Happy Belated International Yoga Day!

 

official_rightwing_yoga_pantsI’m so utterly allergic to International Days of anything that yesterday’s Inaugural International Day of Yoga prompted me to skip my usual morning yoga practice, just out of orneriness.

And guess what. I spent all of yesterday feeling crabby, stressed, and tense. And today I woke up with a backache.

I’ve been doing yoga for a long time. A few decades. I discovered that it had a lot of surprising benefits way before it was a total poseur left-wing fad. And the greater part of me is pleased that it’s become so popular, given that it truly has improved my life, and I’m sure it improves the lives of many. While I’ve yet to experience some of the more extreme claims on made on yoga’s behalf — some of you may have noticed that I’m not Enlightened, for example — I’ve certainly experienced many of the more modest claims. Basically, without the combination of yoga and running (or some other kind of aerobic exercise), I’m intolerable. The aerobic part seems to be the key to mood elevation; the yoga part is the key to being — how to put it — well, let’s just say that without it, I’m a bit too aggressive to work and play nicely with others. Together, they keep me on a reasonably even keel. But if I miss one or the other, just steer well clear of me. You really won’t like me when my yin and my yang are all bollixed up.

So basically, I think it’s wonderful that so many people around the world have taken an interest in yoga.

But a petty part of me is highly aggrieved that yoga — which was an esoteric hobby but not a political statement when I took it up — has come to be associated with pretty much everything I loathe. In fact, I wrote about this back when Ricochet first opened its doors:

There are quite a number of issues and tastes that seem arbitrarily, or by accidents of history, to be associated with Utopianism, Marxism, hostility to private property, anti-clericalism and the other authentic core beliefs of the Left. Why, for example, is it a near-certainty that I can scandalize every other participant in any yoga class I attend, anywhere in the world, by declaring myself an avid admirer of Margaret Thatcher? I challenge you to read the yoga sutras and conclude from them that devotees of yoga must favor inflexible labor markets and an over-regulated financial sector. I challenge you to conclude anything at all from them, in fact; they’re more or less inscrutable. About the only certain thing you can say is that the yogic sages took a dim view of ignorance and craving, as do we all, I’m sure. It’s hardly a view that puts Patanjali next to Bakhunin in the pantheon of revolutionaries.

I love animals. I hate communists. There’s really no inconsistency in these views. There’s hardly even an intersection. Why yoga, of all things, should be seen as the purview of the Left, I have no idea, especially since yoga is almost exclusively the pastime of privileged, upper-middle-class bourgeois white women; indeed, you could pretty much scrap the UN’s human development index and assess a nation’s level of development by measuring the number of yoga studios per capita.

Had I not been doing yoga for some twenty-odd years, I’m pretty sure the hype about International Yoga Day would have been sufficient to ensure I’d never try it. Anything the U.N. General Assembly officially declares worthy of a “day” is something I know I’m against.

Fortunately, I acquired the habit long before the U.N. took an interest in it, so I’ll just keep on enjoying it the other 364 days of the year, except for moon days. (No, I do not believe in “moon days.” But I now believe in the principle the yoga sages seem to have been getting at, which is that you’d best take a regular day off to rest, whether you think you need it or not. I believe this because I’ve noticed that if I don’t, I get overuse injuries. So “moon days” it is. And it turns out a lot of yoga nomenclature is like that; it’s pretty much common-sense, after you de-woo it.) Anyway, yoga-with-cats (YwC) is a yoga sub-speciality of its own, usually assumed to be entirely the purview of the fruitcake left. Here’s a video of me doing YwC. Here I am a short time later, addressing the 2014 Ronald Reagan symposium. Going from one to the other doesn’t cause me any kind of intellectual (or physical) whiplash at all.

What about you? Do you have any hobbies or passions or favorite places that have been, if not ruined for you, precisely, slightly tainted by their association with or adoption by people whose political opinions you just loathe? (Whole Foods falls squarely in that category for me. Actually, so does the entire nation of France.)

