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  1. #166
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    While this idea has been bandied in martial circles for a few decades previously, it has been disproven by recent research. There are two major problems with this. 1. The Bodhidharma origin tale is apocryphal. 2. Yoga Asana as we know it doesn't develop until around the 10th, nearly half a millennium after Bodhidharma.
    The two major problems are really between the Lanka and the Vajracchedika, or the Yogacara and Madhyamika schools of thought around the time of Bodhidharma.

    Yeah, warrior pose was most likely created in 1940 and surely cannot be compared to horse-stances!

    PS. I just got my primary sources out of storage, so I should stop talking-out-my-ass like Wickedpedia just about anytime now, haha

  2. #167
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    7th International Day of Yoga

    International Day of Yoga: Muted celebrations due to Covid-19
    Published12 hours ago

    RIGHTGETTY IMAGES
    People in India and around the world are marking the seventh International Day of Yoga. But celebrations have been scaled down this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is known to be a yoga enthusiast, also avoided a mass session and instead chose to address the nation virtually to mark the occasion.

    GETTY IMAGES
    Over the years, Mr Modi has promoted yoga, often calling it India's gift to the world. On Monday, he said yoga had become a ray of hope for millions living in the middle of the pandemic. "No country was prepared when Covid-19 emerged. In these tough times, we all saw that yoga became a huge source of self-confidence," he said.

    How did yoga conquer the world and what's changed?
    Does yoga have a conspiracy theory problem?

    President Ram Nath Kovind also held a private yoga session at the presidential palace and several members of Mr Modi's cabinet held similar events across the country.

    Mr Kovind said yoga was a "unique gift of India to humanity". Defence forces have also posted photos and videos of troops marking the day.

    Officials and ministers also urged people to take to yoga but advised them to avoid big gatherings as the the country is just coming out from a deadly a second wave.

    Thousands died as hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of patients. The country is now slowly opening up as the number of cases has been consistently dropping in the last two weeks.

    HINDUSTAN TIMES
    Covid lockdowns meant that millions had to stay indoors. Experts say yoga can be helpful in such scenarios to overcome anxiety.
    NURPHOTO
    The ancient tradition which was once the preserve of gurus has now become a worldwide phenomenon. Every year, practitioners all over the world bring out their mats on 21 June to show their love for yoga.

    The UN declared in 2015 that 21 June every year will be marked as the Yoga Day. It said this year's theme focuses on "yoga for well-being". It said yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual amid the pandemic. It added that yoga played a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation.

    HINDUSTAN TIMES
    People in several parts of the world are also marking the day. In the picture below, people can be seen practising yoga at a park in front of the Three Gorges Dam in China's Hubei province.

    GETTY IMAGES
    And here, people at New York's Time Square can be seen practising yoga.

    ANADOLU AGENCY
    People also marked the day in Pakistan's Lahore city.
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    Gene Ching
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  3. #168
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    Tai Chi v Yoga would make a good movie

    Tai Chi vs. Yoga was the clickbait title but it doesn't show in the article itself. I am disappointed.

    The Difference Between Tai Chi & Yoga, Explained By A Trainer
    Gentle movements & synced breathing? Check. Here’s what else to know.

    Woman doing taichi in empty city early in the morning. Here's how tai chi vs. yoga compare.
    Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa/Photodisc/Getty Images
    By Jay Polish
    June 28, 2021
    As you’re heading back to your gym and trying to figure out which classes fit in with your new commute, you might find yourself torn between the different options. If you’re looking to boost your physical and mental fitness in one fell swoop, Tai Chi and yoga might both be vying for your 8 a.m. workout spot. But how do you choose between Tai Chi and yoga?

    What Are The Differences Between Tai Chi & Yoga?

    Tai Chi originated in China and is considered an internal martial art. “Tai Chi uses forms or predetermined sequences that focus on flowing, controlled movements; different stances; optimal posture; and rhythmic upper and lower extremity movements,” says Prentiss Rhodes, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. The practice places a big emphasis on your breathwork while moving.

    Yoga also focuses on flowing, controlled movements synced with your breathing, but Rhodes explains that the two practices are executed differently. “While yoga has some flow aspects to it, especially if one practices the Vinyasa style,” Rhodes says, Tai Chi is more dynamic. If you’ve ever stayed in Warrior II for a few full breath cycles, you’re probably familiar with the burn of holding yoga poses. But Tai Chi focuses more on cycling through relaxed postures than holding any given position. Because of that, Tai Chi is less likely to leave your muscles sore than yoga.

    Of course, there are plenty of gentle yoga flows and more physically intensive Tai Chi practices — but on average, anticipate breaking more of a sweat during yoga class.

    What Are The Similarities Between Tai Chi & Yoga?

