Wow. Last week, huh? Turned out to be a real zinger, right? All that “support the union” talk. All that Yoga Journal double speak being thrown around. All those yoga people getting really really wound up about a cause they didn’t even know existed until the day before, ’cause no one really cares about unions unless they’re told to (check FB feeds from days prior to find all that pro-union yoga solidaridad. Oh right, there wasn’t any).
So what happened while we were all asleep these past two days and the yoga community got all fired up like a John Friend effigy?
Well, It’s All Yoga, Baby continued to basically corner the whole YJ/Hyatt boycott coverage, making even alt-indie-news outlets dizzy with being too-little-too-late. Nice work, sister! (Just check the site for all the posts).
Then there were the few articles that did come out, which made Yoga Journal look like some straight up stupid f’ing detached forgetableness. (Check out the SF Bay Guardian article and the Counterpunch article).
Then, Seane Corn came out with a statement that basically says she will not participate in a yoga conference or event held at a Hyatt so long as the boycott is in place. (I guess the hyper-commercialism of YJ is dope, so long as the working class gets an extra paid sick day).
Then, a new activist-oriented FB page called “Decolonizing Yoga” sprang up with the tag:
“Challenging racism, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, ableism, heteronormativity and privilege within yoga and spirituality. A place for radicals, queers, activists, anarchists, feminists & revolutionaries to unite. Let’s do this!”
…which is both exciting (because, well, it sounds pretty damn exciting!) and slightly wearisome (because, much of what passes as “yoga for activists” ends up being really watered down [because "hey, everyone is a teacher"] and involving a lot of pillows and “just do whatever feels right for today” because, anything less is “linear,” “masculine,” “heteronormative,” and thus “fascist.”)
This group then proposed an event titled “I Pledge to Not Attend or Teach at the 2014 Yoga Journal Conference at the Hyatt if Boycott Continues,” which I must admit, made us all chuckle a little, ’cause attending and/or teaching at a Yoga Journal conference seems like such a far-fetched idea. It’s almost like someone asking us to promise not to cut off our own nipples. I mean, there’s a time and place for everything, but 2014 probs ain’t gonna be that time, and San Fransisco probs ain’t gonna be that place.
Now, while the SF YJ/Hyatt biz did prick up me ol’ feathers a bit, over the weekend I found myself questioning more the responses to the YJ/Hyatt debacle, than YJ itself. In a way I felt like those old DC straight-edge punks who not only had to rebel against the norms of the world, but also their own stumbling drunk dead-end scene. Picking up what I’m dropping down (around min. 1:18)?
See, what I find so perplexing about some of the language used to challenge entities like Yoga Journal is that it often sounds as if people want to actually change Yoga Journal. As if to suggest that if something as big and grand as Yoga Journal were more populist in design, then it’d be OK. This focus on changing Yoga Journal, or the commercial yoga culture to better reflect some vague idea of commercial equality is very strange to me. Yoga Journal isn’t lame just because Yoga Journal ignores some picket line you never knew was happening. Yoga Journal is lame because its interests lie in hyper-commercialism, which by design is an alienating enterprise, and will ultimately promote the crossing of many picket lines. Who gives a fuck if commercialism take over yoga culture? Yoga culture ain’t anything worth saving, as yoga culture is just a form of commercialism.
Commercialism, like the “soul,” will abide in whatever vessel is willing and able to contain it. It’s not like Yoga Journal is some sort of unique entity that must be stopped, because God forbid someone commercialize “yoga.” Your daily yoga practice has nothing to do with Yoga Journal, and Yoga Journal has nothing to do with your daily yoga practice. Yoga Journal, and ultimately commercial yoga culture as a whole, act as vessels for commercialism to inhabit so long as there is a hungry market. When the market dries up, commercialism will pack up and leave. Find a new vessel within which it can set up shop. Yoga Journal will be left by the side, like every other vessel.
Ever notice what an old washed up trend looks like once the demand finds a new rationed source of sustenance? Aerobics, anyone? Cajun flavored Doritos? Jogging? It looks dated. It looks empty. It looks uninspired. Pull back its eyelids and you’ll find no one home. That’s because commercialism, the commodified “soul” of the fad, the fickle inspirator, has left the building.
So be careful when you put all your eggs in that Yoga Journal basket. You don’t want to end up kicking some torn up old pair of Z Cavaricci jeans in an abandoned mall, while the struggle has already moved down the highway to a different mall with better parking and one of those outdoor food courts.