According to Elena Brower, Some People Critique GLBL YOGA to “literally gain eyeballs” /// GLBL YOGA Apologists Get Weird

Last week marked Yoganonymous’ turn to post a GLBL YOGA apologist piece. This time it came complete with a streamed interview with celebriyoga’s most ubiquitous self-help matriarch, Elena Brower. Before the interview was a very strange pseudo-defense of GLBL YOGA by Jennifer Cusano, as well as a major verbal back rub for the teacher in question. It’s a tough read, so if you ain’t got the stomach to work your way through the massage of it all—and it will take one cast in iron to do so—we’ve cut out some of the best parts for you to read.

Below are some notable quotables followed by our short responses:

“When you put thousands of people in the same place, most of them presumably yogis, all of them there to concentrate on and physically show their humble devotion to the world and it’s inhabitants around them, you better believe that it will create a tangible force of energy.” (Cusano)

This statement is extremely presumptuous and about as vapid as a GWB speech on helium.

First, “presumably yogis?” As opposed to what? Non-yogis? I thought yoga was whatever you wanted it to be. Can’t I just show up, take a monster dump on the person next to me, and call it a day? I thought as long as I tell people I’m being selfless than that was yoga? Who the hell else is planning on showing up to this event?!

Awesome “Jersey Shore” painting. More to be had here: http://www.hdrpainting.com/

And, how the hell does the author know the inner intentions of all fifteen thousand people? You only need five minutes of a decent one-hour therapy session to realize that 99% of your acts of “humble devotion” are really veils behind which you hide your ugly self-centered ambitions. You’ll spend the rest of the session trying to not beat yourself up over it. Seriously. Did I miss the memo here?

Then there’s this bit:

“I want to take part in this opportunity to stand in solidarity and create a fathomable force of love and gratitude with the very real ability to send it’s adoration vibrations rippling out to the surrounding world.” (Cusano)

To fathom something means to measure it. That being the case, since when are “love” and “gratitude” bound to the restricted limits of the scientific method? Since when is measuring the boundless sea of uncontainable self-immolating and rapturous love something to be quantified? What kind of soul-Nazi do you have to be to want to do that?

But then there’s this following bit: What most confused me about the piece was the author’s odd assertion that in her interview with Elena Brower, she found her to be so very “clear,” only to follow this claim with a quote from Ms. Brower regarding criticism of the event stating that “There are just so many people who are writing to literally gain eyeballs.”

Now, I’m not sure about you, but I have an extremely hard time “gaining eyeballs.” It’s like, whenever I almost “gain” one, it falls out of my bloody hand onto the floor, and then I’m forced to bend over and try and “regain” it, but I can’t, because all the other eyeballs I “gained” keep slipping out of my pocket.

Oh, Ms. Brower. If you are reading this, please know that it takes more than a couple of fart jokes and nasty words to “gain” an eyeball. I know it’s hard to believe when a person spends most of his/her time navigating through a sea of puckered ass-kissing lips, but sometimes actual substance can have a readership. Perhaps, criticizing this farce of a cause has more to do with distrusting yoga hobbyists and over-hyped yogilebrities whose teachings are really just o-kay than it does with “gaining an eyeball.”

But, then there’s the interview with Elena Brower itself where we find this:

“We just want to get together and practice yoga.” (Elena Brower)

Really? That’s it? What about saving little brown children from dying of starvation, a GLBL epidemic arguably maintained by the very lifestyles many celebriyogis choose to live by? Do you even know how empires come about and how they maintain their dominance?

And this:

“We want to create a field of energy.” (Elena Brower)

Let’s see…. In 2007 an estimated 70-million people attended the Ardh Kumbha Mela in Haridwar and Allahabad, India for forty-five days. Roughly 2600 times the amount of people intended to arrive at GLBL YOGA. Many, if not all, of those in attendance were connected, largely through oral discourse, to ridiculously deep yogic traditions dating back at least a thousand years. While estimates of the event’s physical origins place its birth around 1700 BCE, roughly 4,000 years ago, when river festivals were beginning to become organized, the first written account of the event by an outsider occurred in the mid-seventh century.

The other “Jersey Shore”

And yet, yesterday another person had her face chewed off in China by a drunk guy.