    “Both yoga and Tai Chi are meditative, require focus, and help improve the strength and flexibility of the body,” Rhodes explains. “Both systems use coordinated breathwork when they are being performed.” You won’t need a lot of space for either of these movement practices — roughly the space of a yoga mat should do it. Both forms of exercise are low-impact and will be pretty easy on your joints.

    It’s not just about the similarities between the practices — it’s also about the benefits. Tai Chi and yoga have both been shown to help with high blood pressure and reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. Both practices can also improve your balance, full-body coordination, and your ability to sync your breath up with your movements, Rhodes explains.

    Should I Practice Tai Chi Or Yoga?
    You’re not cheating on your yoga instructor when you head to a Saturday morning Tai Chi class. Yoga and Tai Chi aren’t in competition with each other — instead, they’re pretty complementary. So you don’t have to look at it as one or the other: both are good. The choice on which class to attend is more about your own personal preferences.

    Experts:

    Prentiss Rhodes, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist
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    Gene Ching
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  4. #169
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    Do I need to start a Busted Yoga teachers thread?

    Yoga instructor accidentally breaks woman’s thighbone while attempting dragon pose, leaving her unable to walk
    The instructor put too much pressure on one of her legs, resulting in a broken thighbone
    The woman spent 16 days in hospital and says she still cannot walk

    Alice Yan in Shanghai

    Published: 9:00am, 1 Oct, 2021

    An X-ray shared by Wang shows her femur fracture after a yoga accident. Photo: new.qq.com
    A woman in eastern China said she plans to sue a yoga studio after the instructor accidentally broke her thighbone, or femur, during a class.
    The woman, surnamed Wang, was attending her first-ever private lesson taught by a woman surnamed Li at the end of August in Anhui province, the Xinan Evening News reported.
    During the class, Wang was told to practice the dragon pose, a hip-opening move with multiple variations stemming from a lunge-like posture.

    Wang is suing a yoga studio for future payments in her recovery. Photo: new.qq.com
    Wang said the teacher gave her instructions and said that her left leg was in the wrong position.
    “She was pushing down on my thigh, and pressed too hard. Suddenly, I just felt severe pain and could not move at all,” Wang was quoted as saying.
    It turned out she had broken her leg and required medical attention. Li called an ambulance to take Wang to hospital and doctors said she had a compound fracture on her femur and needed surgery.
    The studio had already paid 50,000 yuan (US$7,700) for her medical fees but refused to pay more when the woman asked for compensation for her future treatment.
    Wang was discharged from hospital after 16 days but said she still cannot walk.

    Wang said she cannot walk after the accident. Photo: new.qq.com
    She said she would take the studio to court because she felt they had not handled the situation appropriately.
    “I paid 6,000 yuan (US$928) from my own pocket for the medical treatment because the hospital charged 56,000 yuan (US$8,900) and the yoga studio only covered 50,000 yuan,” said Wang.
    “What’s more, there will be other costs for rehabilitation in the future and my work will be affected due to this injury. I want reasonable compensation.”
    The studio told the newspaper that it was preparing for the lawsuit.
    Orthopaedists in China said they had seen an increase in the number of visits due to injuries related to yoga, albeit usually not as serious as a fractured femur, state media Xinhua reported.

    Chinese doctors have been reporting more yoga-related injuries in recent years. Photo: new.qq.com
    At the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, doctors received three to four such patients per month, far more than years ago, the report said. Most of them were young women.
    Pan Jun, a doctor from the hospital’s orthopaedics department, said common problems caused by over-exercising in yoga are lumbar disc protrusions, ligament strains, muscle tweaks, knee damage, soft bone tearing and heel tendon injuries.
    “Many patients said that they felt it was hard to bear their weight when doing some yoga poses but would try to carry on. This way of practising, challenging the limit of human bodies, often causes bad results for their health,” Pan was quoted as saying.

    Alice Yan
    Alice Yan is a Shanghai-based social and medical news reporter. She started her journalism career in 2003 and has degrees in economics and public administration.
    Dragon pose is out of yin yoga. It's basically a lunge variation.
    Gene Ching
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  5. #170
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    Teen Vogue



    What Is Orientalism A Stereotyped Colonialist Vision of Asian Cultures
    (De)colonized is a series on the harms of colonialism and the fierce resistance against it.
    BY NAMRATA VERGHESE

    ILLUSTRATION BY ALY MCKNIGHT

    OCTOBER 13, 2021
    “Namaste,” a white woman in Lululemon leggings once said to my crowded yoga class, folding her hands as if in prayer. “That’s Sanskrit. It means I honor the way your body moves. Isn’t that beautiful?”

    Oof. No. Red flag. Although namaste once translated to I bow to you in Sanskrit, it now connotes something closer to a simple hello. The instructor’s dubious translation not only spreads misinformation but exoticizes a common greeting — presumably to titillate the (mostly white) yoga students and exaggerate the foreign “mystique” of the yoga experience.

