This Tadasana Yoga Festival Video /// Am I Just a Jerk?

[Ed.: A reader passed along this video the other day and all these feelings came up as they often do when I watch something like this. I thought I’d let myself and my inner back-and-forths be presented “as is” as a sort of personal performance, rather than come up with some long-winded critical theorist “critique” or something. Read into this what you will. Consider it an exercise in thinking aloud. Just know, I’m not *trying* to be a c-word.]

According to Tadasana Fest‘s website:

Tadasana will treat attendees to an outstanding community experience, featuring world class yoga and one-of-a-kind musical events, in a city that has become the epicenter of yoga in America. A typical day begins around 8 am with beach strolls, smoothies, organic food and of course, yoga. Morning meditations will be on tap for early risers. Throughout the day, attendees choose from a variety of classes, workshops and lectures. In addition to practicing yoga, the Tadasana Village will offer an awesome place for people to connect, shop, eat and hang.

I’m not really sure what to say.

First, something has gotta be up when Wah! ends up being the most traditionally rooted-sounding voice in a video of yoga practitioners. Which is not to say that Wah! can’t throw down a mean bhajan, but typically I’d consider her the “eclectic” new-school participant in a roster of kirtan walas, and not necessarily the old-school voice of reason.

Secondly, I keep thinking about how this whole DJ-yoga-conscious capitalism scene is gonna look with about thirty years of class theory and privilege studies under our collective belts. You know what I mean? Like, I wonder if this is gonna look a bit…I don’t know…Saved By The Bell-ish?

It’s like when you look back at “hippie” culture having already read Black Panther literature (or even White Panther literature) and you think about which team (the hippies or the radicals) you would’ve played for had you lived during that era, and now you’re like, Oooo…. That hippie stuff is looking pretty weak these days. And then you remember about how the “hippies” were really just a media-constructed safety against Abbie Hoffman and the yippies, who were more or less set on being pests.

It’s like, all that privileged white “hippie” idealism just starts to wuss out when you stand it up next to other, less commercial, still mostly white, F’ shit up idealisms like The Situationists (Europe), Black Mask (NYC), Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers (NYC), or Weather Underground (Chicago).

Weather Underground

I don’t know…

I guess I just can’t get down with this “we’re making a difference” thing when it’s coming from someone who looks like he’s about to down a $3.00 goji berry shot while dancing barefoot to a “global beats” DJ.

Know what I mean? I know that’s, like, ridiculously petty in a way….

Hmm….

It’s like this: Individuals and small groups of people are great. Individuals and small groups of people have fantastic ideas. Individuals and small groups of people are exciting and fun. Individuals and small groups of people end up throwing awesome spontaneous dance parties and starting weird collectively-owned anarchist vegan cupcake lending library bakery record stores. I *LOVE* individuals and small groups of people! It’s all these invented “progressive cultures” and “consciousness movements” that make me itchy.

Which is not to say I’m against, like, “tree-hugging” or anything. I’m the only person I know who actually—literally—hugs trees on a weekly basis. Like, I walk up to trees, I hug them, and whisper loving things with my mind into their tiny little bark ears. Seriously. But, I don’t hire MC Yogi to DJ while I do it. I just do it, ’cause I think trees want to be hugged and that if you do it enough and the tree isn’t totally hating on you ’cause you’re a stupid violent human, than, you might get a response.

But, I guess, for me, this video just represents a kind of culture-making I’m not into. A very “green” commercial culture thing using Burning Manlite as a back drop.

This is dope. (Burning Man)

But then, of course I feel like a jerk, ’cause really these people are just having fun, right? You know…goofing around…surfing the I’m-high-on-this-new-air-purifier-iPad-app-I-made wave. I mean, I like to goof around. I like to surf the I’m-high-on-this-new-air-purifier-iPad-app-I-made wave. I guess I just don’t pretend I’m doing anything to help a black kid from East Brooklyn get a better education while I do it….

I don’t know…. These kinds of videos with people acting in these kinds of ways make me feel weird. It’s hard to explain. I don’t mean any disrespect….

42 comments

  1. Maybe you just haven’t eaten your ‘Yogavive’ chips yet today!

  2. amphibi1yogini

    If I feel like a jerk, it’s because I’m made to feel like a jerk. I don’t have the excess coin or the time, or the ability to just get up and leave, anywhere for any thing Yoga Chic (like Radical Chic … after Tom Wolfe… and I lived through the ’60s).

    The advertising and 99.999999% of the yoga blog digests are never directed at me.

    And, thus, decisions are ever-simpler …

  3. Yoga Dude

    What is the Sanskrit word for “Circle Jerk”?