Perhaps epic gatherings of spiritually-motivated people are not really about saving the world. Maybe it’s time yogilebrities aimed a little lower, and toned down all that privileged arrogance that assumes every forward fold done with “good intentions” has a positive effect on anyone outside the economic bracket of the practitioner involved. Make no mistake. The effects of large gatherings are, in my opinion, real. However, the way in which this energy will play out is governed by something much larger and more complex than your dance party in the park.

Then there’s this:

“People create controversy for no reason.” (Cusano)

In my experience this is rarely the case. From what I’ve seen, people create conflict and descent when some fundamental need is not being met. Whether it be because a person does not feel loved, heard, or seen, people will often start clamoring about in text and body due to some wrong they feel needs righting.

What’s very interesting (if not entirely insulting), however, is the complete dismissiveness of any critique of the event, how it is being funded, and how events of this kind work to fabricate community that is then used to sell product. Sites like IAYB and YogaDork have questioned the event and the motivations behind it. We Babarazzi have gone a step further and questioned the entire “culture” of simulated solidarity that GLBL YOGA and its apologists attempt to fabricate.

Although, in the end, I think Babarazzi commenter, Alex Auder, has said it best:

“Would all of us who attend the GLBL event feel comfortable standing in front of a starving mother from Somalia and her three starving children and saying to her: “We did this for the world….”

I’ll make it easy for you. Try and say that to any Mexican who had to leave family and home and risk being murdered while crossing into this country so he could wash your dishes at your favorite farm-to-table fauxhemian fad restaurant. Seriously, I challenge you to look this person in the eye and say, “I did yoga in Central Park for you.” Then, learn some Spanish so you can understand the myriad of fluorescent ways in which hilarity will be made at your expense in the kitchen, you silly cholita.

30 comments

  1. Greenpoint

    well given the excerpts, I’ll just have to pass on reading anything further as I have enough things sucking the life out of me for the moment…

    watching the GWB video actually makes me realize what a special time it was when he was prez, in so many ways, that guy was capable of saying just about anything, anytime, anywhere…miss him

  2. Warriors and Goddesses

    well played as always Babarazzi, well played

  3. Yoga Observer

    Who wants eyeballs? Don’t the promoters of events like GLBL Yoga want eyeballs? Eyeballs is what it’s all about. Facebook, twitter, posts on The Babarazzi. We all want eyeballs and we should admit it. If we are forced to look at ourselves then the yoga might really start.

  4. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    The notion that good vibes in and of themselves can improve things in the physical world is often linked with the pseudoscience of Masaru Emoto; who claims that thoughts can change the molecular structure of water. Emoto has been exposed as a charlatan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masaru_Emoto

    Love this quote in the above link: “This watery fantasy is all very entertaining and imaginative, full of New Age feel-good platitudes, holistic oneness, consciousness raising, and warm fuzzies; but it’s hard to see how anyone could mistake it for science.”

  5. Yoga Observer

    Did anyone else notice that their budget has changed since it started. See YogaDork vs. Yoganonymous. Now they actually are budgeting their donations. Before it went to “marketing”.

  6. Linda-Sama

    brilliant, as usual. and thanks for the mentioning the Mela….I was in Haridwar in 2010 for the Maha. and these people claim their GLBL Yoga is going to be the largest yoga event? please. been there, done that, baby. and I didn’t see any Lulu Lemmings.

  7. gross

    If tomorrow’s piece can be a video rendering of the eyeball paragraph I wpuld be so happy! I experienced unstoppable laughter and tears that coming out of my eyeballs as I read your “eyeball” response! It was great as I wokr up with dry eyes, thanks Babarazzi! Love the Aauder quote. She’s special!

  8. so, instead of going to GLBL, what will you do with you day? So you can stand in front of this same Mexican or a starving mother holding a dying child? What will you do? What will you have us do?

    • That Guy

      I find Barbarzzi’s recommendations for alternatives to contemporary yoga culture and this event specifically to be very clear: give all 8 limbs (not just asana) a shot, do not accept everything branded as yoga as such, and think about the connection between your actions and the broader world. You may not see those recommendations or their applications to specific situations because, frankly, you don’t want to.

  9. Why would you want us to tell you what to do? Do as you like.

    • You came out so against the event, i ask you what would serve better?
      I now get a sad feeling your piece was only a poison pen to dis the event with no substance or alternative. Many people write under the umbrella of yoga. Apparently this does not make everyone ‘play fair’ or ‘be nice’..