    Her class is the rule, not the exception. Many yoga classes in the U.S. are colonial spaces. A typical session might involve the routine butchering of Sanskrit phrases and the fetishization of traditional practices and movements, while vaguely “exotic” strings-based instrumental music plays in the background. This curated environment tends to collapse the differences between far-flung traditions; the same studio may include a pastiche of Buddhist statues, Hindu symbols, and Sanskrit chants, flattening the diverse practice into a monolith for white consumption. Most yoga instructors are white women. Tank tops emblazoned with “om” and “namast’ay in bed” abound. The commodification of yoga facilitates exploitation, encouraging studios to reap profits from the appropriation of traditional spiritual practices, without paying or crediting the people who created them. Fundamentally, then, these yoga classes represent colonial, capitalist undertakings that advance at the expense of the very bodies they are built upon.

    In other words, your everyday yoga class is actually a textbook case study in Orientalism. In his pioneering 1978 book Orientalism, postcolonial studies scholar Edward Said defined Orientalism as “a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and … ‘the Occident.’” Put simply, the “Orient” is a colonial invention. Orientalism is a collection of binaries — between “East” and “West,” foreign and familiar, civilized and uncivilized, primitive and progressive, colonizer and colonized, self and Other. It is a system of representation through which the West produced the East as its opposite, its “surrogate and underground self” — a strange, backward, barbaric land, steeped in mysticism and danger.

    Tellingly, Orientalism opens with this Karl Marx quote: “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented.” As Thomas Babington Macaulay, the British politician who imposed English colonial education on India, once infamously stated, it could not be denied that “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” Given the assumed superiority of Western culture and literature, it fell to the West to represent the East. Western colonial powers assumed this paternalistic obligation by manufacturing the body of theory and practice that became the “Orient.” This representation permeates our culture; you’ve almost certainly come across classic Orientalist products before. To this day, they form some of our most enduring images of the alien “East.” Remember the feral child Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, or the meek Indian servants in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden? These representations illuminate how insidiously Orientalism functions — by exaggerating, essentializing, and exploiting the supposed difference between the East and the West, Orientalism legitimized Western white supremacy.

    Through the colonial project of Orientalism, the “Occident” produced the “Orient.” However, and perhaps more importantly, the “Orient” also produced the “Occident.” Without the East, there is no West. The Orient “helped define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience.” European culture came into being “by setting itself off against the Orient” — by defining the “self” as what it is not. Think of the Tethered in Jordan Peele’s Us: a shadow class of people who provide requisite contrast to the protagonists, whose exploitation the protagonists’ lives hinge upon, and through whom the protagonists’ humanity is defined.

    Edward Said stressed that the Orient “was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action.” In essence, to be “Oriental” is to be “Orientalized” — to inhabit whatever vessel deemed appropriate for you at any given time, whether that be a bloodthirsty terrorist or hypersexualized yogic fantasy. Fatimah Asghar aptly captures this slippery, shifting state of personhood in a poem: “you’re kashmiri until they burn your home … you’re muslim until you’re not a virgin. you’re pakistani until they start throwing acid. you’re muslim until it’s too dangerous ... you’re american until the towers fall. until there’s a border on your back.”
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    Continued from previous post

    In the decades since Said published his seminal text, the term Orientalism has trickled into the mainstream. However, in the process, the concept has been diluted — severed from its radical roots. These days, the word Orientalism conjures up images of glittering saris, Chinese dragons, and cramped, dusty cities. Maybe a snake charmer or two, for good measure. While these tropes are, of course, part and parcel of Orientalism, the heart of Said’s theory is that Orientalism is not an abstract concept — not just an “airy European fantasy” — but instead “a relationship of power, of domination.” The West’s “material investment” in creating and maintaining the structure of Orientalism sanctioned the violence of European imperialism. As Said puts it in another work, Culture and Imperialism: “‘They’ were not like ‘us,’ and for that reason deserved to be ruled.” Orientalism underpins the systems that allowed Europe to “manage — and even produce — the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively.” At its core, then, Orientalism is a symbolic and literal battleground, littered with t***** questions around power, profit, and personhood. Who wields power? To what end? Who tells what story? Who profits? And at whose expense?

