Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.
Two recent yoga-in-the-news pieces that you'll want to curl up with:
First, from yesterday's Salon, an interview with magazine editor and journalism professor Robert Love, author of the new book, The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. There's a helluva lot of hubris involved with assuming your one history of yoga in the West is thorough, and from what I can tell, this book leaves out a lot; the study of the Americanization of yoga is rich, and there are so very many angles from which you can approach it. But take this one for what it is, dig into this eccentric Pierre Bernard creature who's featured in it, and glean from it what you can.
The interview touches on a few recent hot topics in American yoga, including commodification, doggy yoga, and - ahem - "yoga as home-wrecker." (Dangerous! I love it.) Author Love says that
It's fair to say that there was an American war against yoga in 1910 and the years afterward. Yoga had morphed from being the pastime of harmless eccentrics to something that was dangerous and subversive and possibly hurting the virtue of American women. It was based on some cases in which women gave away some amount of their fortunes to Indian swamis. In 1911, the Washington Post reported that the government was looking into this, conducting investigations. And certainly the fear that it was unleashing the sexuality of women. In the 1910s, the exoticness of it, the Orientalness of it, always came associated with loose sexuality. This wasn't American Christianity.He goes on to address the vaguely "gauzy" spirituality of contemporary yoga, along with a few other tidbits on dogma and upstate New York. Check it out. (And zip through this excerpt from the first chapter while you're at it - thanks, NYT!)
Then mosey right on over to this sharp piece from last week's Sunday Times, which is actually referenced in the Salon interview. "Yoga's New Wave" addresses the upswing in "scrappy, populist, yoga-to-the-people" donation-based studios to counter the increasingly elitist emphasis on overpriced gear and rockstar teachers. I love this. I love this. I wish I could express how very much
I LOVE THIS.
Pet peeve's always been that notion that cute sports bras and adorable headbands make you a yogi. Fuck that. Sweat and breath and presence make you a yogi. Period. This "yoga-to-the-people" movement de-emphasizes the yoga "scene" and brings the focus back to the mat. Which is, of course, exactly where it should be. Get in there.
The Yogification of America (Salon.com)
Excerpt: "The Great Oom" (NYT)
A Yoga Manifesto (NYT)