Mark’s Response to “Yoga Faces Regulation, and Firmly Pushes Back” by NewYork Times, July 10, 2009

Nearly 35 years ago I began my yoga journey in a small NYC loft with a yoga dude named Norman Allen. I was referred there by a very wise doctor, not surprisingly the team doctor for the Joe Namath led New York Football Jets. My impression of yoga prior to this experience was a skinny turban wrapped Indian guy making funny noises and twisting like a pretzel. To my surprise this was far from the case. Well except the skinny part, that Mr Allen was and believe still is. The surprise turned into my life long practice and passion. And that day taught this young slightly arrogant teen just how foolish a judgmental boy could be. What this very first class opened to me was a myriad of possibilities one can have when he doesn’t judge or try and control everything in his path. I was not adept at the class for a long time and I was made to understand that perfection was not the goal, actually there were no goals. Just practice and the will to improve, physically, mentally and spiritually. Well its 2009 and I’ve still never perfected this practice and I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned and even more grateful for what I still have to learn.

Here’s the problem at hand, not just with bureaucrats trying to get a “piece of the Yoga action” today, but with the majority of the yoga teachers and centers today. They’ve lost this passion for the practice. They’ve lost the love of the individual. They’ve lost their understanding of the meaning of yoga altogether. Yoga was never meant to be regulated, Yoga is not taught right at one studio and wrong at another because some false Guru, claims his or her way is the way of the truth. Yoga is balance and with balance comes the need for variety. It amazes me and not in a good way how many so called yoga studios and teachers try and convince their clients how perfect their way of teaching is and yet they condone such bastardizations of the practice as levels,props,music,walls,etc.,etc.. If you can show me anywhere in the Sutras where Hip hop and straps are mentioned or even alluded to I’ll eat my yoga mat. If you can show me where levels are a part of the practice according to the Sutras I’ll eat yours. What I’m getting at is the Yoga community itself is responsible for the state of yoga today and with it comes corrupt companies and governments who want to control these companies and coorporations. I’m very happy this yogini in NYC has taken a stand against the “powers that be” and is fighting for freedom in teachers training programs. I suggest however we take it a bit further and stop acting like such know it alls. Let’s instead be gratefull for this magnificient PRACTICE of love and understanding. This journey of flexibility and tremendous stregth. The next time you find yourself proud of the physical psoture your doing, take a deep breath and let go of this egotistical affair and instead celebrate the wonder of your higher self, that your not judging the posture by its regiments and instead embrace its power of self enlightenment. Let’s embrace our differences and cherish our variations of our teachings. This and only this will give us the freedom, we are all looking for in the discovery of one self.

Peace and Love to all and smile in every posture you PRACTICE

Namaste,

Mark Blanchard

Adjusting in Yoga Classes

Hello out there!

I rarely if ever get on a soap box about anything. Those of you who have taken my class or practiced any of my tape, know that I’m not one of those dogmatic, preachy types. I’d sooner give out the Mets or Jets scores than tell anyone how to or what to believe, eat, drink sing, dance etc. This being said here goes:

I believe in change and the beauty of personal freedoms. I believe in inner strength and personal responsibility. I believe in black, white, yellow, red and green. I believe in spirit, science and the laws of probabilities. I believe in practice and the art of letting go. I believe in acceptance, not levels or props or blocks or walls. I believe that every yoga room is a place for everyone regardless of their physical prowess or lack thereof. Whether their tall, short, fat, skinny or the next coming of Venus or Adonis. Young or old, Jewish or Catholic, Carnivore or Vegan, Pagan or Atheist. I believe in warmth, kindness and the healing powers of the human touch. I believe in union, fusion, balance….YOGA. I believe in LOVE!!!!!

My big question for you all is what do you believe in?

Lately, I’ve been seeing all these articles popping up accusing yoga teachers everywhere of misusing their classrooms for something creepy or abusive, just because they hug or caress or heaven forbid kiss a student. True it’s over 98% always a woman accusing a man, however I have seen a few comments of different scenarios. Well I’m not here to defend those accusations, I’m here to render them as the problem themselves. In a society where we regularly accept violence as the norm. Violence of all forms, of all ages, in all media, in every institution and so carelessly and commonly celebrated on the evening news. When I was a child, boxing with its regulations and rules to inhibit too much violence was about as bad as it got. Now we celebrate gladiators regularly doing permanent damage if not mortal to each other like it’s apple pie and baseball. However should a YOGA instructor kiss someone on the forehead in a gesture of love, hang the bastard, is the cry!!

Here’s my promise to you all, I will continue to love my fellow man and woman. I will continue to hug, kiss, massage and embrace each and every student, unless asked otherwise. I will continue to hug strangers on the street as if they were long lost friends. I will make no excuses for my kind and loving actions. I will stay after my classes and embrace any student who wants to share some love. I will continue to teach without props, devices, music, chairs, cars, planes or automobiles. And will always give the most intense, kick ass experience I can dream up every time we come to the mats! I will never tell a student their in the wrong class because of his or her “level”. I will continue to teach YOGA!!! I will continue to hug my wife and three children every day and instill upon them to do the same.

I will continue to LOVE!!! LOVE!!! LOVE!!!

Namaste XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO,

Mark Blanchard