Yoga is Dangerous. Part I. • 23 March 2007

I’ve felt bad about having nothing to say this week, apart from a couple of small-hearted posts from the sidelines—rather than the thick of—existence. MK suggests my brittleness relates to my nightstand companion Nicholas Mosely, who “who exists only to make a few failed writers feel superior, while boring the living shit out of the rest of us who are supposed to like him despite his lack of humor or prose sense or, frankly, any of the materials of good fiction other than intelligence, attentiveness, and erudition.”

Thank you, MK. I thought it was just the tiny pointsize making my brow furrow. My painful 18-year inculcation into the protestant ethic (a.k.a. “childhood”) brought the mandate to finish every book I begin. (This develops character.) Whatever. As if we have time for that. Forlorn for some old friend with a giant heart, I had breakfast with Whitehead. God yes. It doesn’t have to be fiction to feel like it comes from the world-soul.

Anyway, my usual bit of owl-earmarked energy has been diverted this week to an email conversation with Janice Gates, author of this peacefully dangerous book, about her comments on the huge E-Sutra mailing list. We are talking about gender and authority in western yoga communities. We’re ranging from:

? sexual energy in the classroom, to

? basic Psych 101 concepts like transference and projection (and why everybody should know them), to

? certain taboos on acknowledging men’s dominance, to

? finding a teacher who does the work of seeing her own conditioning and chooses equality rather than hierarchy-reproduction in subtle interactions and big life matters.

And more. It’s all rich and damn revolutionary. I’m challenged to open some of this up here, but I also don’t know that I have found the best tone of voice to use. It’s hard enough to look at/ listen to oneself in photographs or voice recordings, but this kind of reflection can destabilize our ideas about “reality” and threaten deep parts of our identities. I have so much regard and affection for my readers that the idea of making anyone uncomfortable makes me uncomfortable.

But this is what the practice of yoga (and, conveniently, sociology) IS. It is a philosophy of liberation, not an “I’m ok—You’re ok” self-help modality for accepting our limitations. Self-awareness is dangerous.Choosing and realizing new habits of being is hard.

So here. Get her book. If you linked to it above, did a voice in your ear argue that this looks a little trivial? If the subjects were luminaries of another gender, would the book be more serious?

Ok. Good answer. Let’s read the book anyway.

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