March 12, 2012

Dear Yoga to the People: What are you thinking?! ~ Ben Crosky

Photo: Yoga to the People

An Open Letter to Yoga to The People and their Devotees: Answer me this!

I want to love you because I think there is something amazing happening, and I’m almost there, but I just can’t get past these few questions. Can you explain yourself so that I can come join in the fun and stop being so judgmental?

 1.Why are the announcements made in that wonderful sacred space right before Sivasana?

We spend all practice (normally) trying to create a moving meditation so that when we finally sit we can soak in some peace, quiet and harmony. But you sabotage that by filling my mind with upcoming teacher training dates and specials and fundraising goals! Why?!

2. Why no closing out the practice together honoring ourselves and the teacher? And for that matter why no beginning to class either

I felt like there was no motion to create a safe and sacred space distinguished from the rest of the world. Are we really starting class with a line to the bathroom in between our yoga mats? Yes.

3. Why are we walking around people and talking and changing and comotioning while people are still in Sivasana? 

I left the class feeling rude and watching others actually being rude to those who had the audacity to think that Sivasana is supposed to be more than a 30 second pause in sexual noise. I think I saw a couple of hands even get stepped on.

4. Why did I feel like I was practicing an ancient tradition on a backed-up LA freeway?

What ever happened to moving with grace? Wasn’t yoga first practiced in the solitude of the forest?

Yoga does not only involve “letting go of all your shit with a noise caught between aggressive and sexual and almost always sounding forced.” Noise pollution is real, and Yoga to the People in Berkeley is the only place where there is more noise pollution inside the class than out on the street.

5.  What’s up with the anxiety inducing singing bowl?

I thought there was an earthquake. Others started to move around me in anticipation of an explosion. We are not impressed by your singing bowl ability,  yoga girl. At least explain to us what is going to happen and why, I’m down for anything unless it is a simulated subway crash at the end of Sivasana.

6. Why are classes so close together?

I feel like cattle being herded into a slaughterhouse. Like I’m entering union station during rush hour. Give us 5 minutes to clear out eh?

7. Why on earth to you spell out H A???

I cannot express this any other way but: what on earth are you thinking?!

8.  Again why is everyone making sexual noises?

I’m confused.

9. Why didn’t you explain why we were doing anything?

(Besides that it feels good to let go…) The beauty of yoga is that it is a constant practice, but when you don’t explain a single thing it makes it nearly impossible to implement any of it effectively outside of the studio. Is that the plan? Make ‘em dependent so they keep coming back?

10. Why does everyone like this so much when to me it represents what’s wrong with our society?

(Surface level interaction in small digestible feel good doses no matter how unauthentic, uninteresting or self involved it really is.  Supporting things because they are cheap or free over those that offer honest substance to the world) When I ask people why they love YTP they say it’s free! So is all that stuff on the side of the road that homeless people don’t even want! Be discerning people! (Or explain it to me please).

11.  Where is the undying curiosity and exploration of something deeper that yoga represents?

We can all agree on different reasons for the existence of yoga, but all traditions share a common thread of curiosity, of digging deeper, exploring, practicing, finding the edge and finding balance, experimenting. Where on earth was any of that?

12.  Lastly and again, why are there so many people in your classes?

And if the answer is simply because it is free, or donation based, then I ask you, Yoga to the People people, why are you wasting such an unbelievable opportunity to spread the goodness of yoga to such a fresh young audience, with what is at most a somewhat sweaty workout with uninspiring instructors and bad choices like spelling out the word H A?

I’m very open to loving you, Yoga to the People, and I almost do. Donation-based yoga always has my respect, so I very much look forward to hearing your answers.

Should I even bother closing out this letter?

Be well,



Editor: Kate Bartolotta.



Ben Crosky leads unique yoga adventures around the world.  Ben is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but good luck finding him there! Instead, join him and his team of world renowned teachers on one of their upcoming trips in 2012: http://solyogatrips.com

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