 

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  1. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    This could mean you are a squish like the other Ricochet yoga enthusiast….RobLong.  That said, I am fine with women doing yoga because that has brought about one of my very favorite things…..yoga pants.  Mike LaRoche can I get a second??  :)

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @KermitHoffpauir

    Meh to most of these unworthy of international or even national days.

    The recent weekend saw meme circulating social media is National No Panties Day, June 22nd.

    • #2
  3. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    Vol – you wear yoga pants?!?!

    • #3
  4. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Farmer’s markets. Well-crafted serial television dramas. NPR. Foreign travel.

    Basically all of the stuff white people like.

    • #4
  5. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    All grade B tv dramas, super heroes, super spies, all seeing, all knowing good guy pursuing black helicopter riding public or private armies,  but especially Fair Trade coffee, not because it’s a fraud and numbingly stupid like the former, but because they purposely eliminated the people who know how to select and roast coffee.

    • #5
  6. user_75648 Thatcher
    user_75648
    @JohnHendrix

    NPR.

    On the plus side they attempt to take the news seriously.  For example, broadcast news thinks 90 seconds on a single story is generous.  NPR thinks nothing about lavishing five minutes on a story.

    On the minus side it is like having someone read the NYT to you.

    • #6
  7. user_75648 Thatcher
    user_75648
    @JohnHendrix

    California.

    • #7
  8. user_75648 Thatcher
    user_75648
    @JohnHendrix

    The NYT cooking website.  It is excellent.  But I am dismayed it is hosted by the NYT.

    The existence of the NYT cooking website complicates my abstract dislike of Lefties.

    • #8
  9. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    John Hendrix:California.

    Oh, me too. Most-obvious example, actually.

    • #9
  10. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Matthew Gilley:Vol – you wear yoga pants?!?!

    Oh good lord no!!!  I appreciate yoga pants on the fairer sex.

    • #10
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: …yesterday’s Inaugural International Day of Yoga prompted me to skip my usual morning yoga practice, just out of orneriness.

    Um, Claire, yesterday was a different international day, at least around here.

    • #11
  12. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    Crisis averted.

    • #12
  13. Podkayne of Israel Member
    Podkayne of Israel
    @PodkayneofIsrael

    I do like yoga.

    Ben & Jerry’s, whole wheat, neti pots, essential oils for scenting the room or doing massage, goofy-looking but comfortable sandals and shoes, meditation (I have even been known to use chakra meditations, because I was so astonished to find that their colors matched with the colors I had always intuitively used while doing relaxation exercises), satin eye pillows stuffed with little round heavy things and lavender, good vegetarian cooking (or what we kashrut observers call “milchiks”).

    • #13
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Podkayne of Israel:I do like yoga.

    Ben & Jerry’s, whole wheat, neti pots, essential oils for scenting the room or doing massage, goofy-looking but comfortable sandals and shoes, meditation (I have even been known to use chakra meditations, because I was so astonished to find that their colors matched with the colors I had always intuitively used while doing relaxation exercises), satin eye pillows stuffed with little round heavy things and lavender, good vegetarian cooking (or what we kashrut observers call “milchiks”).

    Yeah, the commies spoiled all of those things for us. I like the taste of whole wheat better. I honestly do. And lavender — why shouldn’t that be ours, culturally? How’d the left get its hands on the lavender?

    • #14
  15. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Podkayne of Israel:I do like yoga.

    Not sure I like it for itself, but plenty of yoga moves are used in physical rehabilitation, and I like those!

    …neti pots, essential oils for scenting the room…

    With you on essential oils, mainly because I like things that smell good, and EOs’ single-ingredient nature makes avoiding certain respiratory triggers easier (the “secret recipe” nature of the fragrance and flavor industry means you never really know what’s in a compounded fragrance). But oh noes, not neti pots! They work great for some sinus problems, I understand, but not mine. They clog, rather than rinse out, my sinuses, causing unfortunate and unpredictable floods days later. Nosedrool is bad enough. Nosedrool that causes a spontaneous wet T-shirt contest? Really embarrassing.

    I guarantee you wet T-shirt contests becomes a lot less sexy when the source of the abundant moisture is the woman’s own nose.

