Now yoga creates sex scandals!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!

Ha ha, now the same New York Times writer so focused on how yoga is injuring and killing people has written a new article in which he says that yoga fans the sexual flames, with its roots in Tantric sex cults!!!

William J. Broad writes:

Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

How does he get away with saying that yoga produces “so many” philanderers? I don’t see any data. It’s certainly not as if the majority of philanderers are yogis. A handful of anecdotal examples does not prove his case.

Um, I believe fundamental and evangelical churches have produced way more philanderers per capita than yoga has. Not to mention the U.S. government — from the presidency on down! But I guess those are old headlines. And I don’t have any data either. Does anyone have data on philandering?

And…doesn’t philandering usually end up creating uproars that leave people shocked and distraught no matter what field they occur in?

William J. Broad is riding the Anusara/John Friend scandal to capitalize on the popularity of yoga and sell more of his books. If the New York Times called him “practitioner of make-a-buck sensational journalism whose claim to scientific credibility is undermined every time he confuses causation with correlation” instead of “senior science writer,” well, that would seem to be more accurate.

I cannot wait to read what the awesome Leslie Kaminoff has to say about this article! I will post it here when he puts up another video. Leslie has been a great counterpoint to William J. Broad, with way more credibility in the yoga world, and a voice of reason, common sense, and insight among the recent uproars about yoga. Leslie, write a book! See my recent post of his video about his yoga teacher Desikachar, son of the founder of modern yoga.

My take on it? Yoga improves health, and being healthy means being alive, vibrant, and responsive. That can certainly translate to sexy! Who isn’t attracted to people with those qualities?

And, a lot of activities improve health and libido, not just yoga. Running, biking, swimming, playing basketball, dancing zumba, and many, many more.

I also believe that yoga does more than just improve health — the asanas unblock meridians, allowing life-force energy (chiprana) to flow more freely throughout the body.

Ask anyone who’s had regular acupuncture for years if it’s improved their health, energy levels, and life force/vibrancy/libido, and they will tell you it has made a big difference. Same deal, no yoga.

And, over time and without needles, yoga does the same thing. And not just yoga. Gymnastics, acrobatics, acro-yoga, Pilates, martial arts, tai chi, chi gong, and several types of dance place the body in unusual postures or movements that increase flexibility, build strength and endurance, and require focused awareness. They train the bodymind to be healthier, to function better. Of course that affects sexuality. Health and sexuality are intimate partners.

This has been known for a long time.

Broad totally did not mention that one of the yamas (ethical guidelines) in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is brahmacharya, or nonexcess.

In the commentaries on the sutras, brahmacharya is applied specifically to sexual behavior and refers to chastity or even celibacy among advanced spiritual aspirants. Brahmacharya means refraining from sex except in committed relationships, and in that context, engaging in sex in moderation to develop a true spiritual partnership.

The yamas are required reading and discussion in yoga teacher training. And to put that in context, we live in America, which is a hypersexual culture. The porn industry is huge, and sex sells.

I imagine that the majority of people with a serious yoga practice do not misbehave sexually. Those who do, well, it’s more about power or addiction or lack of healthy role models than it is about the yoga.

Broad does share information about science’s interest in yoga and sex. I am not surprised by any of it. He’s fixated on yoga and sex; I’d like to see similar studies on martial arts and sex, and on yoga and the bonding hormone oxytocin.

And by the way, meditation (aka doing nothing) can promote sexual arousal. So can simply relaxing.

In Russia and India, scientists have measured sharp rises in testosterone — a main hormone of sexual arousal in both men and women. Czech scientists working with electroencephalographs have shown how poses can result in bursts of brainwaves indistinguishable from those of lovers. More recently, scientists at the University of British Columbia have documented how fast breathing — done in many yoga classes — can increase blood flow through the genitals. The effect was found to be strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos.

In India, recent clinical studies have shown that men and women who take up yoga report wide improvements in their sex lives, including enhanced feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as well as emotional closeness with partners.

So yoga enhances sex. No surprise there, and what’s wrong with that, as long as people are conscious about behaving responsibly with it? Yoga also enhances health, fitness, longevity, equanimity, awareness, and compassion. No data, just my experience.

See Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here to read the full article.

New York Yoga: How Yoga Can Lead to Pure Happiness

New York Yoga: How Yoga Can Lead to Pure Happiness.

Here’s another really great response to the recent, rather fear-mongering New York Times article about yoga that I blogged about in The dark side of yoga.

