You can imagine how the established yoga world reacted to all that. It was like when Christine O'Donnell won the Republican primary in Delaware. Karl Rove was all over the place distancing himself from her while secretly watching to see if he should quickly embrace her (if she looked like she would win) or to totally trash her (if she looked like she would lose). She ain't one of us! Unless she is...no wait....she ain't! Definitely, ain't.
As much as I admire people who dare to speak out against the establishment and go against the tide to create something new my sense is that this person, like Christine O'Donnell, has the flaw of being wrong-headed at least in one important way (and it is here that the metaphor ends because i think Christine O'Donnell is wrong in far more ways than one). I think it is a mistake to take some minimal training, teach for a couple of years, and think that you know better. Even if she is a brilliant teacher, she is displaying a kind hubris that is indicative that she has seriously missed the point in living a life of yoga.
I agree with her that a lot of teacher training programs are not adequate. I feel lucky to have participated in one that was pretty comprehensive and that had the clout to pull in some amazing scholars and yogis as guest lecturers. I learned an enormous amount. Yet, in almost every class I teach, I see places where I could know more, know better. I suspect that isn't a reflection of my training but a reflection of how yoga is a life-long path that is infinitely complex. How can 200-hours of training really prepare anyone for meeting the huge range of bodies and personalities that one meets even in one class? YTT offers a skeleton of ideas that the teacher has to flesh out through their own experience and continued training. In my training, they were pretty open about this. After teaching a bit for the past two years, I feel like I mostly know how much I don't know. In other words, I feel damned humble about what it means to share information about yoga with people.
This morning I read a post by Anusara yoga instructor, Christina Sell, where she had this to say, not in reaction to the NY Times piece but after teaching an immersion class in Copenhagen. I think she gets to the heart of it quite nicely. (As an aside, I cleaned up a couple of typos.)
One of the recurring themes for me this week was the importance of really having an aim as a yogi. It seems more and more obvious to me that practices and lifestyle recommendations in yoga are NOT about a list of outer do's and don'ts designed to make us into some kind of "ideal yogi". Really, how we chose to evolve our practice and our studentship (I am not tallking here aout "yoga class studentship" but the larger consideration of being a student of Life, discipleship to the flow, sadhana, etc.) is really all about what we want from the yoga. If what we want is a health-based hobby, then the yoga is not going to ask that much of us or require that we relinquish a lot of our comforts, preferences, and so forth. But if we are looking for deeper outcomes from yoga than a hobby provides we might be asked to turn up the heat in our practices.
Mind you, I am not criticizing the different aims. I am not someone who has an issue with "yoga for a cuter butt" despite what people might think. Nope, that's not my axe to grind. I could care less why people do yoga in a way and have no interest AT ALL in convincing people with an athletic orientation to be more "spiritual" about it, for instance. That, to me,is a very boring discussion. Who cares? I repeat - not me. What I am interested in is that each of us know our personal reasons for practice and that we feel empowered by them and that we make intelligent choices in our lives based on those reasons. And, I feel no need to see the reasons- while all great reasons, in general- as the same. So things can be different and still be valid. We have to be grown ups about that, you know?
When I read that it makes me think that she could be telling me to not be so judgmental about the person who was featured in the article and/or she could be saying that there is room for all of us to be living our yoga (or not). I guess you can decide.
Here is the link to the Times article.
Here is an interesting article that, perhaps, explains a bit about why we were even reading about this person,
And another one that touches on the "Slim, Calm, Sexy" part.