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I’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.)