    • As far as lineups go Glastonbury and Sasquatch are top notch, but for oeravll atmosphere Shambhala can’t be beat. Simply put it’s 10 000 of the most friendly welcoming people coming together at (in my opinion) the coolest location possible for a festival deep in the forest with great stages and the best lights and sound and the COOLEST costumes ever! It’s really the people that make the festival what it is though, everyone puts so much effort in to their costumes, I’ve seen stuff there I didn’t think was possible!

  4. Greenpoint

    money makes people do, and say, crazy shat…

    I was squirming, covering my eyes through the whole video…

  5. Linda-Sama

    Babarazzi, I think I love you. I’m from Chicago — my friends got their heads bashed in by Chicago’s finest during the ’68 Demo. Convention and I skipped class to attend the Chicago 7 trial (originally Chicago 8)….yeah, the neo hippie thang is a bit weak….

  6. Agreed

    “I guess I just can’t get down with this “we’re making a difference” thing when it’s coming from someone who looks like he’s about to down a $3.00 goji berry shot while dancing barefoot to a “global beats” DJ.”

    I totally hear what you’re saying. It just seems so contrived in a weird fake, thinking they’re being really spiritual but really it’s coming from the ego… But then again, they look like they’re having a good time, so maybe I’m the asshole for judging them. But I really didn’t need to hear them f**king rap about chilling at Tadasana. Eugh…. not my scene, but I just have to remind myself to live and let live so I don’t ended up getting pissed off about it!

  7. wilddingo

    You are my favorite genderless genius. You’re not alone. I find when things go “global” or get too large, it loses effectiveness very fast. The large yoga events give me the hebbie jebbies.

  8. chai fan

    Don’t feel like a jerk. This is creepy creepy stuff and I will never ever attend anything like this ever in my life.
    Maybe I’m just reading into things with my jaded view, but I also can’t help but detect a holier than thou attitude. As in “if you don’t follow me as I set up this line of roses down to the ocean, than your just not a good person and you don’t care about making the world a better place” (Although we know from Yama’s YJC piece that that could just be Shiva Rea’s entourage and she floats). Other things that repulse me- The use of the term “global tribe”, LA yoga mag, the blissed out look on all the celebriyogi’s faces, the Reboot sponser (whatever that is), the rapping, the singing My Girl. Also, all of it.

  9. this made me guffaw: “I’m the only person I know who actually—literally—hugs trees on a weekly basis. Like, I walk up to trees, I hug them, and whisper loving things with my mind into their tiny little bark ears. Seriously. But, I don’t hire MC Yogi to DJ while I do it.” agreed.
    and SO feeling you on this: “I *LOVE* individuals and small groups of people! It’s all these invented “progressive cultures” and “consciousness movements” that make me itchy.”
    thank you, as always, for adding such texture to the convo.

  10. Mark

    whats with julian walker’s Hitler hairdoo?

  11. Yogachip

    Re: Video – CANNOT. UNSEE.

  12. I love your contrarian approach and can’t help but be delighted to see the Situationists cited in a yoga post – that’s a first! Nonetheless, I think you are wrong – both in terms of how you’re seeing the Tadaasana Festival and your historical references.

    First – I was not at TF but do know some of the people who were centrally involved. Despite the fact that the video admittedly makes the whole thing look pretty goofy, a lot of those teachers are doing the sort of socially involved work that you say you value – working with kids in juvenile detention centers, gang members, recovering addicts, etc. A lot of the leaders of a more socially engaged approach to American yoga were at TF.

    Also, while I get that the hippie vibe can be a huge turn off, there’s a real value to music, dance, yoga, etc. coming together. Our society has lost so much of this creativity and it’s very important. I like the fact that TF made a point to bring in world musicians and create a lived experience of music, movement, and community. Agreed, when it all gets too commercialized, it loses any artistic edge. But my sense was that this one didn’t go that far into generic entertainment pablum and had some real artists involved. (Perhaps they need a different videographer to get that across.)

    Finally, look: the Weather Underground was pathological and destructive. That whole romance of violence movement set progressive politics back in this country tremendously. I read Bill Ayer’s most recent book and was 100% unimpressed. Plus I do know the history and those sorts of movement were most decidedly NOT where the energy for positive change was located during the 1960s-70s. Quite the contrary.

    I could go on and on about that but a blog post comment is not the place. At any rate, I am glad that you are raising these issues and think they’re important – but I also think that you need more solid information before you can reach a more nuanced position on them.

    • Hi, Carol. Thanks for the comments. It’s a good one.

      I hope it’s clear that the piece was intended to be a VERY subjective “felt response” to witnessing a growing trend of yoga festival culture, something that often appears to be one thing, but may in fact be another. What that “other” thing is was left open in order to give the culture a little room. So, we were not criticizing any of the people involved or any of their social work, etc. The piece, in my opinion, speaks more to the projected image of one version of commercial yoga culture than to whether or not the organizers donated money to a charity. That’s a good thing regardless of the context.

      With regards to there being a “real value to music, dance, yoga, etc. coming together” I simply could not disagree more. None of us here have seen anything of imperative use in the combining of yoga and dance or music. They are whatever you make of them. It’s a fine enough happening, but I’m not going to say I care at all about it. Personally, I prefer to practice before the sun rises. I can’t think of anything worse than having a DJ show up and start “conscious juggling” at that hour. I’d rather just practice and worry about what’s on my iPod later.

      Do I think our society has lost much of its creativity? Not really. I think creativity is sort of uncontainable and manifests in very very strange and sometimes invisible (to others) ways. I certainly don’t think of yoga practice as a place to “get creative” and “express myself.” We express our “selves” all day long. I practice yoga to give my “self” a few hours off.

      I agree that a comment section is not adequate for discussing the Weather Underground et al., however, I will say that there is a hell of a lot more to those ultra-left manifestations in the 60s than “violence.” I’m assuming you’ve read Churchill’s “Pacifism as Pathology,” and not to take up his flag, but it’s a necessary read when trying to grasp the political effects of movements in the 60s, and to recognize that there’s more that goes into progressing civilization than good ideas and financial backing. Sometimes, and according to some scholars, it always take a little push. In the end, everything goes hand-in-hand.

  13. Pranama Red

    Maybe it was the opening commercial for a product which promises to combat “free radicals”.

  14. love the ‘zero waste’ shot, with a long, long line of trash bins!!!

  15. amphibi1yogini

    “Do I think our society has lost much of its creativity? Not really. I think creativity is sort of uncontainable and manifests in very very strange and sometimes invisible (to others) ways. I certainly don’t think of yoga practice as a place to “get creative” and “express myself.” ”

    Well said, unless by “creative”, you mean business opportunities for yoga teachers and yoga studios … “creative entrepreneurship” … but there are less co-optive (NOT a typo) ways to do that …

  16. J

    Dear lord I love this blog.

  17. Ryan

    Why do these yoga-music-lifestyle festivals exist? I am not really a part of any yoga community type thing. I just practice and read at home and see a teacher once a week. If I want to do something special that is yoga related then I just ask a few friends. If I feel like saving the planet then I volunteer somewhere or just rummage through the trash. If I want music then I go to the local college and watch one of the students recitals. So why do people pay good money and go through all the hula hoops to attend something that I can do for minimal cost? What is the point of these festivals? Anyone care to illuminate me?

  18. amphibi1yogini

    There is no point. I think this (mostly younger) generation seems to need its own version of Deadheads.

    There has been only one Grateful Dead. When the trendoids leave yoga, they will take these festivals with them.

    • Ryan

      Tendoids. I did not know of that word, but I like it now and will use it. From urban dictionary…”It is extremely hard to find a trendoid that is not a wanker. “

    • chai fan

      Though I use to follow the dead and can see the correlation, I think its all ages. People in their late 30’s, 40’s. I’m 40 and teach yoga, and I know people close to my age who go to things like this (Wanderlust and such). Personally, I agree with you and don’t see the appeal. At all, rather save my money and go back to India one day.

  19. May I suggest a jumping off point…

    “I think creativity is sort of uncontainable and manifests in very very strange and sometimes invisible (to others) ways. I certainly don’t think of yoga practice as a place to “get creative” and “express myself.” We express our “selves” all day long. I practice yoga to give my “self” a few hours off.”

    I am drawn more and more to the neuroscience behind yoga and, for that matter, creativity. I think there might be some overlap and that the two interact in the way brain processes (generates?) these activities. I’m not sure they are mutually exclusive (maybe you aren’t either, but that’s why I’m curious to read a point jump).

    P.S. And, what a delight to start the morning with such eloquent antagonism…more please!

    • Glad you liked the tone, Brenda P. Also, the neurology underneath it all is a fascinating field. Apparently, from a neurological perspective flexibility has nothing to do with muscles becoming more flexible, but rather from the mind caring less and less how far they stretch….

      Chew on that.

  20. Yoga Dude

    Brenda, I think you stumbled upon something.

    “The Babarazzi – eloquent antagonist”

  21. Mark

    In regard to charity and social charity…giving back to the community…it is hard not to judge charity from these events not to be nothing more than a disingenuous PR stunt. Its not the money or even the time given…its the genuine selfless giving that matters…and lo …know one is able to judge that nor should they…however…

  22. my friends and I in middle school would watch saved by the bell for days. Strange that even then it alluded a buzzy, entertaining and yet superficial passing trend, like z-cavarrichis, clarissa explains it all, or command and conquer. good times tho with my old friends long gone. xo

  23. DeDee

    Well I had fun at Wanderlust last year…but it’s all about ego, seriously, like dressing up to go out. Have fun, but don’t confuse it with spirituality

  24. marianamcloughlin

    Cringing… what a sad portrayal of yoga.

  25. Wow I love this blog more and more every day. Also, I don’t see The Babarazzi (blog or collective) as antagonistic, I see them as a necessary voice of reason. They say what a lot of people are scared to say lest they be viewed as not being “good” or “equanimous” yogis (I believe questioning is important, besides, stuffing down “negative” emotions or reactions to things is not conducive to being in touch with the “True self”. Duality is part of life.) and they’ve definitely opened my eyes on a few issues, too.

    And yes, I agree with some other comments here, I’m not sure of the “point” of these festivals. They aren’t different from Bonnaroo or Gathering of the Vibes just because they’ve slapped the word “Yoga” on their press releases. (I’ve been to Bonnaroo, and if I remember right a few people were teaching yoga in the middle of one of the fields for free, at random). As someone in their mid-twenties, yes, I do most definitely have a longing for “my” Woodstock, which may have been why I checked out Bonnaroo and was SORELY disappointed (The best part of the entire trip was the beautiful road trip from NY to TN).

    I think people just desperately want to be part of (or in) some kind of community, maybe these festivals make them feel some kind of connection with other people (or maybe that’s just the magic mushrooms)? I don’t know. I try not to judge but, these yoga-lifestyle-music festivals seem so overtly…fake? I mean in so far as the projected idea that these festivals create some kind of true community among people. Even if they are affiliated with some charities, I just don’t see how someone would believe that a corporate-sponsored event could create any real sense of connectedness on a human level. So, I like to assume people go to these festivals with the intention of just having a good time while listening to some live music, maybe do a little yoga, smoke a few doobs and not shower for 4 days straight. Not sure why you’d spend hundreds of dollars doing that when you can do all that and more for free (okay the doob wouldn’t be free necessarily) at home, but, hey, diff’rent strokes!

  26. Interesting to see how few yogi types are into ‘Festivals’ or ‘Yoga Events’. So, I’m wondering, what’s the issue? Is it the so called Commercialization of Yoga, or that Yoga isn’t being presented in a way that You feel is authentic? Are you or your fav teacher not booked to teach? Is it the $$$? Whatever it is, cool; but should that give you the excuse to tear down other peoples idea of Fun? The idea that anyone’s form of practice, worship, (or entertainment for that matter) is any less valid than ones own is about as un-Yogic as the gossip schmack talking that I see in the comments section of this blog…. If you’re not into the festivals, you don’t go. Pretty simple…
    For me, living in LA, I don’t have to go to a Yoga event to see any of the teachers as the majority of them teach at my local studio – but, for many people these events are the only chance they are ever going to get to see so many teachers or artists in one location at one time, and many never would have otherwise been able to experience those classes if such events hadn’t provided such a space for this to occur.
    Having been to many YJ Conferences, Years of festivals from the Dead, Phish, Rainbow Gatherings, Symbiosis, Wanderlust, Global Mala, Earth Dance, Moontribe, Wicked SF, & a 8 Year veteran of Burning Man gatherings over a period of 13 Yrs… Being a DJ and Yoga Instructor, I’ve actively watched and participated in the evolution of both these cultures. I feel like The union of Yoga and Music is a natural progression of the Art and Science that is in fact Yoga.
    Union.
    Regardless of how it’s found, be it during your home practice or at a festival, when you can see the Unity in all things instead of perpetually focusing on the supposed separation, then you know your Yoga is working…

  27. “Interesting to see how few yogi types are into ‘Festivals’ or ‘Yoga Events’. So, I’m wondering, what’s the issue? Is it the so called Commercialization of Yoga, or that Yoga isn’t being presented in a way that You feel is authentic? Are you or your fav teacher not booked to teach? Is it the $$$? Whatever it is, cool; but should that give you the excuse to tear down other peoples idea of Fun? The idea that anyone’s form of practice, worship, (or entertainment for that matter) is any less valid than ones own is about as un-Yogic as the gossip schmack talking that I see in the comments section of this blog…. If you’re not into the festivals, you don’t go. Pretty simple…”

    I wouldn’t say I was “tearing down other peoples idea of Fun”, (and I apologize to anyone who may have felt that way) I was just saying I don’t think their idea of fun is fun, for me. I don’t think everyone wants to hear why I didn’t enjoy Bonnaroo as much as I thought I would in detail so I’m not getting into it.

