Why I Left Yoga (& Why I Think A Helluva Lot Of People Are Being Duped). ~ Irasna Rising

Via on Jul 18, 2012

Photo: Flickr/Eugenijus Barzdzius

For further reading:

Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t). ~ 

9 Rules Every Yoga Teacher Should Follow.

Like millions of Westerners out there, I too joined the yoga bandwagon about eight years ago.

After trying out my first Bikram class, I moved onto Moksha and then settled at a hot yoga studio, which practices all types of yoga, in a hot space.

I too fell in love with how yoga made my body feel after a particularly tough workout.

I too fell into the pseudo-spiritual aspects of the practice.

And, finally, I too got burned out by the practice.

Disillusioned—and at times—even disgusted at the people who I thought should be setting an example to the rest of us. But, as it turns out, they are even more messed up than you realize—and yoga is just an effective cloak to hide their true nature.

For me, it was and always will be the health benefits of yoga which attracted me, and that still keep me around. But, perhaps in my naïveté,  I also thought the people who were a part of the scene would be as sincere as they appeared to be.

I had read just about every book out there, was thoroughly sick of the New Age charlatans claiming to have psychic abilities all in the name of Mr. Dollar—and selling their wares, whether it was books, weekend retreats or $1,000 seminars—and I became disenchanted with what the so-called “good life” that a Westernized professional was offering (it’s a formula, no more.)

With yoga, I finally felt that I found something authentic, based on authentic teachings…plus, I felt great afterwards.

The people seemed nice; they had read and kept quoting all the great seers and sages of the centuries: Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Rumi, Hafiz and more recently, writers like Eckhart Tolle. They were into the green movement, recycling and genuinely concerned about Mother Earth. They wore Toms and donated to legitimate foundations like Unicef, Right to Play and so on.

But a few nagging observations wouldn’t leave me.

1. First of all, I’m of Indian heritage. I’m brown. You look at me and you know I’m ethnic. I speak the language and still have many extended family members in India and I go back to visit often. By and large (and I’m generalizing, since it’s not always the case) but yoga in the West is increasingly becoming a trendy diversion for the affluent and bored—or those who are obsessed with the body beautiful and the cult of hedonism which follows that.

Now, I see yoga branching out into such things like chocolate yoga or trance dance yoga, where in short, the culture of the nightclub or rave is being super-imposed onto yoga.

India is still deeply conservative, socially; arranged marriages are still the norm in the villages and were also the norm in the big cities, until maybe 20 years ago. Binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and drug taking, which are elements of the club culture, are strongly frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable in many social circles in India. But yet, it is being passed off as something that is a part of yoga by North American suburban kids and marketers looking for the next big trend…when it just isn’t true.

I can barely make out one non-Caucasian at this Bikram yoga training session.

2. It is extremely classist. It lacks plurality and inclusiveness. I do not see many people of blue-collar backgrounds who can afford these classes on a regular basis—and many of them are precisely the ones who could probably benefit the most from yoga. Most of the studios in my city charge around $1,200 for an unlimited yearly membership. That’s serious coin.

I can hardly  envision a stressed out, single mother, trying to raise her kids on social assistance being able to afford that when she probably needs the benefits of yoga more than the pampered trophy wife who just returned form her five-star shamanistic initiation retreat in Bolivia.

If anyone can find a non-Caucasian here, let me know.

I walk into most of my yoga classes and I see nothing but a sea of white faces, with maybe the token black and asian. Some people may read that as a racist statement but I’m not trying to be racist—and this isn’t a reverse racism argument either—it is just my observation.

Yoga in North America caters to the affluent and is falling in line with the capitalist system of profit. It is increasingly distancing itself from the true roots of yoga.

3. It is really annoying to watch some white people try to act ethnically brown, when they are not…and will never be.

Pussy Cat Dolls

Intention is everything here. I can understand there is a difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, but when the Pussy Cat Dolls show up in saris at some premiere, you have to ask yourself: what is the intention?

Pale women with Shiva tramp-stamps do not look good in saris, doing Bollywood dance moves or wearing bhindis—especially if they have freckles (like, really.)

For Indian women, this is part of their cultural heritage and identity, not some gimmicky hip trend to try out and pose around in until the next trend shows up.

