Blind Faith & Anusara: Ain’t Nuthin Wrong with Yoga—It’s User Error.

Via Hilary Lindsay
on Apr 20, 2012
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Whenever I think the computer is trying to f*ck me up and kill my time my husband assures me that it is user error.

The computer is intuitive. I am not using it correctly. Maybe I just shouldn’t use it because we are not aligned in this timeline, this space continuum, this energetic bubble. But everyone uses a computer; I need to get on board. What if I am left behind alone in a vacuum of stupid?

Now, you thought of doing yoga because everyone’s doing yoga and it’s the new black for Chrissakes but look at all the press about yoga that indicates that yoga is full of douche bags who would probably follow Charles Manson if he had a harmonium and yoga is full of sex fetishists and holy rollers and it will kill your body and it might cost you your savings. If you don’t do yoga you will be left behind. Do yoga and you will possibly become one of the douche bags even if you are dying to look hot in yoga clothes, even though you are looking for an excuse to brand yourself with that sexy tattoo like your friend has.

Yoga is a set of beliefs that come with a toolbox. How you use it is subjective.

There are different sets of directions depending on what company you buy it from. There are different architects who will direct you on how to build your house. So you might have directions from one of Krishnamacharya’s students who will teach you Iyengar, Astanga or Viniyoga and you might have directions from a Sikh leader on Kundalini and you might have directions from Sivananda’s crowd and so on. So your yoga will look different even though it comes from the same set of beliefs with the same tools.

Of course you may choose to hammer with your screw driver and you may use your screwdriver as a can opener and you may use the nails as scrapers. Or you may be that creative kid who made Legos without following directions at all.

And maybe you made a summer camp bunkhouse and you invited the color squad in but you also got the creepy counselor sneaking in at night.

And now you don’t like what you built and you don’t like your life in it. But your friend has one and so you bought it too and so (if your friend jumped off a cliff…).

But what you built doesn’t change Yoga.

She’s hiding behind the door giggling at this latest dust up. She has a carving of three monkeys on her desk depicting ‘hear no evil see no evil do no evil’ that was a gift from her cousin Buddha but she knows that’s not the way. She’s sitting up there on your dashboard next to plastic Jesus reading church signs, looking at yoga studios.

She knows that all eyes are turned to one bloviated fallen yoga folk hero but the story just begins there. She knows that overshadowed old school teachers cloaked in the white of their Eastern sisters have sent their flying monkeys forth to stir the wind and set things right. Some have been sacrificed for the cause but what the heck, it’s in Yoga’s name; or is it? She knows that where there’s smoke there’s fire but small fires burn unnoticed.

Yoga doesn’t care, doesn’t need your opinion, and doesn’t die one single death because someone misunderstood her.

She is a system, not a pep rally, she is a philosophy, not dogma, and she is a tool, a thought, a guide, a memory. Numbers don’t impress her. She does not exist for the poll takers. Half a million born again in the name of one architect or another is just a nag champa smokescreen.

Someone once told me that Judaism was not for kids. It’s too complicated. They get the allegories but can’t understand the depth. And yoga is the same way. You can make it Mommy and me playtime, you can turn it into summer camp, you can sing about it, tell stories, memorize her language but you don’t get her just because you studied her in school.

Not everyone needs the same set of beliefs though everyone has to believe in something. We have the same rules cause that’s the thing about rules; they have to apply to everyone but they may not be chiseled on the same tablet. Yoga may not be the practice that suits your lifestyle but if you try it and it doesn’t work, try a different direction or forget it but don’t blame the yoga. It’s user error.

I’ve waded through an army of yoga teachers over thirty years never stopping to set up camp. The idea was to learn, not to pitch a tent. I don’t understand the student who complains about the teacher, the teachings, and the trappings. Assimilate what they have to teach you and move on for God’s sake.

When did yoga become the place for people to get stupid? Can’t we do that in enough other places?

I did not stay for one second longer or engage in anything but learning with teachers who perfumed the air with arrogance or irony. Many famous teachers are self deceptive power trippers and who cares. Come for the education. They studied where you did not. Then get out and use what you know to add to your practice or share with others. Anything else is something else. I wouldn’t pay one minute of attention to a teacher who told me what I could or could not think or do.