    Said’s theory is just as urgent today as it was at the time of its publication. Like virtually every colonial hangover — from Western capitalism to the gender binary — Orientalism didn’t end, it just shape-shifted. It takes on a variety of guises, from well-intentioned but hamfisted “celebrations” of foreign cultures to outright racial terror. Orientalism is yoga studios and bindis at Coachella. It’s Starbucks profiting off a popular South Asian drink by rebranding it a "golden turmeric latte.” It’s Bridgerton romanticizing the aesthetics of British aristocracy while glossing over where (and who) the heroes’ riches came from. It’s a white woman falling “in love” with chai after visiting India and then proceeding to make millions selling the drink. It’s calling COVID-19 “kung flu.” It’s my former history teacher asking her students to debate the “pros and cons” of colonialism, while consistently mixing up the only two South Asian girls in her class. It’s every “empowering” Netflix show that depicts a Muslim woman taking off her hijab for a mediocre white man. It’s the fact that, as of 2017, the majority of The New York Times’s Chinese and Indian recipes were written by white people. It’s Trump saying, “I love Hindu,” and then striving to impose a Muslim ban. It’s the British Museum hoarding looted Indian artwork in glass display cases. It’s Steve McCurry achieving global fame after National Geographic published his photograph, “Afghan Girl,” while the portrait’s subject, Sharbat Gula, not only never received a penny for the photo but was allegedly imprisoned because of its impact. It’s the pervasive rhetoric painting U.S. military imperialism as “a fight for the rights of women” who are in desperate need of saving from their barbaric homelands by white Christian Westerners.

    The key takeaway here is that Orientalism is not just a trendy buzzword, but a fraught framework that grows out of bloody histories of colonialism, capitalism, and domination. It’s simultaneously timely and timeless. Orientalism names a power struggle that stretches back centuries and continues to structure our lives. Its ubiquity has dire consequences: Orientalism is a site of violence. In March 2021, the white man who killed eight people — including six East and Southeast Asian women who were working in Atlanta massage parlors — told the police he carried out this massacre because he had a “sexual addiction” and wanted to eliminate a “temptation.” As scholar Rumya Putcha points out, massage parlors like the ones the shooter targeted, or yoga studios like the one I mentioned at the start of this essay, are “part of a broader industrial complex that capitalizes on the racist belief that Asian people and Asian women, in particular, possess magical, spiritual, and sexual healing abilities. These attitudes belong to an entrenched Orientalist infrastructure in the United States that connects yoga, meditation, and massage to tourism, pleasure, and escape.” The long history of fetishizing and sexualizing Asian women animates Orientalist fantasies. While my yoga instructor’s mistranslation of namaste as I honor the way your body moves may seem innocuous, this kind of mundane Orientalism injects a simple greeting with sexual innuendo and a foreign, mystical charge. As we saw in Atlanta, that process of Orientalizing can yield material violence against “Orientals.”

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to quit your yoga class. After all, Orientalism doesn’t end when you roll up your yoga mat and head out for a smoothie. It follows you through the door. It saturates our world. Because Orientalism is a product of empire, resisting Orientalism goes hand in hand with the concrete, political work of decolonization. Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization looks like the end of settler colonialism, the repatriation of Indigenous lands, the erasure of borders, mutual aid networks, prison abolition, and disability justice. It looks like liberation for queer and trans people, Black people, Indigenous people, fat people, and Dalit people. It looks like wrenching the pen back from colonizers who have “represented” us for so long and, instead, writing our own stories. In Said’s words: “Stories are at the heart of what explorers and novelists say about strange regions of the world; they also become the method colonized people use to assert their own identity and the existence of their own history.”
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  7. #172
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    Divisive yoga

    Chakras, crystals and conspiracy theories: how the wellness industry turned its back on Covid science

    Illustration: Posed by model; Guardian Design; We Are; Nora Carol Photography; David Arky/Tetra Images; Rosemary Calvert; Somnuk Krobkum/Getty Images; Emmanuel Lattes/Alamy
    Its gurus increasingly promote vaccine scepticism, conspiracy theories and the myth that ill people have themselves to blame. How did self-care turn so nasty?

    Sirin Kale
    Thu 11 Nov 2021 01.00 EST
    Ozlem Demirboga Carr is not really into all that woo‑woo stuff. “I’m definitely a full-science kind of person,” says the 41-year-old telecoms worker from Reading. She doesn’t believe in crystals, affirmations or salt lamps. But she did find herself unusually anxious during the UK’s Covid lockdown in March 2020 and, like many people, decided to practise yoga as a way to de-stress.

    “I tried to be open-minded and I was open to advice on trying to improve my wellbeing and mental health,” she says. So she followed a range of social media accounts, including the “somatic therapist and biz coach” Phoebe Greenacre, known for her yoga videos, and the “women’s empowerment and spiritual mentor” Kelly Vittengl. The Instagram algorithm did its work. “I suddenly found myself following so many wellness accounts,” she says.

    When the deployment of the Covid vaccine got under way, Carr began to see posts that troubled her, ranging from polite concern about the social consequences of mass vaccination, or the politics underpinning it, to full-blown rejection of the science. “The conversation and tone of their posts shifted,” she says. “At first it was all about self-care and being part of a community that is caring for each other. But then they started to speak more about how there should be a choice when it came to vaccines. They were saying things like: ‘My body, my choice.’”