Ganeshananda—’m wondering how many Indian followers does he have?

4. Sanskrit, like Latin, is a dead language. Let it go already.

The Catholic Church let go of the Latin Mass after Vatican II back in the early 1960’s. Chanting in sanskrit does not make you look cool nor does it make you an automatic Hindu. Or, an authority on yoga, Vedic studies or Indology (yes, that is a real academic subject.)

Nor does having a made up Sanskit-derived moniker name make you any more real either with names like Blissananda, Ganeshananda, Serenityananda etc.

5. Just because it’s exotic does not mean it’s real or more authentic. Real Indians, in India, make fun of many Westerners behind their backs and are making money off of their ignorance.

Do you see real, native Indians, in the fancy expensive ashrams in India? No.

Do you see many native Indians “following” your Guruji? Probably not.

Do you see many Indian women at these open air clothing-optional Tantric weekend couples workshops in Hawaii?

Did you ever ask why not? I’ll let you in on a little secret: many of these so-called gurus and God-men (and women) of India are scam artists—but because their ashrams and centres bring in so much much-needed cash and tourist dollars, the Indian government looks the other way. And in fact, they are in on it too.

There is nothing spiritual about it. It’s a cash cow and they are milking many Western followers of yoga for all they can get. Not always—I am generalizing. There are some authentic teachers left in India—but they’re usually just minding their own business and not interested in selling anything or proselytizing people. Unfortunately, the former is happening more frequently than the latter.

YouTube Preview Image

Another yogi who pretty much indirectly admits Caucasians are inferior to Indians is Bikram Choudhury. In his 60 minutes interview, he said that the intense physical aspects of Bikram yoga is more “suitable” to North Americans because they need to discipline themselves physically before they can start on the spiritual and psychic—and that it’s not necessary for Indians. That somehow, the physical and mental make-up of Caucasians is different from Indians and therefore, they need to do an additional step of rigorous physical training before attempting anything spiritual. Does anyone see the double-speak and double-standard here? (at 1:15 and 10:10)

Thai Forest Tradition Buddhist monk.

They are promising you enlightenment just as long as you pay up or keep giving enforced “donations”—but it doesn’t work that way.

Why do you think celibate Buddhist monks devote their entire lives to living in monasteries under vows of poverty, living off of alms, trying to achieve enlightenment?

Because it’s excruciatingly hard work—and it takes a lot more than a weekend retreat or two, plus reading a best-seller, to get there.

6. Yoga can become cultic—very quickly—and the levels of self-absorption and narcissism can sky-rocket easily if you don’t watch it…so keep your radar tuned in. I have heard stories of certain Jivamukti yoga instructors threatening to cut off friendships with other yoga instructors from other traditions because they were not completely vegan.

Really folks?

That’s all you can think about?

A woman runs from anti-riot police during a demonstration in Athens, Greece.

There’s a nuclear reactor in Japan which is about to fail and spells disaster for the West coast of North America. Workers in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are on the front lines fighting technocrats and bankers who are trying to rob them of their right to live in some semblance of dignity and respect. There’s a Maoist insurgency in central India and peasants are trying to keep their land from mining companies and this is what you choose to bicker about?

7. The level of cultural awareness among some of the yoga set is pitiful at times. And yet, this is the same crowd that tries to come off as cultural and spiritual mouthpieces for Indian sub-continent.

It is truly a subcontinent, with vast differences in culture, religion, diet, language, customs and history. The only commonality you will find among Punjabis, Gujaratis, Marathis, Rajasthanis, Bengalis, Tamils, Goan, Keralese, Nepalis, Uttar Pradeshi, Kashmiri, Assamese, Ladakhs, Orissians etc is possibly the brown skin…if that.

Once upon a time, all these provinces and territories were their own kingdoms and countries. They were amalgamated and consolidated into one state and created into India by the British. Think of them as entirely different countries with their own unique identities—you wouldn’t mix up a Pole with a Russian (and if you did, they’d probably punch you), so why should you mix up a Tamil with a Punjabi?

You have no idea how annoying it is to hear some girl at the yoga studio look at you and say, “Oh, I have an Indian friend and her parents made her get married to some computer engineer in San Jose and she had to get this thing signed with witnesses. What’s that about?”

Me: “Was she Sikh?”

Girl: “No, I think she’s Muslim.”

Me: “Well, I’m Sikh, so I’m not really sure.”

Girl: “But she’s Indian, just like you.”

Me: “Yeah, but we have many different religions in India and practice things differently.”

And it just goes downhill from there.

In the end, I began to see how vacuous the scene was becoming and has become.

I still love the feeling I get after doing a session but I just can’t stand to be around the high-school popularity contest atmosphere which has permeated many of the studios these days—and some of the more vapid personalities who are claiming to be instructors and taking advantage of their privileges.

I know they are not all like that. There are some genuine, well-meaning people in the yoga community and some of them are doing some truly outstanding work.

But for me personally, I question the profit-driven, hedonistic aspects which seems to have taken over the subculture.

Yogadork recently had an article asking if yoga needs to grow up.

In short, yes. Big time.

*This pieced has been adapted from the original post on earthenergyreader.wordpress.com.

Earth Energy Reader is an over-educated but bored thirty-something who loves pugs, organic gardening, traveling to off-the-beaten-path places and pleasant surprises.

Likes: The Truther Movement, well-done astrology, 80′s alternative music, rainbows, flowers that smell like flowers, mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, wine and port, Indian, Thai and Greek food, Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Sunday brunch, reading, Ryzsyard Kapucinski books, old Jean Paul Gaultier, red lipstick, leopard print pumps, vintage hats and David Bowie.

Dislikes: Hip hop, country western music, Nickelback, New Agers, Canadian winters, Stephen King, sheeple, suburban mediocrities, Mexican food, Mondays, jocks, himbos and bimbos, people who ride their bicycle on the foot path and pedestrians on the bike path especially when the two paths are next to each other, people who stand at the front of the bus and block the entrance when there are tons of open seats in the back. You get the idea.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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384 Responses to “Why I Left Yoga (& Why I Think A Helluva Lot Of People Are Being Duped). ~ Irasna Rising”

  1. Melanie plowman says:

    I can totally see some of your points and totally understand.
    But, truly, people need to get over hating Nickleback. People hated AC/DC in the 80’s and it was one of the biggest bands for concerts. Nickleback is not all that bad and people shoukd stop hating this Canadian band. Promote what is popukar and great for Canada!

  2. sonyata says:

    "Real Indians, in India, make fun of many Westerners behind their backs and are making money off of their ignorance."

    Most "real Indians" don't practice yoga. Yoga is something you must study and practice, not something you are blessed with by virtue of your national heritage. It seems to me that you quit your practice just as you reached the point where you really need to practice. You have not made it past the external world and the outer practice enough to begin the inner practice.

    I remember reading this two years ago. I am still practicing. Namaste.

  3. Suzi says:

    Wow! The article sounds so bitter! Find a class you like, be true to yourself and your values and celebrate with those you have found the practice of yoga – traditional or modern western and be grateful that yoga and all it is can be freely practiced worldwide. Each to their own.

  4. Cam says:

    I loved this article, I thought it was refreshing compared to all the “find your center, be one with the universe, be infinite love, foster spiritual romance!” stuff that the yoga community eats up like cotton candy and funnel cakes at a county fair.

    No one likes to address or even acknowledge the other side of that cotton candy coin. The fact that American culture likes to co-opt and appropriate anything rooted in other cultures they can exploit and use for capitalistic gain and see absolutely nothing wrong with doing so.

    I think yoga is awesome and has brought some MUCH needed awareness to America of our ecological and humanitarian footprint.

    I also think that many people flock to yoga because they need to be sold the lie that “everything will be awesome once you’ve reached enlightenment. And the path to enlightenment is much quicker if you buy this $90 mat, and $60 non-slip towel, and $95 yoga pants, and shop at whole foods.”

  5. Ella Guru says:

    Wow, way to grasp and create a problem out of something that is not. I am so sick of articles that just recreate past ideas instead of really investigate and write original ideas. Blah, blah, blah. I live in a town where we have $5 yoga classes in a comfortable setting where no one is pressured into the religious side of it, and can go at their own pace. It is not a scene, it is a place where people can gather and exercise and be well. Stop your bitching, because you live somewhere that isn't possible, or stop trying to write an article for the sake of it.

