Reblogs,  Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy

Lets Make Yoga More “Average”

I have been reading Seth Godin, a business blogger,  for years. I don’t read him for business advice though. I read him for life advice because what he says often is applicable to every day situations.  He posted this gem today and it made me think of yoga.

Every committee or organization has at least one well-meaning person who is pushing to make things more average.

“On behalf of the masses, the uncommitted, the ones who don’t care, we need to dumb this down, smooth out the edges and make it more average. We need to oversimplify it, make it a bit banal, stupid even. If we don’t, then some people won’t get the joke, won’t be satisfied, or worse, complain.”

And, by amplifying the voice of the lizard brain, he gets under our skin and we back off, at least a little. We make the work a little more average and a little worse.

This is the studio executive who demands a trite plot, with the usual stereotypes and tropes, played by the usual reliable actor types.

This is the record producer who wants the new song to sound a whole lot like the last song.

This is the NGO executive who fears that the new campaign will offend some minor donors…

Yes, it’s true that the remarkable, edgy stuff we wanted to make wasn’t going to be embraced by everyone. But everyone is rarely the point any more.

In the service of honest communication, perhaps the one who makes things worse should acknowledge that this is what he does for a living. That way, if we want things to be a little more average, we’ll know who to ask.

 

 

vasistasana425

I am going to take the article and change a few words and make it apply directly to yoga.

The yoga world has people who are well meaning and are pushing to make things more average.

On behalf of the masses, the people who practice yoga randomly and or rarely, the one’s who don’t really care about the future of yoga, we need to dumb yoga down, smooth out the edges and make it more average. We need to oversimplify it, make it banal, stupid even. If we don’t, then some won’t get it, won’t be satisfied, or even worse complain.

And, by amplifying the voice of the lizard brain, he gets under our skin and we back off, at least a little. We make the yoga a little more average and a little worse.

This is the student/yoga studio/teacher/blogger who demands a trite yoga class, with the usual poses, taught by the typical easy to identify with All American looking teacher.

This is the student/studio/ teacher/blogger who wants the new yoga class/workshop/book/blog post to sound a whole lot like the last one.

This is the student/studio/teacher/blogger who fears that the new class/workshop/book/ blog post will offend someone

Yes, it’s true, that the remarkable dynamic yoga class/blog/workshop/book  we wanted to make wasn’t going to be embraced by everyone. But everyone is really not the point because when the student is ready, the teacher will come.

In the service of honest communication, perhaps the one who makes things worse should acknowledge that this is what he is really trying to do. That way, if we want yoga to be a little more average, we know who to ask.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

2 Comments

  • J. Brown

    From one student/yoga studio/teacher/blogger to another, I want to push back on this post some. I am also a fan of Seth Godin and received the same email this morning as well. But when I read it I did not get that he was casting any aspersions. Seemed to me he was talking about the tendency in marketing to use proven techniques that dumb things down to maximize sales, as opposed to making quality things that are successful only on a smaller scale. He equated “average” to things that sell well but are not challenging anyone’s sensibilities.

    However, in your yoga version where “trite’ yoga classes do only “usual poses” there is a clear implication that what makes yoga challenging is the accomplishment of the forms. So you equate “average” to simple practice that is not pushing the boundaries. I proffer that yoga is more nuanced than that. Challenging ones sensibilities can just as easily involve being measured as pushing it. In couching the inquiry in these terms you are making yoga more “average” and have done yourself a disservice.

    We hold different philosophical bents in yoga. But I follow your posts because you have a true viewpoint and I respect that. I am interested to know how you see things, even when I disagree. I don’t think Mr. Godin was trying to knock what anyone else is doing. He was pointing us in the direction of integrity and a more measured sensibility about driving sales. I feel that your attempt at equivalency did not do the original post justice.

    Respectfully.

    • admin

      Thank you J for your response. I absolutely get your view of Seth Godin’s work. It is totally possible that I misinterpreted it. I am totally human. I will have to say that I never said that a simple practice was average. That was no where in my post. I also did not mention anything about pushing either. I did not say that what makes yoga challenging is the accomplishment of forms. None of this was anywhere in my post. That is all interpretation from you. Thank you for reading though and submitting your well written response.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *