Shiva Rae at Burning Man /// TED Talks are More or Less Super Whack

With the exception of this TEDx video about how (and where) the body manifests pain….

….for the most part I find TED talks to be rather annoying, or as collapse theorist, Ran Prier, has called it “a wealthy techno-optimist circle jerk.” Where else, and on what popular level, can you find a bunch of people who publish pop-science telling you that it’s gonna be alright if only we tweak the shitstem just a touch? And, Ran’s not the only one buzz-killing the technoconsciousness zombification of action into practice (praxis), either. Philosophy, art and design theorist, Benjamin Bratton, does just that. Where? In a TEDx talk, of course:

But, once in a while TED gives us something very very special indeed. Something non-ordinary. At the end of the day, how many times do we need to hear Malcolm Gladwell organize everything for us in a nice little gift-wrapped package with a sensible bow?

Behold! Shiva Rea pontificating mystical dance at Burning Man:

Here’s the thing about Shiva Rea. On the surface she represents all that’s kinda throw-away-able in commercial yoga culture. DVD’s, the celebrification of teachersyoga festival culture, “beats.” Just tons and tons of commercial noise polluting the interwebs.

And, yet. Her thesis is pretty dope: Move. Find authenticity in your movement. Shake. All good stuff, right? Not to mention, when you get right down to it, she really was at the forefront of the “yoga as dance expression” scene that places like Laughing Lotus so desperately try to hang onto and validate for themselves. So, for that, I gotta give Rea props.

But, why can’t I trust her?


  1. Maha Garuda

    You know that Burning Man has become passe when the silicone boobage set wheels in with air conditioning and VIP seating. I don’t trust her because she leads with a mandatory agreement statement and insists that you nod your head in agreement before she imparts her truthiness upon the masses. She hardly brings anything new to the sermon on the mount.

  2. YogaDiabla

    Unwitting or not– fake tits or not, Burning Man, TED, who cares– she’s the patron saint of white female supremacist American yoga culture.

  3. Zodiyack

    The dubious part of “Yoga Trance Dance” is that the “Yoga” moniker is just marketing hype.

  4. Zodiyack

    BTW, same for “Shamanic Trance Dance”.

    • Agreed. But I still like my 5 Rhythms practice as popularized by Gabrielle Roth.

      The difference being is that the late Gabrielle Roth was in on the joke, imho, and did not try to pose (pun not intended) as authentic—either as shaman, healer or peace-pipe-weilder …

  5. the moment already came

    With regard to the study she’s quoting, Shiva Rea kinda misses the point in a way that is sadly characteristic of the boil-it-down-and-barf-it-up culture of yoga teachers who self-style their job as one of “shifting paradigms.”

    The study she is referencing, for anyone interested, is by Marcel Zentner: “Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy” (2010).

    First of all, the study found that infants DID move rhythmically to music like Mozart, which she says they did not. Perhaps this is because Shiva Rea does not play Mozart in her workshops; she spins Jock Jams with didgeridoo.

    Secondly, while infants moved rhythmically in response to music (of all kinds), they were actually pretty horrible at keeping time. Which is pretty excusable because, hey they’re babies, and I too find it hard to groove if I just shit in my pants.

    But the cool part, which she doesn’t mention at all, is that in the moments when they DID keep time, the babies showed a susbstantial spike in physiological markers of happiness. Which is nerd-talk for smiling. And no one knows yet why it should be so biologically ingrained, so hardwired to take pleasure at keeping the beat. That’s a mystery that Shiva Rea ought to be interested in spreading. But she traffics in answers, not questions these days.

    TED talks used to look like this: “Here’s a story about something fascinating I do. It led me to this awesome question that I don’t have the answer to. I wonder what you assembled thinkers who are different than I might say about it.”

    Now they look more often like this: “Here’s a thing I know about. The depth of my knowledge has made me awesome, yet with a nod to humility, so you can listen. You’re welcome. “

    • Easily one of my favorite comments thus far. Especially this:

      “they were actually pretty horrible at keeping time. Which is pretty excusable because, hey they’re babies, and I too find it hard to groove if I just shit in my pants.”

