Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sex is Popular, in Yoga and Politics

Just came out of my Yoga-lattes class, rolled mat in hand, to read the NY Times story about fallen Yoga guru John Friend, who was apparently more-than to many of the female adherents of his self-developed Anusara yoga.

The article details Tantric roots of the philosophy, where sexuality is a major part of its gestalt.  I can't say that the fifteen ladies in our unsteady downward-facing dogs, happy babies and pigeon poses were excited by anything more than being able to hold a "teaser," but Mr. Friend stands accused of financial malfeasance, Wiccan sexual activities, and, I'm sure, violating his community's ethical principle called "Brahmacharya," which involves "Practicing sexual moderation, restraining from sexual misconduct, and avoiding lustful behavior. Includes sexual chastity."

Ethical guidelines for teachers on the Anusara website also admonish, "When sexual attraction occurs between you and a student, be very disciplined and mindful to avoid any adharmic behavior. Never give an improper or imbalanced amount of attention to an attractive student or one with whom you are in an intimate relationship while in the classroom. Outside the classroom develop any intimate or romantic relationship slowly and do not act on sexual attraction until a steady trust in the relationship has developed."

I won't comment on the grammar that suggests an "intimate relationship while in the classroom," but in case you're wondering, "adharmic" is a Hindu yoga term for a-(against) dharmic (laws of the universe).  At present, Friend has dropped out of sight and sold half of Anusara to Israeli Michal Lichtman, who promises a re-vamp. Ohmmmmm.

Jump now to an observation by Fave Radio Host, marveling at Rick Santorum's stomach-dropping plunge in Rasmussen GOP likely-voter polls: he went from a lead of twelve points to a deficit of 16 points, a breathataking swing of 28 points in just 14 days. Yesterday's (Feb. 29) respondents picked Romney, 40% compared to Santorum's 24%; just two weeks ago Santorum was up, 39% to Mitt's 27%.

 My Cultural Crusader had an astute analysis of Righteous Rick's self-destruct: "Could it have something to do with deciding to rant against contraception, pre-natal testing, college, JFK, working women, separation of church and state, and more? Alex Castellanos said it very well. 'Republicans are in trouble if the public gets the idea that we're against sex. Sex is popular.'"

Sex is indeed popular, though inappropriate in some contexts and unrestrainable in others. I notice that John Friend's "Igniting the World 2012 Tour" appearances through June are all "postponed."  Similarly, if Republicans hope to make headway by November, they've got to refocus the debate away from bedrooms and into pocketbooks, as well as the deep trench known as Obama's $1.2-trillion deficit, and a national debt that CBS News notes is "more than the total national debt of about $4.1672 trillion accumulated by all 41 U.S. presidents from George Washington through George H.W. Bush combined."

This Shabbat is Washington State caucus day, and my husband and I are planning to walk to our local precinct site to participate. Super Tuesday is a blink away.  I do think Sen. Santorum cooked his goose with his unsolicited opinions on sexuality, and clearly plenty of others are crying fowl, er, foul, in the yoga world, including the NY Times article writer William Broad, whose new book evaluates the totality of yoga and concludes that despite scandals and risks, it offers "more good than harm."

Let us only hope that the candidate succeeding in November will do the same.

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