    I can’t speak for Babarazzi, but I personally just don’t see the appeal of Festivals like these (yoga- or music-centered or both, and believe me, I fucking love music and Yoga) and also take issue with how it is marketed. I just don’t see how a corporate sponsored event is supposed to garner community, but I suppose that it is up to the attendees to create that sense. Like I said in my previous post, (and looking at it now I wish I worded one part differently because I made it seem like there is something wrong with wanting to feel a sense of community or to be part of a community, there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s a human need that needs to be fulfilled) the issue I have is just how it is corporate-sponsored and thus the way it is marketed.

    I guess what I should have mentioned is that people can organize large Yoga/music festivals without corporate sponsorship, and I think if we want to have big festivals like that while still maintaining certain values, then that’s the best way to go about organizing it. Volunteers and local businesses can come together to set up a festival like that. I used to be involved in organizing the Long Beach Jazz Fest in Long Island, that was completely organized by a small group of volunteers in LB and the local businesses/restaurants involved used their space to host musicians, businesses would pay fees to be featured in the flyers and pamphlets to raise money for organizing, and that’s how the festival sustained itself. No one really made any money (as far as I know), most of the musicians either broke even or made a little bit in tips. It was all about the music.

    So, these yoga-musis-mashup festivals should be all about Yoga and music, not the products/lifestyles trying to be sold amid all the fun.

  28. musis=music* yay typos.

  29. Also whomever pointed out the shot of the “Zero Waste” sign with the long line of garbage bins raises a good point. That’s another reason why these festivals at that scale are doing harm while they may do some good, the amount of waste produced by the tens of thousands of people that come through is just insane (plastic and paper plates/utensils, garbage, bottles, etc) The fields after Bonnaroo were covered in garbage. Maybe at Tadasana and Wanderlust the crowd is more aware of being wasteful and maybe there isn’t as much willy-nilly trash throwing going around, one would think.

  30. Oh, but I only said Namaste twice! Extra yoga points!

    This video makes you feel strange when you watch it!? Imagine filming it!

    Side (I do good work in the world) plug: Check out the 10 videos we put out every week on bighappyday.com. They are FREE videos to teach people about tantra, mantra, doshas, koshas, sutras etc. Yes, they have “commercials” but it is based on a cause based marketing model and we give away 10% of the pre-roll on the videos to charity. The sponsors pay my bills, and make it so that these videos are accessible to ALL!
    Great Analysis BABA! I REALLY am interested in the future of these communities and I appreciate the light (or dark) you explore.
    Keep up the good work!
    p.s. I also own bigcrappyday.com, maybe we can collaborate =)
    LOVE PEACE ETC. =)

    • Why is it that when we critique a product, nine times out of ten the owner of that product will respond simply by using our comments section to further promote themselves with more canned marketing? It’s like a psychosis, and it happens very very often.

      You ask why these videos make people feel weird? That pretty much sums it up. They seem to breed (or are the symptoms of) an obsession with self promotion.

      Not you, of course! Others, others. Like from Lost. Bad John Locke. That sort of thing.

      • I hope it’s because they feel a little threatened. I hope it’s because they feel that you have successfully convinced parts of their market share that have yet to be penetrated, not to pursue the avenue(s) they are promoting.

        And, even though in my particular case, you are preaching to the choir, there are vast pockets of potential suckers out there. Your predecessor, Yoga Dawg (though possibly half an apologist for what is wrong with the yoga scene today) influenced me as to what to look for and what to avoid.

        You carry this great mantle. Yoga-scene impresarios know this.

    • Yes, I’m a fabulous self promoter AND I also hate when people do that. I guess I just wanted you to know that I see the irony and flaws in all of this too. I’m not at these festivals with sparkly vision. I see the BS floating everywhere. Someday I will produce an outtake reel of all the teachers and then I will have to move out of the country =) SO, in my spare time, on occasion…I do things that actually help people. This is my hope anyway. And I say this in hopes that someone will validate me, but I think I’m barking up the wrong tree pose.

      • We will co-edit/sponsor this outtakes video you speak of…. Be in touch.

        But, don’t worry about being validated, Kasey. Your actions are always already validated! Trust Love and Trust Life. Seriously and with good cheer.

        Kisses.

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