Is Shooting a Gun Like Yoga? ~ Caitlin Talbot

Via elephant journal
on Apr 22, 2013
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Yoga is not passive, it is not weak, it is a strong and steady walk towards freedom.

Recently at a bar in Hollywood, a well-known actor thought it would be enticing for me to hear about his love for guns. In any normal circumstance I would have left my bar stool to find a friend, but I had to hear him out—his sentiments in favor of the 2nd Amendment were such a rare species on this side of the world.

He began espousing his rank as the NRA’s number one celebrity spokesperson and said we should have guns—all of us—not just because it is fun and “like yoga” but because it is our responsibility.

By this time he knew that I was a yoga teacher and anti-gun. In a bizarre mix of wooing and bombarding me with pistol propaganda, the actor told me I should come to a shooting range with him because “shooting was just like yoga—meditative.”

I swallowed hard. This was going to be interesting.

I said, “Yeah, um, not so much.

Yoga is deeply embedded in non-violence.

Even the Warrior (Virabhadrasana) is grounded and without weaponry—other than a penetrating gaze—and the Hero (Virasana) is seated in a vulnerable, non-confrontational position.

When this explanation didn’t work he encouraged me to teach partner yoga classes that could be filmed and that he would help produce. Suddenly, the gun conversation turned from bullets to erotic yoga. Not surprisingly, I discovered he wasn’t so well informed on the benefits of yoga.

If he had been he would not have turned so fire red when I suggested his love for guns was fear-based. His overly loud remarks would not have turned into menacing whispers in my ear from which I had to pull away. The seemingly innocuous bar conversation began to take a more threatening tone, a la Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois.

But having read A Streetcar Named Desire a number of times I knew better. If anything, I wanted to find my Kim Novack pistol and tell him to back off.

But that would have escalated the violence; he would have grabbed my arm, twisted it, said something about that being a “yogic move” and I would have fallen defeated.

Instead, I did get up to greet a friend and found again how yoga is absolutely not like guns. Yoga is not passive, it is not weak, it is a strong and steady walk towards freedom; freedom from violence and freedom from fear.


CaitlinTalbotCaitlin Talbot is a redwood-loving yoga instructor in Los Angeles opening Hollywood Power Yoga this summer. She is also an actress/producer and hails from San Francisco, lived in New York and has family from South Africa.






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Assistant Ed: Stephanie V./Kate Bartolotta


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5 Responses to “Is Shooting a Gun Like Yoga? ~ Caitlin Talbot”

  1. Philippa Helen says:

    An interesting encounter between a writer and an actor, two yoga devotees with markedly different philosophical views. Yoga and non-violence are the name of the game. Yoga and guns are diametrically opposed. People without guns and other weapons have much less capacity for harming others. Decreasing access to guns will inevitably decrease killings. Lets do what we can. Yoga is practiced to create peace and well-being.

  2. Dan says:

    I struggle a bit with this notion that guns and yoga are absolutely diametrically opposed. While I do not own a gun nor shoot one to kill, I do think knowing how to handle a gun safely is an invaluable skill. And non-violence is not pacifism. Would I act aggressively – but with compassion and empathy – toward an aggressor who is abusing someone? Very probably.

  3. Gun-totin' yogi says:

    *Gun ownership* is not passive, it is not weak, it is a strong and steady walk towards freedom; freedom from violence and freedom from fear.

    Those of us who carry guns for personal protection don't carry them to initiate violence. We carry them to stop the violence initiated by others. Only in this way can we actually achieve freedom from violence and fear.

  4. John says:

    I love yoga, and a carry a gun (law enforcement). I see no conflict between the two. The use of firearms, and the practice of yoga require the same discipline: being present, focus and (ideally) breath control.

    It is also a bit bigoted to assume that gun ownership/use indicates fear or a love of violence. In the larger sense (especially in this country), it is acceptance. There are 300 million guns here, and they are never going away. I practice acceptance of this, and I do not seek to harm anyone.

  5. alvaro says:

    The Bhagavad-Gita, which teaches about the spiritual aspect of yoga in great detail, was taught on the battlefield, during a civil war. While some will say that this outer battlefield is a metaphor for an inner struggle, which is true, that an outer battle was involved is clear from many historical records from ancient India. Krishna, the great yoga teacher, encouraged his disciple Arjuna, who was a great warrior, to fight, though Arjuna was reluctant and wanted to follow a way of non-violence instead. Why did Krishna encourage Arjuna to fight?

    There are two main types of ahimsa in the Yoga tradition. The first is ahimsa as a spiritual principle, that followed by monks, yogis and sadhus, which involves non-violence on all levels. The second is ahimsa as a political principle, the ahimsa of the warrior or the Kshatriya, that is followed by those who govern and protect society, which allows the use of violence to counter evil forces in the world, including to protect spiritual people, who often cannot defend themselves and become easy targets for worldly people. Krishna taught this Kshatriya ahimsa to Arjuna for the benefit of future generations. Sages before Krishna also taught this, like Vishvamitra who taught Rama and Lakshmana to destroy the evil forces that were persecuting spiritual people, so it is a very old tradition of India. – David Frawley