Why would you?

When yoga goes wrong it’s a good indication that people are thinking wrong. We have enough of that already. Yoga used to be a method to go against that grain. What if we get on board yoga so we won’t be left alone in a vacuum of stupid and we end up in a cloud of stupid’s dysfunctional family? Seems like a lot of sorrow to me.


Editor Tanya L. Markul

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About Hilary Lindsay

Hilary Lindsay created the first comprehensive yoga program in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, choreographed videos for athletes, introduced yoga and meditation to the Nashville public school system and continues to work one on one with private clients including the Nashville Predators. She has been covered by popular magazines and television shows and has worked for a variety of publications as a yoga expert. She authored a chapter in Yoga In America, a book published at the forefront of the discussion among yoga teachers about contemporary yoga in America. Additional writing can be found at as well as the Journal pages of her yoga site. Hilary teaches classes and workshops in consciousness through movement. Her medium is yoga. Her method is exploring the language of the body in light of the eight limbs. Find her at


13 Responses to “Blind Faith & Anusara: Ain’t Nuthin Wrong with Yoga—It’s User Error.”

  1. mytwocents says:

    Someone once told me this about my synagogue….stop bitching about it. Take what you like and go find what's missing somewhere else. Stop blaming the rabbi. People follow people because they haven't learned how to listen to themselves and know when to follow what their heart is saying. I can be in the room with a horrible yoga teacher, but if I know MY practice it doesn't matter. Their voice is just mixed in with the rest of the bullshit I don't pay attention to and I just do my practice. Thanks Hilary for nailing it on the head again.

  2. sharonna says:

    Nag Champa smokescreen! I love that. Can I use it? As always bloody brilliant, entertaining and insightful. Seems other civilized countries around the world 'get it" no matter what the message, practice, politic etc but Yanks love to turn everything into a trendy ink stained fashion statement (oh the poor perilous lymphatic system) instead of walking the walk sometimes. I miss Rebel Yoga. When you gonna start the Yoga Rebellion? We need a revolution don't you think….like a real one in the streets with signs and chanting and merriment and activism……ahhhh the good ole days. Lets call John Stewart and pitch it. He can help make it happen.

  3. I hadn't realized the extent of yoga group-think until recently. I hope this post helps someone to think about what they are doing. And I greatly appreciate you adding your 'twocents' to the discussion!

  4. Spoken like a true Brit. Yes you can use anything I put here and I'm glad to have something to offer so thank you. I know your Mum and Jon are beach buddies. So, let's let her pitch it. Maybe we can at least go to his next rally and not do yoga poses publicly.

  5. __MikeG__ says:

    Great post. I've kept out of the debate about Mr. Friend because I never cared for Anusara. But reading the posts my conclusion was that the deification of Mr. Friend was the real issue. I never understood it but hero worship has never been my thing.

    BTW, your husband is wrong. Your computer definitely is trying to fuck you up. I am a professional computer programmer and I know that computers hate people. I am the guru so you must trust me.

    Hugs from a fellow Nashvillian.

  6. First of all, the hugs from a fellow Nashvillian have made my day. And your command to trust the guru of computers is really funny because in that realm, I trust you already despite writing a piece here called "Bind Faith". Thank you,

    I was secretly sure of the computer's malfeasance and malevolence both. For example, I have changed the date and time on this computer every day for three days and it's certain that it will always make up both randomly as soon as I look away. And I just looked at Elephant's counter which said that a whopping 5 people had clicked 'like' on this post and now it says '3'. I am a fan of irony so I'll take the laugh.

    Yes, I also think that the followers are the issue. They are followers not prisoners. He started something but they held the space. Now if we could just figure out how to delete that insecurity we might be on to something. All the best…

  7. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  8. yvonne says:

    GREAT! I love it!

  9. Thanks for reading, Yvonne. All the best to you.

  10. Great post…..I totally agree…..

  11. Heather, I wasn't sure anyone would agree at all but I'm glad to know there are like minded yogis. Thanks for letting me know and for reading.

  12. […] pleased with “Blind Faith and Anusara” because no one was talking about the student’s complicity in that mess, and I had a strong […]