Whatever Western “Yogis” Touch Turns to Gold (or Pooh?) /// Summer Solstice Times Square 2012

The above photo, which is being passed around the ol’ Facebook, carries with it an increasingly ubiquitous message about yoga’s bigger-is-betteris-bolderis-ballsier identity crisis. Everywhere you look someone is hosting an event that claims to be the biggest of its kind, the most fun, the most playful, the most bestest. Take a peek at Elephant Journal on any given day, and you’re likely to start thinking yoga is spawning some kind of “revolution.” The above photo and caption is a perfect example.

QUESTION: Is the above photo a representation of yoga “taking over” Times Square, or does it represent mainstream yogilebrity culture’s total reinforcing of Times Square? I’m going with the latter. For, I’m not sure what classifies a big take-over these days, but, apparently, you get a lot of capitalist schwag when it happens:

“Participants received a Solstice gift bag* and Athleta provided free Manduka yoga mats* to the first 1,500 that arrived to each class. Between classes, yogis enjoyed an Athleta Fashion show and music from Prasanna. Plus, there were lots of free giveaways, raffles and more at the Solstice Yoga Village.”

Not to mention, you get to see yourself on the JumboTron!

Now that’s revolutionary!

Look, by all means use the master’s tools to mess with the master. But, for goodness sake, don’t just sit there polishing them!

Anyway, in the late seventies and early eighties, four black Rastafarians from Washington, DC formed a band called Bad Brains and, in the center of a vastly strung-out white-dominated punk scene that existed within the confines of one of the most racially tense cities in the country, became one of the most influential punk bands to walk the face of the Earth. They wrote a song called “Big Takeover.” Seems appropriate:


  1. Greenpoint

    I don’t know about you but a big part of why I practice yoga is to “unplug” from the mainstream system/nonsense, activities like this are part and parcel of a way to co-opt yoga, eviscerating it of its personal transformational qualities while leaving something that can be plugged into the hive in a non-threatening way…

    just sayin’…

  2. thank you for this. i live in chicago, where yesterday there was a lululemon-sponsored yoga clustercuss in wrigley field. they did a yoga wave! then a yoga rave! can anybody tell me what those two terms even mean? anyway, my facebook feed was blowing up with people all excited about their big yoga party, and i just thought… when did it become not enough to just roll out your mat and practice in your living room by yourself? or go to your local, uncorporatesponsored yoga studio, and practice?

  3. Yogically speaking

    I read about this in the Bible! It starts with a locust plague. Creatures with human faces “their hair like women’s hair.” It looks like they’ve already descended on Times Square. Next, I believe, is Central Park. Scripture says this plague will last 5 months. The End Times are near!

    “In appearance the locusts were like horses arrayed for battle; on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair.” Revelation 9:1-11

  4. Bwahahaha! That locust bit had me wetting my pants, We are what we are, us Westerners. We like shopping, and we like free stuff even more. Personally, I am a fan of anything that publicises the cult. Er, I mean yoga. Imagine if we all drank the yoga Kool Aid and became nicer people? Maybe I could grab me a few free goodies en rout to enlightenment…

  5. ryan

    Dear Shiva, please hurry up and put an end to this Yuga. Thanks

  6. yogaweed

    Definitely reinforcing not taking over… and while you would not find me anywhere near an event like this, it is, in its creation and setup preferable to the GLBL cluster – at the very least its not hiding the fact that it is simply a shameless corporate plug…

  7. gross

    i wonder what the laughing lotus teacher was thinking in her head as she prepared this class? was it, “how do i get a ton of people to have fun?”, “is there a way to make sure everyone has an access point from a physical point of view?”, “what should i wear?”, “what music will make sure everyone is rocking out to the music so the yoga is 2ndary to the party?”, “what should i make my two robots on stage wear?”, “why am i doing this?”. feel free to join in others. its just seems like a crazy set-up. trying to teach thousands of people from a stage. but it doesn’t whack me out as much as gblb yoga thing. i doubt anyone made any money for this. perhaps, but i don’t think so.
    NOTHING sounds less appealing to me than sort of doing yoga in a gutter on broadway.

  8. clearcutter

    I was in the crowd for the class at 12:30 with Rajashree, 5-time undefeated yoga asana champion and Bikram’s wife. I, too, was squeemish at the thought of this event but a friend who had a ticket asked me to go in her place since she couldn’t go herself. I got myself excited to be there, and I had a lot of fun. People seemed excited to practice with such a large crowd and there was a palpable supportive energy in the group. One neat thing was that I felt connected to my body while we practiced, and not absorbed in the commotion of the city around me. It was a great experience to stay with that connection in the face of the crazy of the city and the crazy of the event itself. And Rajashree finished her class by sharing with us a poetic translation of verses 2.61-2.65 from the Gita. It’s no small thing to share a message like that with 14,000+ people who may have never been exposed to such a teaching anywhere else.

  9. Yogically speaking

    Not just “fun,” Baba. Deep, ineffable, prosperity-enhancing bliss. I’m reminded here of the electricity that shot up my little locust leg last August when I read about Texas governor Rick Perry – himself a “5-time undefeated champion” – sponsoring a National Day of Prayer. Perry proceeded to read several passages from the Bible, and according to the New York Times, thousands of people stood or kneeled in the aisles or on the concrete floor in front of the stage, some wiping away tears and some shouting, “AMEN!”

    “Lord, you are the source of every good thing,” Mr. Perry said. “You are our only hope, and we stand before you today in awe of your power and in gratitude for your blessings, and humility for our sins. Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness.”

    Let the insect$ rule.

  10. Yogically speaking

    Whoa, Baba Ganesh: Those three Brothas on the Jumbo Tron? Those couldn’t be the three guys playing……No, it couldn’t be right? Jonesing for another Big Takeover, what, like thirty years later? Because, if it is, I might as well just spread ’em for GLBL myself. Don’t tell me – you invited them, right?

  11. this with the ‘white yoga’ is starting to mimic the Nuremberg rally


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