National Yoga Asana Championship, Really?!?

Yes, really.  

Ahhh..the newest NYtimes article is out! Go team Bikram! As I finished the article, Even Smiles Count, However Exacting the Competition I have to wonder what’s next in the yoga world?

Yoga Cage fighting? 

photo by Aine D

I’m not really sure where to begin. I’m also not sure how many more meditative mantra filled sit downs I can induce with my beloved harmonium to deal with a few things that are on my mind.

It’s just cooky out there in the yoga world!

I know everyone who is a “real” yogi from the Westernized world is running off to India to get their “real” enlightenment from some authentic Guru that they heard from a friend of a friend of a friend was the real deal. The salvation to their sufferings.

The skeptic in me still has to ask again, Really? Is it really that much better in India ( a country where a cast system still exists )?

You want a Guru? Give up that trip to India and go visit my new friend Amelia Patterson in downtown L.A.

Amelia donates her time to a human rights law firm. She doesn’t hold a law degree and she certainly doesn’t have a job most would deem fancy. It is, however, unbelievably necessary and way more useful than winning a Yoga Asana Championship or a trip to India to become enlightened.

My friend has the tedious job of preparing the enormous amount of paper work that allows women who have been raped, tortured and abused in their country to become safe and legal in this country. She recently shared a story with me about a 14 year-old child in India who was flogged to death after her 37 year-old cousin raped her.  ( Sadly, my friend has thousands of these stories from India, Nigeria, the Congo and too many other countries. )

And you know what? Most of these women are trying to escape their world to come here for a better life.

These abused women go to my friend Amelia for salvation. Their enlightenment would be a life without female circumcision. A life that eliminates flogging when your cousin rapes you. A life without fear.

While many yogis and non-yogi’s are trying to go to places like India for salvation, maybe it’s time we started spending a little less money, less time looking outside ourselves and started doing what yoga and meditation was meant to do.

Look inside. Investigate and eliminate the place where all our poisonous behaviors begin. In the mind.

Don’t get me wrong. The U.S.A certainly has it’s problems too ( and they are way more prevalent than John Friend, the creator of Anusara yoga and his “sexcapades” )!  Women, especially the type of women I mentioned above,  are sold into sex slavery in this country way too often. But still, I can’t remember the last time I read in the NYtimes or LAtimes, a child being flogged to death in a public arena after being raped in this country. ( I guess, it’s all relative and viscerally horrendous).

The point is, Yoga and meditation can heal the heart, the soul and the body-mind. It can teach us how to put self-power back into lives so we can make better, healthier and less costly choices ( financial and emotional cost).

So, grab your yoga mat.  Sit down, close your eyes and start breathing.  The answers you seek are inside of you and can only be found there. But in order to do so, you must silence the mind.

Photo by Ron Sombilon Gallery- Yoga Asana Championships

I have to give Bikram kudos for creating one of the largest and well known yoga chains in the world. As a businessman he is either a sheer genius or got really lucky. Either way, in this arena he has my utmost respect. Both he and his wife Rajashree come from a background where yoga competitions were the norm…in that idealized, enlightened place called India.

Where Yoga was once perceived by many as a  vedic science, an enhancement to one’s life, a way to de-stress…Bikram and Rajashree have changed it into a competitive sport. Yay team Bikram!

Do we really want to walk away from a yoga practice or life with more aches and pains?  With a child-like-ego-fueled smile that says “at least I’m a winner of a yoga competition” ?

“I’m exhausted mentally and physically,” McCann said, grinning. “My left toe is numb and I’ve got some kind of back spasm.” He paused before adding, “There’s always something.”  FYI…McCann is the winner of the National Yoga Asana Competition.

I’m exhausted too, McCann! Exhausted from all the Yoga B.S. I’ve been reading so much of lately.  I’d prefer to read a few more featured NYtimes articles on the heroic actions of Amelia or those like her.

My friend Jennifer and I

My beloved Jennifer Howell spends her time “enlightening” the lives of children in hospitals who are suffering from fatal or near fatal illnesses. She brings various artistic workshops that include,music,  acting, painting, drawing, and so much more to these children in need.  Scott Neeson, a former yogi, who traveled to Cambodia for enlightenment. After hiking, wandering and photographing some amazing Buddhas he found his salvation in saving the thousands of children living in the garbage dumps of that country.

These articles would be way more interesting and purposeful then how Yoga has been twisted by a few confused souls. But what do I know?  As I said in my article, Yogi Master or Sexual Disaster,

” I’m just another yogi with a laptop and opinion.”

At least I don’t have back spasms, a numb toe and a trophy to show for it. Thankfully, I’ll always have a good sense of humor too( Except when it comes to human rights issues).


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