  6. danielle says:

    Thanks for a great read and bringing up points which are well worth discussing. These points also remind us never to ditch critical thought – quite often it's intuition knocking on the door saying 'wake up!!'

  7. Sande says:

    "I have heard stories of certain Jivamukti yoga instructors threatening to cut off friendships with other yoga instructors from other traditions because they were not completely vegan.Really folks? That’s all you can think about?"

    Actually, yes…it is all I think about. I am not a Jivamukti teacher, but Jivamukti teaches veganism as following all of the yamas. I don't think they are cutting off friendships – I believe they must be frustrated with other yogis who refuse to bear witness to what is going on in our culture. Too many people claiming to "practice" yoga do not even care about the yamas..and in particular, Ahimsa. Cruelty to animals on such a massive scale is harmful to our peace on any and every level. We talk about unity, connection, oneness….until we practice ahimsa on a level that includes ending specieism and the animal holocaust, we are just doing poses. Veganism is an essential part of a yogic lifestyle. Veganism is the essence of Ahimsa, so yes….that is all I think about. It's not cultish…it's kindness. http://www.earthlings.com

  8. Leslie says:

    I like what Aaron said. I am poor, legally blind and on disability, and yoga was the best thing that ever happened to me aside from having kids. I took yoga at the Unity Church for a love offering. I am pale faced and white, but I love the spirituality of yoga and the physical practice has helped me with anxiety and depression. I know lots of rich people take yoga, but not always. I do my yoga practice at home now. I think the article was a bit judgmental.

  9. Liberty says:

    So, what about a whitey who genuinely DOES want to learn about the culture and spiritual theory of yoga, in addition to getting the exercise and health benefits? I'm interested in yoga because it looks like something I might be able to do considering my various health problems, (it looks relaxing at the same time as exercising, if I'm understanding it correctly) and even though I am firmly within my own religion I still find aspects I like in other religions and would love to enrich myself in them. (Which is why I follow this blog in the first place.) I am not at all interested in "what's trendy" and I have taken one yoga class but currently live in an area where yoga isn't offered, or I would try to take more. (Given if the price is fair.)

    Additionally, as some people have mentioned, I really dislike the exclusive, elitist attitude that a lot of cultures have. So you're all high and mighty and think your culture is better, but you won't let other people in? What's up with that? Not saying that this is necessarily true of you, article writer, but I still sense a little bit of that attitude from your writings.

    I come from a church that very much has the attitude of wanting to spread to everyone and anyone possible, and the members are supposed to hold up the same attitude, even if they don't always do so. For the people who get cliquish, I just want to slap them upside the head–they are such hypocrites!

  10. YoginiKat says:

    $1200 a year for yoga is incredibly reasonable for a student to pay! 100 a month for unlimited yoga means if you go 3x a week you pay $9 per class. People who go 6 times a week pay less than $5. That’s NOTHING. Yoga teachers are struggling and broke because of attitudes like yours that yoga is not worth paying for.

  11. Sustainable Humane Earth says:

    Sanskrit Heritage and Language is not "dead" by the way, and if we "let it go" then it really will be? Sanskrit is a perfected system of sound partitions and will never fall apart, and is the source of all yogic and Vedic wisdom.

  12. Brad says:

    Wow is right. Right nail on the head. So much identification with something that most don't have any clue about. But damn are the egos big.

    So I applaud you for being brave/stupid enough to open your mouth and then get the pounding from the ignorant masses that disagree with you like their experience or comment come from any place that actually has valid education to say something.

  13. I am a volunteer yoga teacher in juvenile detention. Nothing in this article applies.

  14. calliecath says:

    The human ego will take the time to materialize and make anything about identity and money. Not just yoga. anything and everything. The purpose of life is to learn your lessons and ultimately be happy. Does yoga make you happy? Does it bring you to a place of peace? If you answered yes then all other arguments are irrelevant and need not be paid attention to.