    Carr watched as Greenacre posted an Instagram story describing vaccine passports as “medical apartheid”. Vittengl went further. In a post in July, Vittengl, who is unvaccinated, compared vaccine passports to the social polarisation witnessed during the Holocaust and spoke about the “mess” caused by the “ideology of the western medical system”. “We aren’t being shown the full picture,” Vittengl concluded, in a post that was liked by Greenacre. Greenacre subsequently invited Vittengl on to her podcast, where Vittengl discussed the pernicious influence of “big pharma” and celebrated the work of the controversial doctor Zach Bush, who has been called a “Covid denialist” by researchers at McGill University in Montreal.

    Such views are anything but exceptional in the wellness community. If anything, they are on the milder end of the spectrum. Anti-vaccine or vaccine-hesitant attitudes are as abundant in online wellness circles as pastel-coloured Instagram infographics and asana poses on the beach at sunset. “People are really confused by what is happening,” says Derek Beres, the co-host of Conspirituality, a podcast about the convergence of conspiracy theories and wellness. “Why is their yoga instructor sharing QAnon hashtags?”

    In May, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that just 12 influencers were responsible for nearly 65% of anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter. “Many of these leading anti-vaxxers are alternative health entrepreneurs … They’re reaching millions of users every day,” says Callum Hood of the CCDH. “This is a serious problem. Vaccine hesitancy has become a difficult and entrenched obstacle to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.”


    For every saintly Yoga With Adrienne there are thousands of grifters pushing untested therapies on impressionable people. Photograph: rbkomar/Getty Images
    Included within the CCDH’s “disinformation dozen” are Joseph Mercola, a US wellness entrepreneur called the “most influential spreader of Covid-19 misinformation online” by the New York Times; Dr Christiane Northrup, a wellness expert who helped popularise the notorious Covid pseudo-documentary Plandemic by sharing it with her 560,000 Facebook followers; and Kelly Brogan, a contributor to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop wellness platform. Mikki Willis, the director of Plandemic, is well known in the California yoga scene, while David “Avocado” Wolfe, a conspiracy theorist and raw food advocate, is a regular figure at anti-vaccination protests across the US.

    Away from the CCDH’s list, other prominent figures include the yoga instructor Stephanie Birch, who has posted QAnon hashtags on her now-deleted Instagram account, and Krystal Tini, a wellness influencer with 169,000 Instagram followers, who has consistently posted anti-vaccine content, including one post that compared lockdowns to the horrors inflicted on Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. Comparing vaccine deployment to historic atrocities such as slavery and the Holocaust is a routine trope in anti-vaccine wellness circles; the Los Angeles wellness and beauty guru Shiva Rose recently compared vaccines to McCarthyism, slavery, the Cultural Revolution, the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust, all in one post.

    Beres says many of these wellness influencers are “using cult leader techniques in digital spaces”, sowing fear and hesitancy about the Covid vaccine among their followers, one Instagram post at a time.

    They maintain, however, that they are misunderstood or misrepresented. When contacted by the Guardian, Greenacre distanced herself from Vittengl’s comments on her podcast. “It would be incorrect and misleading to your readers to suggest comments from a third party reflect my own,” she said. She also said that she used the term “medical apartheid” to refer to “the use of discrimination and segregation based on medical status, for example treating people negatively based on their medical status by use of Covid vaccine passports”, rather than anything relating to historical discrimination based on race.

    Vittengl, meanwhile, stated that she is “not against the western medical system … However, I do feel that the industry has been heavily taken over by big pharmaceutical companies who are primarily concerned with finances over health.” She defended the work of Bush. “He is compassionately trying to help find more answers,” she said.

    Carr, however, decided to unfollow both women. Now, when she wants to practise yoga, she watches the Sweaty Betty YouTube channel.
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    continued from previous post

    We have had more than a decade of the modern iteration of wellness. A decade of vagina candles, chia bowls, coffee enemas and spirulina shots. A decade of burnt-out, anxious, unhappy women seeking to detoxify their bodies, rebalance their chakras and recentre their divine femininity, ideally while losing weight. The global wellness industry is worth about $1.5tn (£1.1tn) – and for every saintly Yoga With Adriene there are thousands of grifters pushing untested therapies on impressionable people.

    Although the modern iteration of wellness rose out of the primordial goop of the late 00s (Paltrow, the high priest of wellness, founded her lifestyle brand in 2008, originally as a newsletter), the origins of the movement go back to the hippy counterculture of the 70s. Then, as now, wellness presented itself as a remedy to the travails of modern life. It was structured around three tenets: robust individualism, distrust of western medicine and a commitment to self-optimisation, usually through restrictive diets and vigorous exercise regimens, designed to stave off disease and death for as long as possible. In her 2018 book Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote: “Wellness is the means to remake oneself into an ever-more perfect self-correcting machine, capable of setting goals and moving toward them with smooth determination.”