      • Itstrue

        Oh Cathy! Clearly you have been intoxicated by the hype and wordy words of this Yoga Scene. And boy is it a scene. What will I do on that day? Well, I will go to my local studio and support my teachers who teach me. I will not continue to feed the already gigantic egos of yoga celebrities and their ever present need to be bigger and better. At least the babarazzi challenges the motivation of these people and the motivations of these events.

      • @cathywaveyoga: You are of course free to think what you will about our piece or any of the pieces on the site.

        As far as alternatives go, perhaps you can offer one. We are here to burn the old crop. It is our hope that in doing so an alternative will arise from those who have been inspired by us. Perhaps it will be you who will plant the new seeds. I look forward to whatever you or anyone else comes up with.

        Just remember. Yoga as a practice doesn’t need our or your help. Yoga “culture” on the other hand…. Well, sometimes it can use a little butt smack. The safe word of course being “cacao.”

      • gross

        Cathy, get close to any of these people and you’ll quickly see the sham. But in the meantime, go you for sticking up and rebelling against the rebellers! Good to see you have some fire!!!

      • Cathy: Often in life, doing nothing is the correct choice. For example, if you see a pan handler on the street, your empathy may compel you to give them money, but in reality this just lets them buy more booze and continue round and round the vicious cycle s/he is trapped in.

        If you happen to have money burning a hole in your pocket, perhaps you could setup an account with the micro-loan organization Kiva.org.

      • Cathy, my suggestion is that to create community and to create a long lasting steady yoga practice, studios and teachers around the world could unite in inviting people worldwide to take class free at their studios on that day.

        I have no problem with yoga teachers making money (most don’t), and have no issue with these specific teachers. They’re good teachers, with i hope the best of intentions, but they have lost sight of how this idea could be achieved in deeper, more meaningful way.

        My issue is with the event. It is the equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal (it doesn’t make anyone happy). This event is completely disposable. Everything about it is disposable, wasteful, and not sustainable. It sets a bad example, by connecting yoga practice to wasteful, thoughtless practices. Instead of spending so much money on electricity, permits, and branded merchandise that no one needs, the money raised be better spent using existing resources of local yoga studios. Synchronicity can happen without spectacle (=eyeballs), and be even more powerful.

        Quoting a wise local yoga teacher, Jessica Stickler: “sometimes people think that yoga (and anarchism) is about ‘doing whatever you feel.’ but actually, it’s about taking great care of others, which takes a tremendous amount of discipline and courage”.

  10. Thank you, Babarazzi, for for using a few of my words in today’s excellent piece. I was so thrilled that you posted something new today and extra-especially thrilled at the potential opportunity to gain more eyeballs as I find my original two are often not enough to see my own shite (that’s not a misspell) and extra extra titillated that today’s subject is GLBL, my current obsession….well, that, and inventing 2 new asanas with the working titles: stuckhaheadinasana & suckhameowntittiasana. But now you have forced me to procrastinate even more on trying to make a living and instead start posting links to your piece all over this barren land. Adios for now. x

  11. gross

    The bliss of being a sheeptard.

  12. gross

    So funny, my BF just poked my eye, I got upset and said, “thanks for poking my right eye.” He said, “I was trying to gaim an eyeball.”. THAT was funny, and true.

  13. Yogically speaking

    I got mine! Get your own. I even got “gorilla medical appliance prosthetic” eyeballs. Nan-na. Na-na.

  14. Bobcat

    Thank you. This is heartfelt. I don’t believe that just showing up on the mat to move the body as instructed by a yoga teacher celebrity or not would transform the world or the person. We need critical thinking, right view (as suggested by the Buddha and some other fine dudes) and yes, a clear and open mind in order to practice yoga. Otherwise, yoga is just a vacation from the daily mundane relationships and responsibilities. It is not a big deal as we all find something to distract ourselves from time to time. But it pisses me off when these teachers market their teaching as something transformative and luminous. Elena’s words have no substance nor grounded in reality. I learn nothing from them. But yours, Babarazzi, not only widen my perspective are funny and resonate to the core.

  15. P.S. is the code word “cacao” from PORTLANDIA? If so then: “put a bird on it!” xxx

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