  15. nicksa says:

    Dear One,
    If you want authentic yoga, not chocolate or hot yoga, you CAN NOT let go of Sanskrit.
    It is the very sonic and continual creating of consciousness in every moment.
    I thought you would've known that being Inidan and all, having relatives in India and all that.

  16. lilrandomboy758 says:

    Truthers should have to preface every public statement with that admission. Possibly the most bitter group of people in western civ.

  17. Poet's Spirit says:

    Thank you for speaking out. Whilst we obviously can't generalise about every yogi and yoga studio there (there are still a lot of good guys out there just trying to do good) I wholeheartedly agree with so much of your article. There is one particular chain of power yoga studios in Australia (who I won't name) who I used to go to regularly that have now given me a real distaste for yoga. On a recent retreat run by the studio away in Bali students were asked to make sure that at some point during the retreat they opened up publicly and spoke in front of the other students about any personal "issues" they were trying to work through. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this what really rubbed me the wrong way was the way I felt the program and the people running the program were emotionally bullying people into this. Towards the end of the retreat one organiser told the group that if anyone had not yet gone up and spoken they should make sure they do so soon and if they don't perhaps they would like to explain to the rest of the class why they feel they're above this and why they think they are more "enlightened" than everyone else that they don't feel they need to do this. Again, let me say those 2 words – emotional bullying.

  18. YogiSoMore says:

    Agreed! Very much so! And it's about time someone wrote an honest piece.
    You said what WE are all thinking. LOVE!

  19. Jai Ma says:

    Namaskar, thank you for sharing. The West has commodity but it does not have the spirituality that the East has. It is important to allow the West to evolve spirituality but I do agree, it can be incredibly annoying to see the process. I lived in the US for many years and got to the point where I could no longer digest the level of commercialism and superficiality that was "in my face" every day. I wanted to be immersed in truth and I knew that every time I stepped out into the world I lived in, I would have to work that much harder to get back to the inner work I was doing. But that is me. That is the nature of my own soul and so I left. I did not leave yoga for God's sake. Yoga is my path to God within my own self. But I left the place that was taking me away from my inner path and I allowed myself to be guided to a place that I could happily live with. Where you may ask? Not in the US and not in India but a place on Earth I had no idea even existed. I will add that the ignorance is nonetheless and unfortunately, annoying here too. I have wondered, so, where to now? But there is no where to for now because I am a teacher and my students look to me to tell them the very words I have written here. When you feel abandoned by life, do not abandon your self. Be true to your self and life will be true to you. The ignorance and the lack of culture in the US and in other parts of the world, is the karma to work through. Perhaps you have an important role to play where you are. I truly never had any interest in yoga or in India or its various aspects of such, but Indians very intentionally brought me to their practice and to their land and although I was upset at them since I was White and affluent and felt used, I realized that I was also free to choose for myself. I chose not to be angry at them anymore but to thank them for introducing me to such a wonderful culture and such beautiful people. I love India, Sikhs, Patanjali, Gurus, chai tea, lentils, saying namastè, you name it … because I have found all of these aspects in my own soul just as once in my life, I had joyously played with the superficial dance of the West. It is all God's leela rasa. But we must be careful for we are speaking generally here aren't we? Because in a sea of generalisation, there is a gem to be found and when that gem is found guess what… it becomes an example for others. May you become that example wherever God has placed you. Blessings to you sweet soul. Namastè

  20. Donna says:

    Although I agree with most of what you've written, especially about the West's capitalistic influence on yoga, I must agree with other commenters about the bitterness. Just a glance at your "dislikes" would tell me that though. Your racist comments toward Causasians (complete with the picture of white people doing yoga..how offensive!) was unnecessary and diminished your article as a whole. You would reach more minds and hearts if you blessed your own with forgiveness and compassion.

  21. Carrie says:

    sounds like you really need to do some yoga…good intentions and all

  22. Jess says:

    I keep typing responses about how reading this article made me feel, and then deleting everything I've typed. This article comes across as very judgmental and angry to me, which the author is completely entitled to feel. However, just because I am a pale Caucasian with freckles does not mean that I am any less respectful of Indian culture or the original "true yogis" because I choose to dive into my practice and learn all that I can about myself and others through yoga. Certainly yoga as it is practiced in the US is very, very different from the yoga that has been practiced for hundreds of years in India. That doesn't necessarily make all Western yoga or practitioners wrong. Of course there are many people who practice that fail to realize the true meaning(s) of the practice, but there will always be idiots who miss the point of every meaningful tradition/practice. It is our job to let that roll off of our backs in the hopes that they one day truly find the lessons that yoga can teach us about ourselves and others and this world.