    ‘You think: I drink smoothies and go to yoga and work out seven days a week. Why can’t everyone else do it?’ Photograph: Piotr Marcinski/Getty Images/EyeEm
    In the 70s and 80s, Ann Wigmore proselytised the ability of a raw-food diet to cure cancer, diabetes and Aids. “There is this belief that if you stay true to a certain lifestyle and only ingest a particular kind of food and drink, that guards you against disease,” says Carl Cederström, the co-author of Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement: A Year Inside the Optimization Movement. “You create a strong armour around yourself by living healthily.”

    By contrast, western medicine – in particular the pernicious influence of big pharma – conspires to keep the masses sick. “There’s this suspicion about science,” Cederström says. “You often hear the rhetoric that modern civilisation is poisoning our lives, poisoning our food, and we need to find ways of living clean again, by cutting ourselves loose from a society that is constraining us and forcing us to live an inauthentic, unnatural lifestyle.”

    The polluting tributary in wellness’s fresh, clear stream has always been its unwavering insistence that health is a choice rather than something genetically predetermined or socially ordained. Few wellness practitioners say outright that people who are morbidly obese, have type 2 diabetes or have a mental illness suffer by their own hand: they instead couch their judgment in euphemisms and misdirection.

    “Wellness has very strong ties to the self-help movement,” says Cederström. “And what you find at the core of these movements is the idea that you should be able to help yourself.” Rhonda Byrne, the author of the bestselling self-help book The Secret – which portrayed the power of positive thinking as a curative to all of life’s ills – once claimed that the victims of 9/11 were in the wrong place at the wrong time due to their own negative thoughts and outlook on the world.

    “A more general theory as to why people would happily tune into the ideology of wellness, and in particular this individualistic attitude, is that it is in some ways self-flattering,” says Cederström. “We live in a culture that connects morality to health. If you have a good, middle-class life, you’re encouraged to believe that you deserve it. If you’re poor and unhealthy – well, you didn’t work hard enough.”

    For nearly 50 years, the world of wellness has viewed health as something that can be shrugged on or off at will, like a cashmere sweater. Doctors are to be distrusted and individuals should take responsibility for their own “wellness journey”. Then the Covid vaccine programme began – and this anti‑scientific attitude metastasised into something far more harmful. “This is a very long-running thing,” says Hood. “We’re seeing that erosion of trust in mainstream medicine flowering now. And it’s very dangerous.”

    Before Catherine Gabitan, who is 31 and lives in northern California, became an “overcoming self-sabotage” coach, she worked in the service industry. Gabitan usually rose to manager roles easily, but despite the promotions she never felt that she was fulfilling her true potential, as an A-grade student with a college degree.

    She smoked cigarettes, drank coffee and alcohol and ate processed foods. Despite her best efforts, she could never kick these habits. “One of my initial inspirations for becoming really healthy was to make sure I had a really clean body, so that I could be the healthiest vessel I could be in order to have the healthiest baby,” Gabitan says.

    In early 2020, Gabitan bought a $199 lecture series from the self‑sabotage coach Jason Christoff. Christoff, who also styles himself as a nutrition and exercise expert, shares misinformation about the Covid vaccine on his public Facebook page and his Telegram channel.

    When contacted by the Guardian for comment, Christoff responded: “Maybe you should look into who sponsors your own newspaper, but that would get you sacked.” He subsequently wrote a blog linking the Guardian to a plot by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the global population by 10-15%. “Is the Guardian and their sponsors watching out for public health or are they colluding to decrease population and public health, in order to place the remaining population under firm tyrannical control?” Christoff wrote.

    Christoff helped Gabitan to realise that, for years, she had not believed herself to be worthy of “a higher level of health”. She explains: “My subconscious beliefs regarding why I didn’t feel worthy of having a business or learning to invest, or why I drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes – all these things were related to what I felt worthy of achieving.”

    Christoff’s lecture series had the invigorating quality of an ice bath after a sauna. Almost immediately, Gabitan embarked upon what she calls her “health journey”. She quit coffee, smoking, alcohol and gluten. She began exercising three times a week and eating only organic, locally produced food. She also quit the service industry, rebranding as a self-sabotage coach.

    Social media is the wild west when it comes to health claims. You can say whatever you want
    When the Covid vaccine programme began, Gabitan, who is unvaccinated, began sharing anti-vaccine content on her Instagram page. “Injecting poison will never make you healthy,” she posted on 8 July. “We’re taught that ‘germs’ and genetics make us sick so we don’t have to take responsibility for our toxic lifestyles,” she wrote on 23 July. “Could other people’s need to micromanage what we put on or in our bodies be a projection of their poor health history and inability to take responsibility for their own health?” she asked on 16 August.