      You got the official LOL on that one.

  6. Greenpoint

    unfortunately she is irretrievably boring, vague ideas and nothing new spewing forth…and that’s just why she is “popular”, as she is absolutley harmless…

  7. Chai Fan

    I think in the beginning when she blasted the beats, she really expected everyone to get up and start shaking it around like she was. It appears though that they did not. Just a couple people on the sidelines. I’m not totally certain, but I just can’t go back and watch again. Maybe some light bopping around in the seats… (and I didn’t watch the whole thing so I don’t know if they eventually got up or what happens. I also don’t care.)

    Also, she and Kelly Morris could go head to head on vague historical jargon supporting their “theory”.

    • gross

      brilliant Chai Fan. her and kelly morris. i agree, she is talking about this REPRESSION of movement? wtf is she talking about? were humans all bound in ropes for the past 2000 years? her talking while out of breath is very obnoxious. she is just a wreck.

  8. The conspiracy theory community completely stopped listening to TED talks when they took down Graham Hancock’s talk on ayahuasca and Rupert Sheldrake’s talk last year, it showed up TED’s shallowness and narrow interests and that they really AREN’T interested in anything outside of their own scope. At all. Bratton is spot on, on this one. And I’ll listen to Hancock and Sheldrake any day over Shiva Rae when it comes to any discussion about consciousness.
    (BTW, WTF is going on with Shiva Rae in that vid? She looks like she’s some suburban divorcee mom at a rave in Buck Rogers boots?)

  9. Thaddeus

    “If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff…”

    Never was there better advice given to those embroiled in commercial yoga culture. Benjamin Bratton for President (of at least the Yoga Alliance)!

  10. Hey, jus git ur ‘Just Dance’ up on X-box!

    I’ve just Wikipedia’ed: **Mass Customization**. We can all be alarmed, joggled, amused, and SEE OURSELVES as consumers, –by getting ‘Mass Customization’ up on Wikipedia.

    Mainly though, I believe that dance has been part of yoga for a very long time.
    — Once a ‘student’ of yoga lets go a bit, and begins to create personal yoga, the dance comes in.
    — There’s a freedom that sets in, and dance is a spontaneous part of that.
    –No audible music even!
    Just –dance.

    • “–No audible music even!
      –Just –dance.”

      Oh, true enough. Due to extreme needs for cardio, I have had to have my dance, BE dance. Since I need low impact, need indoors, and need non-boring, it is cardio belly dance, traditional belly dance, and ecstatic dance … yes, music is involved there; and in the case of ecstatic dance, it is sometimes rockin’

      After all, living in New York, this place has always rocked … in two of its boroughs I’ve danced for exercise using music.

      But in three of its boroughs I have done music-free yoga practice. Not so much as wind chimes or Deva Premal …

      It’s not that it was never led practice. At times it had been. But it’s a personal home practice (at least for right now), not sequenced by a DVD star or a commercial audio download … but by myself, for myself … & not one-size-fits-all to a very great extent, either …

  11. PeggyB

    She obviously ties the repression of movement to 4th century Christianity yet her graphic for this (17.6) says ecstatic dance was “reduced to progression” 400 BC to 300 AD. Also if you want to find very refined non- free music and movement go to the classics of India, I don’t think the Christians had anything to do with imposing that.

  12. Hari Kari

    I wish yoga teachers would just do their thing and not talk. To a tee, they sound like dopes when they open their mouths. They are not the brightest bulbs on the planet.

    • amphibi1yogini

      They should shut up, in particular, shortly after guiding the class into savasana; and that savasana should last at least four or five minutes per hour of total class time.

      Leave taking shortcuts to your car service, and not guiding your students’ journey …

  13. Beenherebefore

    Practically every TED talk ever encapsulated below…

  14. Beenherebefore

    I recommend watching all the episodes. They only get better…

  15. Beenherebefore

    I particularly like this one…

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