    What I am getting very strongly from this article is that as you place these VERY harsh judgments on those people who don't practice or act the way YOU want them to, you yourself seem, in my own humble opinion, to be guilty of missing the point of practicing yoga as well–forgiveness, compassion, peace, growth and non judgement. We may not agree with or even like anyone else in the room during our public practice, but yoga is far more about diving into YOURSELF and growing, improving, and having more respect for all living creatures. Perhaps all of the time that was spent noticing what sucks about everyone ELSE doing yoga could have been better spent by refocusing your energy inward, toward something positive, as opposed to writing a scathing review of why yoga and Americans who practice yoga are so crappy. I hope that you find what you are looking for. <3

  23. Kerrie says:

    Goodness. It seems you are a very disillusioned person. I am Australian and attend yoga classes in a big gym, but the teachers also teach and practice in yoga studios. The gyms that I attend have a very mixed racial and sexual identity, but we all practice our yoga and get from it what we come to achieve within our own ability. I have not noticed here , that it is something for white middle class people. I think there are many students and just ordinary working or non working people who attend. I have done a teacher training in Thailand and it seemed there that there were people from all over the world, of all different backgrounds and races. All just looking to find something or to improve themselves or to find something spiritual and enhance it. I don't think it fair of you to judge a Caucasian girl with red hair and freckles, for wanting to wear something that she thinks looks beautiful and makes her feel beautiful inside and out. No more than you should judge people for wearing grunge or dreadlocks or a tailored suit for that matter. We are all allowed to wear and be what we want and all that should be important is that we are kind to each other and to ourselves and that we are respectful of each other. As a nurse of more than forty years this is something that I practise in my working life, my family life and in my life of practising yoga as well. Yoga is for anyone to practise how they want.

  24. Bridget says:

    This article made me smile. In fact I think I'll share it on facebook. I happen to concur completely. These are all the very same reasons I stopped going to yoga classes… well, and I'm broke… but sheesh.

  25. Judy says:

    right on! But seriously, an endorphine rush is universal,in my opinion it all evolves from dance be in in a nightclub, in an ashram on yoga mat or in the privacy of your own home, because people love to move and all people appreciate moments of stillness. In every culture , babies, whether the product of arranged marriage or not, dance when they hear music, from birth we are inspired by rhythm and yoga to me is a form of embodied rhythm with philosophies that encourage people to dedicate themselves to a practice. Not to be disrespectful to your cultural concerns or you trying to convince me by telling me that it not rascism you're expressing, I will tell you I am not being culturally insensitive ( do you believe me?) My question after reading your article, is now what do you do to feed your spirit and move your body? thanks for sharing your evolution.

  26. Alayiy says:

    Great article!!! I absolutely agree. You can sell any trend to mass media hypnotized Americans as well as to the americanized Europeans.
    But especially Americans are unbelievably stupid when it comes to history and culture of other countries and religions. Some even ask Europeans if they already have tap water in their countries, no wonder they have no clue about the British and what they did to India. Mind you these dumbed down people don´t even know their own history – they tend to believe in historic tv propaganda lies………………….I think this speaks volumes.
    Yoga is connected to religion and regional culture and that´s something the bored trophy wife and average New Age idiot doesn´t know about and trying to learn or find out about it would just be too much trouble.
    For lazy Americans things have to be fun, easy and convenient. That´s all you can expect. The modern American eco-idiot as well as the European eco-idiot is happy to believe anything you tell him/her about mother earth, spirituality and exercise. They go to Ashrams and are too stupid to see that they´re just ripped off.

  27. Carey says:

    It is interesting how some of you who have replied are attacking the author's personality by suggesting that she may be angry, resentful, etc. What those of you are in fact doing is treating the author as the problem rather than focusing objectively at the problem she brings to you about what's happening with Yoga.