    Gabitan sees health through a hyperindividualistic moral frame. She takes control of her own health; if other people won’t help themselves, why should she? “I don’t smoke and I don’t drink,” she says. “I spend a lot of money investing in the highest-quality foods available to me. I believe in natural immunity and supporting my immune system. I’ve taken radical responsibility for that, especially over Covid. And there are other people out there who are still drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes who want me to protect their health, but they won’t even protect their own health.”

    In this, Gabitan exhibits the logical fallacy of wellness: the idea that the human mind is a drill sergeant and the organs of our body obediently fall in line. “You may exercise diligently, eat a medically fashionable diet, and still die of a sting from an irritated bee,” Ehrenreich said in Natural Causes. “You may be a slim, toned paragon of wellness, and still a macrophage within your body may decide to throw in its lot with an incipient tumour.”

    Gabitan does not need the vaccine, because she is a shining paragon of health. The people dying from Covid are people with disabilities, or those who are already sick, obese or old. What happens to them is nothing for Gabitan to trouble herself about unduly, as an able-bodied member of the wellness community.

    “A lot of the people that are experiencing hospitalisations from Covid had a lot of other co-morbidities, right?” Gabitan says. “Or they are overweight. If our government had promoted a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, from the beginning … that would have done a lot more to prevent some of these hospitalisations by actually encouraging people to become the healthiest versions of themselves. Right. So, for me, one premise is people taking responsibility for their own health.”
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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    Continued from previous post


    Some of the people pushing anti-vaccine content ‘believe themselves to be martyrs’, says Derek Beres. Photograph: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images
    It sounds, I respond, as if you are saying that, when people get sick, it is their fault; not bad luck, because anyone can get sick at any time. “See, I don’t think it’s just bad luck,” she says. “I think part of it is people taking responsibility for their own health, to make sure they’re not putting toxins in their body – and the other part of it is not being exposed to pollution.” Nobody close to her has died from Covid.

    Gabitan also believes the vaccine to be dangerous and ineffective. “The vaccine doesn’t stop transmission,” she says. (The vaccine is thought to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to other people, although this protection wanes with time.) She is concerned about the impact of the vaccine on her fertility – this is a common fear among the vaccine-hesitant and is particularly prevalent in wellness circles, which are mostly female – and doesn’t trust data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US health agency. She prefers to get information about the vaccine from Telegram, the Children’s Health Defense (a group founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr that is a major source of vaccine disinformation) and Project Veritas, a far-right conspiracy theory site.

    As a result of the research she has conducted over the last year, Gabitan’s distrust of medical science now extends beyond the Covid vaccine. If she had children, she would not vaccinate them against any disease. She would reject modern medicine in virtually all cases, excepting broken bones. Modern medicine is “designed to deal with symptoms, not the reason the symptoms showed up in the first place”, she says.

    I ask Gabitan, who is affable and willing to answer all my questions, why she agreed to speak with me, given our dramatically different perspectives on the vaccine. “To have open dialogue, even with people with different opinions, is the only way that we can heal what’s going on in the world,” she says. I tell her that many people would find her attitude selfish and disturbing. “I don’t want to be callous,” Gabitan says. “Because my goal is to help other people live the healthiest life that they can. That’s my passion in the world.”

    I am certain that she believes it.

    Gabitan’s views are by no means a reflection of all wellness practitioners. Deepak Chopra, the famed yoga and meditation expert, has urged people to get vaccinated. “It’s mistaken and unfair to use a fringe group as the tar that stains everyone else,” Chopra wrote in a blog in June. But Gabitan’s attitude is an example, however extreme, of how the ideological structures of wellness may support anti-vaccine attitudes.

    Before Conspirituality’s Beres worked in technology, he was a yoga instructor. “Even though I’ve been involved in the yoga and wellness world since the 90s, I’ve always been sceptical of a lot of the claims,” he says. “When you get into yoga, there are a lot of health claims that sound OK if you’re at a nice yoga studio in a major city, but don’t reflect reality.”

    He sees people like Gabitan as the logical end point of 50 years of telling people that virtue is to be signalled with striated abs and a rippling musculature. “When you live in a country where even a relatively modest middle-class lifestyle is way above what the rest of the world can sustain, it’s very easy to get locked into anecdote and your circle of friends,” Beres says. “You think: I drink smoothies and go to yoga and work out seven days a week and eat organic food. Why can’t everyone else do it?”

    The US – the avocado stone of the global wellness community – is, and always has been, extremely individualistic. “Everything is about personal freedom and personal knowledge. What we see here is late-stage capitalism merging with hyperindividualism,” Beres says.

