Behind the Face of Yoga for Cynics. ~ Mary King

Via elephant journal
on Oct 30, 2012
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Interview with Dr. Jay, creator of the popular blog, Yoga for Cynics.

Mary: Hi Jay! Thanks for your interest in our interview series. To get started, I like to begin with something easy: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Jay: Today I was buying a cable for my internet connection and the guy selling it to me asked if I wanted to buy a three year warranty. I said no, and he told me that, actually, he could let me have the warranty for free if he said I was a college student. I said, “I’m always learning.”

At one time, I taught college writing to Ivy League students during the day, and maximum security prisoners in the evening, and, while I certainly liked both groups, preferred the prisoners. Now, I teach yoga at a homeless shelter and reading and writing at a residential rehab for women, as well as working as a professional writer and editor.

I write a blog called Yoga for Cynics, though, lately, things have been rather quiet over there, as well as reviews and the occasional rant for elephant journal.

I love walking barefoot, Walt Whitman, Pigeon Pose, biking, Miles Davis, rocky coastlines, Indian buffets, Vincent Van Gogh, Cate Blanchett, the Clash, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Michelle Obama, Ikea chairs, chocolate covered Oreos, Gilda Radner, the new Dylan album, Breaking Bad, my mother, Light in August, the Nicoya Peninsula, Apocalypse, Now, Joan Miro, Joni Mitchell, mountains, sarcasm, friendship, the Velvet Underground, floppy-eared dogs, Virginia Woolf, the high desert, trees, ratty but comfortable t-shirts, that first cup of coffee in the morning, The Brothers Karamazov, masturbation, Beethoven’s 9th, Jon Stewart, supta baddha konasana, Nina Simone’s version of “O-o-h Child,” kale smoothies with or without tequila, and probably a couple of other things I can’t think of right now.

Mary: I feel honored that I was one of the first emails you sent after getting an internet connection.

Tell me more about Yoga for Cynics. How did you get started with it? What’s the plan for it? Why the slowdown?

Jay: Four years ago, I went on a yoga and writing retreat in Mexico. Previously, I’d concentrated my more creative energies as a writer on fiction, and seen more non-fictional personal writing as, y’know, personal, and really hadn’t drawn any connections between writing and yoga. That changed on the retreat, in the midst of endless beach walks and enchiladas de mole, and I found myself pursuing a different kind of writing.

Around this same time I created a professional website to promote my professional writing and editing work, as well as my unpublished novel, since that was what various resources said I should do. The same resources said I should start a blog. I’d made an attempt or two at that—including one that actually made it online, though I didn’t promote it at all and eventually took it down—made up of angry political rants. But, while angry political rants certainly have their place, and it’d be all too easy to get up, read the news, drink my coffee and write one every morning, somehow I didn’t think that was something the interwebs had any shortage of.

At the same time, if I was going to write about yoga, or write “yogic-ly,” I wanted to keep it real, warts and all, rather than pushing the kind of anti-intellectual forced positivity that’s so popular in the yoga world. So, basically, two and two came together, and Yoga for Cynics was born. Ultimately, it ended up eclipsing my more professionally oriented website, which went neglected until a friend offered to overhaul it recently. Lately, it seems like there’s so much negativity in the yoga blogosphere, I’m almost coming around to the opposite position—trying to keep what I post reasonably positive (even if there’s some snarky humor involved), while the “my yoga’s better than yours” wars go on, elsewhere. I’m not as sure as I was of exactly what the purpose of Yoga for Cynics is…but maybe that’s how it should be. I’ve always been more interested in ambiguities that capital-T truths.

Mary: Wow!

You mention an unpublished book…what’s the story with that? What’s your major project at this point in your life?

Jay: My novel is called Drifter’s Escape. It’s a kind of unconventional murder story told by multiple narrators. I’d like to get it published in the near future.

At the moment, I’m trying to focus a bit more on making a living, as well as coming up with a new creative project. I’d also like to meet a smart, kind, open-minded woman with a sense of humor and good health insurance plan. Have I mentioned that I’m a tall, athletic guy with broad shoulders who enjoys snuggling, moonlit walks on the beach and talking about feelings?

Mary: Hear that ladies?!

Jay, thank you so much for doing this interview. Best of luck to you.

Jay: Luck? Isn’t that one of those things people in the yoga world don’t believe in? Like coincidences, or poor people?

Just kidding. Thank you.


Mary King is a recovering corporate hardhead. After accumulating a few years of running injuries, she stumbled into a hot yoga studio. “These people are insane!” she thought, but her stubbornness prevailed, and she was soon hooked without any clear idea how it had happened. She recently certified in a 200-hour teacher training program and is growing comfortable with the idea that it might take two million hours to understand how yoga works. Through this journey she is learning to love life and, slowly, herself. Mary is a woman with incurable curiosity and wanderlust, an avid reader, and the best aunt in the whole wide world.


Editor: Elysha A.


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10 Responses to “Behind the Face of Yoga for Cynics. ~ Mary King”

  1. greateacher says:

    Thank you for writing this. Very interesting.

  2. carolhortonbooks says:

    Another great interview! Thanks.

  3. Excellent interview, makes me wish I had a friend for the good doctor!

  4. Nice to get to know a bit about you, Jay. I haven't found you to be overly cynical and had wondered why you called yourself Yoga for Cynics. Now I'm wondering about the kale smoothies with or without tequila. That's where I'd start if I was interviewing you.

  5. Fred on Bald Hill says:

    Never confuse sarcasm with realism…. I know you better Dr. Jay….

  6. You mean you'd ask me about them, or we'd have some while you were interviewing me, or both?

  7. Wouldn't think of it…though I'll leav it to you to decide whether I'm being sarcastic or realistic in saying that…

  8. Well at the risk of exposing my pickiness about food; you couldn't pay me to drink a kale smoothie or any whipped up greens any more than I would eat them liquified at the bottom of the old produce bag. I couldn't pretend carob was an acceptable substitute for chocolate either. So I figure anyone drinking a kale smoothie is doing it for health reasons which makes the tequila questionable. See? I find you enigmatic for this. But I would definitely do shots with you while discussing our idiosyncracies.

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