    When you label the author as the problem rather than address the real problem, you are in fact “victimizing“ the author. It is very common for people to do so when they do not wish to hear or like what the author has to say…or people tend to label the ethnic minority as the problem rather than giving her words merit (some of you are trivializing her views because of who she is).

  28. Cary says:

    Some people are insensitive to visible minorities and think they can just shut out their feelings of be treated insignificantly. It is also apparent by some of the replies here where some of you trivialize Irasna's concerns, because those of you have been part of a majority culture and have no understanding of what it means to be frequently "marginalized" that it instills fear in a person and discomfort with being a minority. Those who "have" become so self-absorbed in their enjoyment of life and their egos that any threat to their happiness is treated as an unwanted intrusion, that they cannot or do not wish to empathize with or have compassion for those who "have not". It is why doing Yoga is a humbling practice, to break those egos so people can look at and within themselves and see those cold-hearted inhumane and undesirable traits. There is a tremendous amount of truth in Irasna's article for which some may never understand because some people have immovable ceilings to enlightenment. Some people are missing the point of the article, which highlights the superficiality of the Western culture which views themselves as superior, yet lacks the depth of understanding of foreign traditions and Yoga.

  29. Lisa Piaser says:

    Hmm.. Okay, so I see that we have determined that yoga is not all good or all bad. I would assume that to be a true statement on just about everything. Anyway, with that said, I started a yoga community about 2 years ago in Rural Ohio. I can assure you, I am not getting rich. I love our farmhouse that has been converted into a small yoga studio. I love the people that come there and am not concerned if they are vegan, or christian, or whatever. Live your life, enjoy your gift, and reach out to those that are around you. One never knows their effect on this world, but be assured there is one. Why not make it a positive one?

  30. 2_tsp says:

    Excellent piece. Love. You've eloquently verbalized some of my deep seated irritations with Western yoga as an elitist, competitive, shallow f*&^ fest. Fortunately, my practice keeps me coming back to my mat in whatever studio I find myself, surrounded by tiny shorts and even smaller awareness.

  31. natula says:

    I've been living in the Middle East for nearly 10 years among 'real Indians' as you call them and I can't imagine anyone of them being as blatantly rude and self centered as you come across in your ego/ethnocentric article. In fact, they happily donned my freckled body in a beautiful saree for a wedding recently and no one including myself thought I looked ridiculous. Come on. You sound bitter.

  32. Anna says:

    Whoa, this misses the point entirely on what yoga is. As someone rooted strongly in my practice, this article causes my whole body to tense up. Maybe yoga is not for you. If it doesn't open up your heart and light up your soul, it just might not be. There are plenty of other things to do. Yoga is sacred. It's a practice of self discovery, totally independent of any one of these negative things on your punch list. To me this reads like a list of judgements and an entrapment of the thinking mind. You have yet to EXPERIENCE what yoga is for yourself. And whatever you look for, you will surely find. Bad yoga studios, bad teachers, bad whatever. The practice has opened my heart and I've followed it. It has changed my life. We absolutely need the light AND the dark. The obvious and the mystery. We need the good and the bad. It's just a matter of where you place your awareness.

  33. Desi and proud says:

    westerners did not bring yoga to the west. indian yogis brought yoga to the west. racist comments like this are why this woman wrote this article in the first place.

    and have you ever been to india? why are you insulting the place? your comment is hateful and even more of a crock of cow shit than the article, which i didn't even like.

    i'm an indian woman who has grown up all over the world though mostly in the US. i have had moments (years) where i disliked white people in indian garb or getting involved in traditionally indian things because many white people have this annoying habit (hello, does colonial legacy mean anything to you?) of unapologetically appropriating other peoples cultures.

    in saying that, i do think that this author is complaining and overly generalizing and that there are many many things that she could do to remedy the issues she has with the practice in the west. be the change you want to see in the world, right? i also agree with some of the comments above about this article focusing on material issues when all people in the world are one.

    but your comment is unwarranted and hateful. take a look at yourself before criticizing others.

  34. Rita Kirkpatrick says:

    Since you took offense to the article, you must know that its about people like you.

  35. Lakshmi says:

    Thank you for this!!

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