Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I am tired of "Living Authentically"

*warning... yoga book rant coming up....*

I'm trying to read some yoga philosophy. I've been slogging away at a few books for months now. I just can't handle the fluff of yoga platitudes that are so PRESENT (to use a "yogism") in every single concept, discussion, sentence.

I have always had some serious reservations of packaging and presenting information in a completely esoteric, unreachable, untenable and impractical manner.

You might say, "Read _________, he's extremely political and so relevant!"... except... that IS the book I'm trying to get through. I just have some difficulty agreeing with paragraphs of repetitive "oneness" and comparisons to psychoanalysis (newsflash, Freudian Theory is no longer accepted in Western Psychological practices- mostly cuz the guy did coke... and it's been disproven).

Yes, recognizing the interconnectedness of each being will bring important realizations regarding how we see our everyday lives, but I have to say that David Suzuki did a much better (and more concise and clearly written) job of explaining this in his book "Sacred Balance". The discussion points were clear, the explanations weren't circular and the examples were directly relevant and backed by research. AND he had a good smattering of spirituality to top it all off.

I really want to read how we can use yoga teachings in everyday, practical situations. Sure, give me the history, the philosophy (clearly written though! no muddy, circular discussions!) but then actually discuss how this can have practical implications instead of simply a sentence about living mindfully and authentically through honesty is the TRUE representation of Satya. Or something like that. What does that even MEAN?? We rarely talk about how to apply these teachings in everyday life.

So instead we may get a bunch of people talking about "living authentically in the deliciousness of life" while simultaneously laughing at a person's writing skills, writing agressive emails regarding yoga in the park, or choosing to only support community yoga initiatives if they directly benefit your studio.

I feel as if this is where often yoga philosophy falls short. There is so much metaphorical language that when practical every day situations arise we actually have no real concept of what "living authentically" or "speaking our truth" really means.

I don't feel that we each need our cookie cutter idea of how to live the niyamas and yamas (or yogic philosophy), or that metaphor and philosophy doesn't have an important place in a person's learning, but lets please cut out the "yogisms" that, let's be real here, actually have no meaning whatsoever. They just make us sound "yogic".

But then, I've always been a fairly practical kinda gal... Anyone have any non fouffy, practical yogic philosophy suggestions that don't involve authors with initials M.S.?

(ps- related to books and reading, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this initiative by Neil Gaiman called "All Hallow's Read": the *new* tradition of giving a scary book for Halloween to your loved ones! OR, how about hosting a scary story reading complete with decorations, treats and perhaps even some wine for the grownups? OH YEAH!!)


  1. I love Frank Jude Boccio "mindfulness yoga". I can't remember how deep into the philiosophy he actually gets but its waaaay more readable than a particular author ou may be referring to. (i have trained with him…. and it's the same in real life!)

    1. Ouuu- excellent- thank you, i will definitely check him out. It's nice to know that it's not just me who feels this way, and disappointing that he's also like that in real life....

    2. i have trained with Frank also and i really connected with him! hopefully you enjoy it too- let me know!

  2. Check out anything written by Donna Farhi. She is wonderful, and her books are accessible and interesting. But yes, I understand what you mean. I go back and forth. There is a part of me that has always loved the books that are, at some level, difficult to understand but full of deep teachings. I also like to know how to put it into practice. I find myself oscillating between the two, and I guess I'm always looking for a great balance.

    1. Awesome, thanks Rebecca! I will do that :)
      Yes, I agree with you 100%, I feel exactly the same. I like some of the philosophy, but honestly it just has to be well written, and this book that I'm reading right now is terrible.... :S

  3. I think you nailed why I am disillusioned with so many yogic philosophy workshops AND books at this juncture in my life. I've attended lectures on the yamas and niyamas, on Maya/the veil/and looking inward, yogic meditation, and more. Ultimately, I struggle with taking all this esoteric mumbojumbo (because that's what it boils down to for myself) and distilling it into to something I can actually *use*. Poor translations don't help either. Sometimes even good translations don't help.

    Which is why I think I am drawn to the Buddhist philosophy and dharma talks (as given by commongroundmeditation.org). It is more often presented in such a way that it applies to everyday life. How can I live my life and be a better person. What can I do that will make a difference? That I can understand.

    And totally off topic - Neil Gaiman ROCKS! :) I just got to see him Labor Day weekend when he was in Chicago accepting a Hugo Award for a Dr. Who episode he had written. I hadn't seen his current initiative so I'll go check it out. Thanks.

  4. I could not agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am getting so frustrated with all the esoteric philosophies out there. How do we make it real? How do we connect it to the real world? I've really gravitated towards speakers/writers who are able to answer that question for me.

    LOVE the Halloween idea!

  5. PS: When it comes to Yamas & Niyamas, I enjoyed this article: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2565. It quotes some pretty down-to-earth yoga teachers, too.

  6. Thanks ecoyogini, it makes me feel good to know I'm not the only one. I started getting really frustrated with western yoga as a whole because of all the fluffy "smile or die" philosophy books out there. It's sort of how I ended up getting into zen Buddhism. But I do feel like my yoga practice has suffered some. I look forward to any book recs your readers share.

  7. This is exactly what I have been thinking about the past few days.

  8. Well said. Have you listened to Tara Brach's podcasts? Check out www.tarabrach.com. I also just discovered that she has a blog at www.blog.tarabrach.com.

  9. "(newsflash, Freudian Theory is no longer accepted in Western Psychological practices- mostly cuz the guy did coke... and it's been disproven") haha - laughed out loud - love it!
    I hear ya sister, all of a sudden, everyone is a yogi - it's really frustrating when sacred things take the "trendy" route. Ughh.
    I'm currently reading "Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, a Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation, & Indian Philosophy". I quite like it and am finding it interesting and enlightening.
    And I LOVE your whole reading scary stories/Halloween party idea - I might just get my ghost loving friends together and do that!
    Thanks xo

  10. I agree, Donna Fahri is great. I especially like her book for teachers. Yoga philosophy is a hard slog.

    I love, love scary books! My All Hallow's Read to you is The Little Stranger. Kinda slow, but totally creeptastic!


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