The Return of the Inapprpriate Yoga Guy • 4 April 2008

Sheesh. There’s sexual energy that sees itself… and sexual energy that is just desperate to be seen

Should be no surprise that an informal collection of teachers (of both sexes) counsel each other on the gender biases that we have inherited from past generations of yoga asana tradition. How to engage this legacy while acknowledging and gracefully altering that aspect? Important discussions, and ones which don’t quite need to have their energy drained away by continual public re-explanation that yes, folks, the tradition has been sexist. (This discussion good because of how easy it is to re-gender yoga, reactively, with an angular, uber-disciplined harsh-girl vibe… YJYW culture, with its ballet undertones, might hold the seeds of that.)

Some participants in that conversation about gender have made a commitment not to study with teachers who throw their sexual energy around a classroom. It’s not like it’s any secret who these teachers are. Some of them get famous because they are so very sexy. I don’t have a policy or go around investigating teachers' sexualities, but I understand the impulse to be mindful about this because, obviously, a teacher has access to what Steve calls your inner sanctum. Your "psyche" or (whatever you call the inner world of motivation and desire) is available to a teacher’s subtlest suggestions when you practice, so why expose it to someone whose sexuality/ creative energy is adolescent, dominating, or attention-hoarding? That’s sort of the definition of uncontained— wasted— energy.

If you find yourself doing your hair for yoga, tanning for your practice outfits, or getting nervous stomach… what’s that about? Is it coming from you, or are you responding to something?

How do you know if someone’s not self-possessed sexually? Well, there are the painfully obvious indicators. If they constantly, tenderly adjust students' hair (my favorite), or gingerly align waistbands, or breathe on you heavily, or seek out a lot of charged eye contact… well… give me a break. How tacky do you want your practice to get? Why not practice with someone who is more refined and alchemically sweet?

There is a part of us who wants to go back for the blatant mind sex (Oh yeah! Fun! They keep me mindful! They put me in an “altered state”!), and a part of us that sees this behavior for what it is. Adolescent.

Probably better for yoga to recognize it even if it doesn't recognize itself.