanks for writing, Manatosh. I"m not even close to being an expert in the Gita–strictly an avid amateur. I have no credentials whatsoever, except my own brain and writing. Not trying to mislead anyone about that!

      I heartily encourage Ramesh to voice his opinion. I'm disagreeing with his opinion, and I'm also suggesting that he express himself with more awareness of and respect for the management and readers of Yoga Journal, who I know for sure are not the mindless corporate lackeys his piece makes them out to be.

      I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading your suggestions.

      Bob Weisenberg

  10. integralhack says:

    If Elephant Journal keeps doing all this free blog marketing for Yoga Journal and Toe Sox, they might stop running nude adverts . . . Bob, Waylon, cease and desist . . . please! ;)

  11. Hello,

    I just wanted to say that I have been following for a few months on and off and I would like to sign up for the daily feed. I am not to computer smart so I'll give it a try but I will need some help. This is a great find and I would hate to lose touch, and maybe never find it again.

    Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to reading/posting again in the future!

  12. Mary Donnery says:

    Namaste Bob,
    Thank you for writing this…Like your wife, I also enjoy reading Yoga Journal (among many other fine yoga publications) and I consider myself to be a committed and intelligent yoga practitioner. I am however, disappointed at all the judgment I'm coming across in the yoga community in recent months as to how one should practice yoga. This is a shame, as yoga is a wonderful path to self realization and no one should made to feel foolish for their personal choices in their yoga practice. While the acknowledgment and respect of the history and texts of yoga are important, I believe that it is more relevant that people unroll their mats and simply practice. Ultimately yoga is an intuitive and personal journey into stillness, and no magazine, ad, book or critic can change that.

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  15. Hi, Melanie. You ask a fair and perceptive question. Isn't Ramesh's piece just hard-hitting cultural criticism? And, if so, what's wrong with that?

    I love cultural criticism. Good cultural criticism is aggressive, informed, well-reasoned, logical, persuasive, and it makes you think hard about your positions even if you don't agree. There's a lot of good cultural criticism at Elephant. My friend Ramesh here has written a good deal of it himself in his other articles.

    Cultural criticism is not: The shallow manipulative sex-obsessed profit-hungry people at Yoga Journal have a Yogic responsibility to educate their shallow manipulated sex-obsessed readers to understand how shallow manipulated and sex-obsessed they are, and to lead them to practice the real Yoga, the deep Yoga, the "cultural, the wholesome, the intellectual, and the spiritual" Yoga which just happens to be the kind of Yoga I practice. But unfortunately, they never will, because they are so shallow manipulative, sex-obsessed and profit-hungry.

    I love cultural criticism. But this just doesn't make the grade, don't you agree?

    I'd actually love to see Ramesh rewrite his article to be cultural criticism. It would have to show some knowledge of what Yoga Journal management is really like, and show some appreciation of the diversity and sophistication of Yoga Journal's two million readers, at least one of which, whom I know very well, doesn't begin to match the image of the shallow manipulated Yoga Journal reader Ramesh presents.

    Bob Weisenberg
    ElephantJournal

    P.S. If I ever write something like this, I hope someone will step up and hammer me for it, too.

  16. Thank you for writing, Akshey. We appreciate your point of view.

    Bob Weisenberg

  17. YogiOne says:

    Akshey,

    Many people, myself included, start doing yoga with no understanding or knowledge of the holistic nature of the practice. I first did yoga when my wife invited me to do Yoga and Chocolate. It was a deeply moving experience for me and led me deeply into Yoga as a lifestyle and into what many would consider a spiritual practice. Thus, I would not discount the many "yoga and" opportunities out there. While the "and" part may or may not be spiritual, the yoga part cannot really be stripped of its benefits because of its association with commercial or other secular activities. Yoga is Yoga.

  18. Ramesh says:

    Bob, you said, and you wrote the following: "Cultural criticism is not: The shallow manipulative sex-obsessed profit-hungry people at Yoga Journal have a Yogic responsibility to educate their shallow manipulated sex-obsessed readers to understand how shallow manipulated and sex-obsessed they are, and to lead them to practice the real Yoga, the deep Yoga, the "cultural, the wholesome, the intellectual, and the spiritual" Yoga which just happens to be the kind of Yoga I practice. But unfortunately, they never will, because they are so shallow manipulative, sex-obsessed and profit-hungry."

    I find it funny that you seem to take this a lot more seriously than I do! These words above are mainly your reactions to my piece, and when I read most of the other 60 or so responses, yours is the strongest, most offended voice!

    Much of my piece was tongue in cheek, such as the part about not bringing the YJ women into my meditation room, etc, and a lot more. This was a sarcastic response, and I even tried to put some humor into it!

    So, maybe we should do some laugh yoga for a while, Bob.!

  19. That's a great story, Shy. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Bob W.

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