Thursday, March 08, 2012

Free-Range Yoga *cluck, cluck*

I've kept my mouth shut (fingers still?) on all the latest scandals, slanders, and fuss--partially because I don't have anything new to say and partially because a lot of it seems to be about generating hype.  I don't want to contribute to any more ill-deserved page hits.  

However, with each new revelation, I'm struck by how much Big Yoga is starting to resemble Big Ag.  You would think people so concerned with health and what they do to their bodies would embrace local, sustainable models for their yoga like, I assume, they do with their veggies.

Instead, there seems to be a drive to incorporate, brand, and standardize the practice in order to deliver a sleek, well-muscled, high-fructose Yoga ready for market in nine short weeks.  Fast, cheap, mass-produced spirituality available at your nearest yoga franchise.

Where's the farmers' market version of yoga--lovingly grass-fed, allowed to graze and develop naturally in a small herd, led by an independent farmer?  A bit more expensive, maybe, a bit more variation in quality--but, all in all, healthier, safer, and, as I said before, more sustainable.

The food poisoning outbreaks of the last few years in the yoga world seem closely tied to production practices: powerful executives, unquestioning producers, self-directed quality control, and a fixation on the bottom line.  We should be community-based and student-centered.  We should celebrate our local studios and support individual teachers.  We should encourage a yoga that meets the need of many students, not just the urban and the leisured.  

And while I love the energy of (some of) the internet community, this is ultimately a practice of human interaction and personal contact.  Let's stay in touch with our own neck of the woods, even as we inform our practice with connections around the world.  A teacher needs to know and see her students--no microphone necessary.  A student needs to receive personal attention and have an interactive relationship with her teacher and  class--no numbered mats in a giant conference hall.


If anything is learned from this winter's shenanigans, it is that yoga needs to get small again.  Not to withdraw or detach from the larger community, but to bring the focus back to the personal level.  To cool it with the corporate crap and the fast buck.  Let's stop admiring superficial beauty and return to the essential and internal (sorry, not Olympic event material).


I want my yoga like I want my chickens...free-range, but with access to a tidy coop with protection from foxes.  Eggs with big orange yolks. 

(that last bit of that metaphor is open for interpretation--but it's what I like!) 

The girls at Grass is Greener Gardens--making my eggs for this week...

23 comments:

Nan said...

Well said!

Amber Lee said...

what a lovely metaphor. thanks :)

Y is for Yogini said...

yes. yes. and more yes. small is good. it doesn't have to be glittery or fast-track gluttony.

quiet, strong, steady, simple. let the rabbits do their thing. we turtles will do ours. :)

heather said...

Perfectly said.

Anonymous said...

Brenda ~

Love it. Well said. May I have permission to post an excerpt on my blog, crediting you, and link to your blog?

Brenda P. said...

@Anon--probably, send me a link!

Danielle said...

fantastic post! very well said

Cheri P Murman said...

Love it too! Well said. I think most of us that have keep our mouths shut and fingers still(although I did write one little thing)realize what yoga is, it is about the close personal relationship with our students and not about branding, naming or otherwise 'incorporating' it.
Great read!

Shawna said...

Hear hear! I love the farmers market version of yoga (and your whole analogy). Being an independent farmer myself, sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the direction that yoga is going in. I need to continue to remind myself to be proud to be local and keep my attention focused on my little community and reach, no matter how small it may be. Great post!

Eco Yogini said...

I'm coming a little late to this- but YES YES YES! Love this post :)

YogaforCynics said...

My yoga's been small all along--and that'ss what I told my Anusara-inspired teacher when she expressed her embarrassment about the whole mess: I was benefiting greatly from her class long before I ever heard of John Friend, and I continue to.

office 2010 download said...

Good poem. It's inspring. We should love life and ourselves for every miniute.

Erik said...

I have been practicing for years mostly on my own, then wanted to get into teaching to share my knowledge so I went to get certified at one of the big core chains. because it was cheapest option.

wow it really turned me off to yoga corporate, comparisons competitive judgmental superficial. ugly

yoga is really getting a bad name fast.

if the acient yogis saw what is going on with there teachings I think they would be disgusted with what they see

Sara said...

Excellent post. I love my small-town, community-minded studio where I both received training and where I teach. However, I also love that there are other teachers out there who put their knowledge to paper (and video) so I can learn from those outside of my pond. I know I benefit from outside learning and I believe my students do too. Thanks for the thoughtful post and the call to action by living and teaching with integrity.

Joanne said...

Well said. I'm not much into trends and fashion which seems to have crept into most aspects of life. Follow good ideas and don't worry about the personalities.

Joanne said...

Well stated. I'm not much into trends and fashions which seems to have crept into most aspects of life these days. Follow good ideas not the personalities.

Eve said...

As a former food writer turned yoga teacher, I'm struck by the aptness of your analogy.
I once interviewed a salmon "farmer" who said that in 10 years, farmed salmon would be as common as what he called "the chicken product."
Yikes!
Right now what's really common is depleted wild stocks caused, apparently, by the viruses and sea lice that flourish in fish farms.
The whole big, glitzy, scandal-ridden yoga world is so far away from the true cultivation of yoga, passing directly from one individual to another.
Thank you for giving me a new way of thinking about my small, local, independent studio.

Laurie said...

I love this post - very well said. It's funny how quickly w our practices can get distracted by the hype of yoga world at large instead of the simple and profound daily practice on the mat.

Y is for Yogini said...

i miss your posts, lady. come back to us! :D xo

Erin said...

Truly fabulously said!! This is why I love teaching in Brooklyn at the studio around the corner from my house. I am teaching my neighbors: from long time Brooklyn residents to hipsters! It is like going to the CSA you never know what that basket is going to be but you wait all week to see what you get to cook :)

Erin said...

Fabulously said!! This is why I love teaching in Brooklyn at the studio around the corner from my house. I teach long time residents to hipsters and they are all my neighbors!! It is like going to the CSA, you never know what is going to be in the basket but you wait excitedly all week to see what you are going to cook!!

Carrie said...

Great post :) The same analogy can be applied to so many things.

happiness said...

Good one...