Hot yoga - the unanticipated whipping boy of a dinner party discussion about the Shiva (destruction)-Shakti (creation) of yoga - eventually caught a break, though the humorous litany at the table continued.
"There's an epidemic of women taking up yoga then leaving their husbands!"
"I really, really hate chanting."
"I can't stand instructors blathering about their day, how they were pissed off in line at the grocery store and then, somehow, let it all go. I'm paying for this shit - I only have an hour here!"
Gossip, innuendo, and contrarian sentiment is commonplace in any milieu (e.g. ski pros bitching about being ski pros), but even the profoundly enlightened can have their patience tested.
"People will always have opinions about everything," begins celebrated local yogi Julia McCabe. "Lots slag yoga without understanding what it's all about, yet only a handful are in it for the wrong reasons. The only thing that really bothers me is fake spirituality - the illusion that being a yogi requires talking in a sunshine and rose-fart kind of way. It's contrived and insincere."
How does someone who has made their living in the yoga world for years deal with the sudden deluge of exploitation?
"It's easy to be disturbed, but it's more important to stay on your own path and not worry what others are thinking or doing. Yoga is about getting to the root of our nature and that essence can't be rocked by clothing brands or how many mats get sold. That being said, I'd rather see a yoga studio on every corner than a Denny's."
That's so yoga. Something you'd expect from someone writing a book entitled Hong Kong Yogi Rat Pack Boom about her adventures teaching yoga around the world, who ran yoga teacher-training in Nicaragua that morphed, in the miraculous way things do for McCabe, into a lesson in sea-turtle conservation. And yet amazingly, for someone so deeply immersed, whose classes are a seamless mix of physical practice, philosophic crumbs and her own unpretentious, fun-loving ways, when yoga first reared it's head for McCabe she'd bolted. Like me, she was no quick convert.
"In Montreal a friend and I did a class in a cold, dark auditorium. I was sleepy and bored the entire time. This woman had us sitting around watching her belly while she breathed. It was all we could do not to laugh. Horrible. No spark in it. After that I just made fun of yoga people... until I moved to Whistler."
Aha. A contextual watershed is required. You have to find your way in. For McCabe it was a friend's invitation to check out a new studio-Neoalpine-and its charismatic founder Patrick Creelman. "You just wanted the kind of energy he put out," she recalls. "He lit the fire."