    • #15
  16. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Yoga pants ruined America.

    • #16
  17. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: What about you? Do you have any hobbies or passions or favorite places that have been, if not ruined for you, precisely, slightly tainted by their association with or adoption by people whose political opinions you just loathe?

    “World music”, sorta. I sometimes purchase sheet music from an outfit named “earthsongs”. No, really, that’s what it’s called.

    I’m not much of a loather by nature, but others Americans’ assumption that appreciating music from any source other than our glorious Western musical heritage must mean you must ascribe to certain politics does get rather old.

    And then there are other weird wrinkles, like finding out that skinheads in Europe have apparently appropriated a perfectly innocent Karelian wedding ballad as some sort of theme song (would link to the relevant YouTube video, but I believe it has been removed for its Nordic Pride associations – anyhow, you can find the ballad hosted by someone without such associations here).

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @FrontSeatCat

    What I thought was going to be an innocent story about yoga, which I really liked (like the cat pose – my cat does it every morning and all thru the day), then about weird international holidays, had to comment.

    First, thank you for highlighting your benefits with yoga – not kidding – this is encouraging. I have scoliosis and back pain a lot – stretching helps, but the discipline of regular yoga would maybe help more. Loved the article you wrote when Ricochet opened – sums it up for me too.

    Second, I like National holidays, a few in particular: “National I Love Lucy Day” – but oddly is combined with National Grouch Day – who knew?  Found out yesterday was Nati0nal Hollerin Day – I used that one.  There are so many they combine them – something for everyone!

    http://nationaldaycalendar.com/2014/10/14/october-15-2014-national-i-love-lucy-day-national-fossil-day-national-grouch-day/

    Yoga reduces stress and makes one more calm? I needed Claire’s article today after almost spitting out my morning coffee when reading this morning’s headline (I’ve already pulled out my yoga mat):

    http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2015/06/pentagon-building-cruise-missile-shield-defend-us-cities-russia/115723/

    So to all at Ricochet….Happy National Chocolate Eclair (US)/ Anti-Fascist Struggle Day (Croatia)!

    • #18
  19. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    I’ve recently become somewhat interested in Zen Buddhism. Not for any spiritual or religious reason, but because I have discovered that many insights I’ve arrived at independently turn out to be Zen concepts. There seems to be a lot of value there, if you strip away the mysticism.

    But the whole thing seems to have been hijacked (in this country, at least) by the kind of anti-science progressive nutjobs that drive me crazy. Hanging out with such people doesn’t sound like a path to inner peace.

    I guess I’ll just have to read some books or something.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Tommy De Seno:Yoga pants ruined America.

    Someone did a post about that a while back, if I remember. ;^D

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.:I’ve recently become somewhat interested in Zen Buddhism. Not for any spiritual or religious reason, but because I have discovered that many insights I’ve arrived at independently turn out to be Zen concepts. There seems to be a lot of value there, if you strip away the mysticism.

    I once heard Zen described as Taoism filtered through Buddhism.

    • #21
  22. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Front Seat Cat:First, thank you for highlighting your benefits with yoga – not kidding – this is encouraging. I have scoliosis and back pain a lot – stretching helps, but the discipline of regular yoga would maybe help more.

    Okay, a quick caution. I’ve heard countless stories of yoga injuries, and I’ve had a few, too. Doing too much, too soon, is extremely ill-advised. A good teacher will discourage you from doing that, but there are far more bad teachers out there. And given the newfound popularity of yoga, there are lots of classes in which people get very competitive, and if you’re at all competitive — as most of us are — you will be tempted to overdo it at first.

    Don’t.

    Especially if you’re prone to back pain. Take it 20 percent easier than you think you can easily do for a couple of weeks. Assess the effect on your back. If it’s neutral or positive, take it 15 percent easier for the next couple of weeks. Etc.

    Yoga’s not going anywhere. If it’s helpful for you it will be a lifetime thing, so there’s no need to rush. A lot of the poses that are helpful to me and that keep me from getting back pain would (and indeed have) left people I know in a lot of pain. You don’t want to be using the wrong muscles to do them — and you don’t want to find out which muscles are the wrong ones the hard way.

    But if you promise take it very easy at first, and work up to the more challenging postures very slowly, I think I can be quite encouraging: it’s not just my anecdotal evidence, there’s a lot of real evidence to suggest that yoga can be very helpful for some kinds of back pain. (Mind you, these aren’t gold-standard (double-blind) trials and they can’t be, because the participants are always going to know they got the yoga pill, not the placebo. But they’re still a form of trial that’s worth more than, “Someone I know on Ricochet said it helped her back pain.”)

    • #22
  23. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Front Seat Cat: Yoga reduces stress and makes one more calm?

    Yes. And this to a degree that’s really impressive. Most of us know (firsthand) that exercise has an anti-depressant effect, but I don’t know of any other form of exercise that has the same anxiolytic properties. There are of course tons of explanations for this widely-reported result (ranging from total woo to fairly quotidian), but again, lots of studies suggest that people who do yoga frequently show fewer biological markers associated with stress. Now, when I read a study like that, I always wonder about the correlation-causation issue — maybe something about people who end up doing yoga for a long time also causes them to have fewer inflammatory and endocrine markers associated with stress — but when I combine that with intuition based on my own experience, I reckon it’s causal. YMMV, but worth trying, for sure.

    • #23
  24. user_339092 Member
    user_339092
    @PaulDougherty

    Yoga has been a lefty identity marker since the Beatles. That is about 45 years of hip enlightenment.

    • #24
  25. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Paul Dougherty:Yoga has been a lefty identity marker since the Beatles. That is about 45 years of hip enlightenment.

    hip-joint-skeleton

    • #25
  26. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Paul Dougherty:Yoga has been a lefty identity marker since the Beatles. That is about 45 years of hip enlightenment.

    Weren’t the Beatles known more for their association with the sitar and transcendental meditation? Seems to me yoga itself only really caught on in the West about … when, last decade? It was basically as obscure as a taste for the sitar when I was a kid, by which point the Beatles were definitely known for being more popular than Jesus, so I wonder if that’s really the route it took? Might be.

    I don’t think I ever saw someone doing yoga when I was growing up — not once. Except maybe in National Geographic or something. Now pretty much every gym on every block in every city of every developed or even half-developed country offers a yoga class. When did that massive upsurge of interest take place?

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Paul Dougherty:Yoga has been a lefty identity marker since the Beatles. That is about 45 years of hip enlightenment.

    Weren’t the Beatles known more for their association with the sitar and transcendental meditation? Seems to me yoga itself only really caught on in the West about … when, last decade? It was basically as obscure as a taste for the sitar when I was a kid, by which point the Beatles were definitely known for being more popular than Jesus, so I wonder if that’s really the route it took? Might be.

    I don’t think I ever saw someone doing yoga when I was growing up — not once. Except maybe in National Geographic or something. Now pretty much every gym on every block in every city of every developed or even half-developed country offers a yoga class. When did that massive upsurge of interest take place?

    While I will agree that the proliferation of yoga studios is more recent, I also agree with Paul that it has been visible and associated with the left as long as I can remember. (And I am older than you, whippersnapper.)

    The more interesting thing is that I have seen articles saying that the physical practice of yoga, not the spiritual ideas, actually was derived from British military calisthenics and stretches from when they ruled Inja. That isn’;t to say it wasn’t redeveloped and given new names, just that this was the basis.

    • #27
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Ah, more broadly Western according to this article:

    In turn, the physical aspects of yoga were hybridised with drills, gymnastics and body-building techniques borrowed from Sweden, Denmark, England, the United States and other Western countries.

    • #28
  29. user_339092 Member
    user_339092
    @PaulDougherty

    The actual level of actual participation aside, the logic is thus:

    Yoga is Eastern

    Eastern is superior to Western

    Yoga is cool.

    A leftwing syllogism (different variation of an actual syllogism).

    • #29
  30. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Aaron Copland.

    • #30
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