I liked this clarity:

…let’s not forget why we all practice in the first place: to attain yoga.  What is yoga?

Yoga is one of the six orthodox philosophical systems of the ancient Indus civilization that was codified by Sage Patanjali some time around 2500 BC. The entire yoga philosophy is summed up in 196 short statements, the Yoga Sutras, that describe techniques as to how to attain the state of yoga, a state of being when the mind is still and silent by arresting its modifications.  This leads to freedom from unhappiness. Using specific, technical terms, Sage Patanjali describes the transcendental experience that is yoga.

And this:

But, the most important thing about practicing yoga is that, just like any other activity, … it requires practice and familiarity with the fundamentals of that activity.  Therefore, it is the job of the yoga student to become a teacher. That does not mean everybody has to go to a teacher’s training. It means that every student needs to find the teacher within, the teacher who is determined, who is clear about what they are doing, who is organized, who listens, who pays attention to what is going on around and inside them. 

It’s about practice, dedication, and awareness. Best injury-prevention methods in the world.

Interview with yoga crone Cora Wen

I only got connected with Cora Wen through Facebook. I forget exactly how. I’ve come to love her posts and her take on yoga.

Now The Magazine of Yoga has published a two-part interview with Cora. This link is to Part 1, where Cora discusses being a yoga crone (along with Angela Farmer, Indra Devi, and other older female yoga teachers), and how they’ve served as role models for how to age well.

As well as race/ethnicity and gender and body differences.

In Part 2 of the interview, Cora talks about being a yoga teacher, chi, and living a life touched by yoga.

Love this quote:

That seems to be the thing my students always say: “You’re just so you.” Well, I want you to be you. I want you to disagree with me. I don’t want you to do what I say. I want you to think for yourself. I want you to be curious. I want you to be playful. I don’t want you just to listen to me. I don’t want you to repeat what I say. I want you to be you. Maybe I can help you see that. Being you is okay.

Read on for Cora’s take on the most important of the Yoga Sutras, and why.

Pratyahara starts with unnaming and having a fresh mind

I came across this article, 10 Things About Pratyahara: The Pivotal Moment in a Yogi’s Path, a few weeks ago on pratyahara and found it too good not to share.

Pratyahara, for the uninitiated, is one of the eight “limbs” of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It’s often translated from Sanskrit into English as “withdrawal of the senses.”

That description may not make much sense to those of us who are aware that our senses — when not engaged externally in seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching — are often engaged internally, when we experience internal dialogue or visions, imagination, and memories.

When does it stop? And is pratyahara really about what the senses are engaged or not engaged in? I think it’s more about the direction and freshness of your awareness.

This article points out B.K.S. Iyengar’s belief that when we internally name things we see, such as “tree,” “slugbug,” “cloud,” we are not practicing pratyahara. We do this all the time but may not be conscious of it.

Pratyahara occurs when the naming ends. We are so wedded to knowing. “That is a woman.” “That is a car.” “I am [insert your name or job or sound bite here].” There’s a feeling of triumph — you know! There’s certainty! And once known, it becomes stale.

Pratyahara is fresh.

Pratyahara is like Zen beginner’s mind.

It’s awareness of the samskara of the mind, creating a new direction for awareness. Rather than focusing outward while internally naming, change your mind’s direction and practice unnaming. It’s another awareness practice, another presence practice.

One exercise you can do to begin to practice pratyahara is to go for a walk and deliberately name everything you see. For five minutes, look at it and label it!

Then stop. Just listen for a couple of minutes, listening in an unfiltered way, letting all the sounds come in. You may still notice yourself labeling sounds at first. Go ahead. After you label it, really listen. Notice the gestalt of sound coming into your ears. Hear all the sounds at once!

Then continue walking, but this time walk as if you were seeing for the first time. Notice patterns of light and dark, notice shapes, contrast in colors and textures.

Do sirsasana and view the world upside down. Unname it.

You begin to loosen the grip of knowing.

You begin rewiring.

You begin pratyahara.

Graphic: Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga

The marvelous yogini-cum-graphic-artist Alison Hinks, who created the yoga lineages flow chart I linked to earlier, has done it again.

This beautiful graphic shows the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

What’s extra nice is that she’s identified the actions you do and the experiences that happen to you because you have practiced the actions effectively.

Thank you, Alison Hinks, for adding beauty and inspiration to the world.