    The US is also a country without universal healthcare. “If you don’t have insurance, it’s incredibly expensive to get treated,” says Hood of the CCDH. “People develop an interest in looking into alternatives and that’s where wellness influencers step in. You don’t have to spend thousands on doctors. You can just take this supplement or follow this regimen and you will be fine.”

    Finally, it is a country where pharmaceutical companies have long behaved contemptibly. Last month, Purdue Pharma paid $4.5bn to settle its role in the opioid crisis, after overwhelming evidence emerged that the pharmaceutical company played down the addictive qualities of OxyContin for many years. Claims about the pernicious influence of big pharma are de rigueur in anti-vaccine circles; Plandemic’s central thesis is that big pharma is suppressing affordable cures for Covid to make money from patented medicines.
    continued next post
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    continued from previous post

    There is this belief that if you stay true to a certain lifestyle, that guards you against disease
    “One thing alternate health entrepreneurs have in common with anti-vaxxers is that they talk about big pharma a lot,” says Hood. “It’s no coincidence that the organised anti-vaxx movement has its home in the US. Because there’s a greater profit motive in US healthcare, there’s a level of suspicion.” The irony, of course, is that many wellness practitioners are also motivated by profit. “It’s a business for them, but they’re not open about it,” says Beres.

    But to understand why some people may be driven to anti-vaccine attitudes is not to excuse their wider impact on community health, or the distressing implication that they regard the lives of those less fortunate than themselves as having scant value. “Some of the most strikingly nasty stuff I’ve seen with Covid misinformation has come from wellness influencers,” Hood says.

    On the subject of nastiness, he refers to a widely circulated meme (shared this year by the TV presenter Anthea Turner, to outrage) featuring a fat person on a mobility scooter asking a slim person to wear a mask. “The implication is that the person in the mobility scooter is somehow morally deficient and doesn’t have the authority to ask someone to wear a mask,” says Hood. There are similar attitudes where vaccines are concerned. “There is this nasty sense from some anti-vaxxer people that the people who have fallen ill with Covid are somehow deserving of it.”

    Social media companies, for their part, are reluctant to take down disinformation. “Social media is the wild west when it comes to health claims,” says Hood. “You can say whatever you want.” Research in 2020 by the CCDH found that platforms failed to act on 95% of Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them.

    Wellness influencers – including members of the CCDH’s “disinformation dozen” – remain on social media platforms with a nudge and a wink. Often, they refer users to their Telegram channels, where they really let rip. (Telegram is unmoderated.) While Northrup has had her Instagram account disabled, her Facebook page links to her Telegram channel, in which she deluges 58,000 people with a flow of anti-vaccine disinformation. Likewise, Wolfe exhorts his Facebook fans to follow him on Telegram, where he unleashes.

    Technology companies are slow to take down anti-vaccine content, because it is lucrative. Mercola has 1.7m engaged followers on Facebook; Wolfe an astonishing 11.9m. Outrage fuels engagement, which drives revenue, for the influencer and the social media platform. In March, Mercola joined the newsletter platform Substack – his paid-for subscription costs $5 a month, of which Substack takes 10% as commission. It is already the 11th-most-read paid health newsletter on the platform. (While Substack’s terms of use ban plagiarism, pornography and intellectual property theft, there is no prohibition on disinformation.)

    Some of the people pushing anti-vaccine content do so in the sincere belief they are working for the public good. “They believe themselves to be martyrs,” Beres says. “They’re fully bought in. They think this is an apocalyptic-level battle they were made for, to be the champions.” But Beres believes others “are like: ‘Wow. I can make a bunch of money here.’”

    When wellness influencers start to post anti-vaccine content online, a calcifying effect takes place. Pro-vaccine people unfollow; a few push back in the comments, but ultimately also unfollow, whereas followers who were hesitant about vaccines waver towards anti-vaccine attitudes and committed anti-vaxxers congregate, with applause. Before Gabitan began posting anti-vaccine content on her Instagram account, an average post would get 20-30 likes; now, she can easily get more than 150 likes on a post about big pharma. “The more people get this social reinforcement, the more anti-vaxx they become,” says Hood.

    As a result, anti-vaccine wellness influencers get an influx of followers, many of them new to the community. “What happened after Plandemic is that QAnon infiltrated wellness circles,” says Beres. “Yoga instructors started using QAnon hashtags and watched their following grow by hundreds of thousands.” Online wellness is so closely affiliated with QAnon that the phenomenon has been called “pastel QAnon” by Marc-André Argentino, a researcher at Concordia University in Montreal. Carr is baffled by how QAnon, a rightwing movement, has infiltrated what was historically a hippy, countercultural space. “The similarities between rightwing groups and the wellness community scares me,” she says.

    This dopamine pull of likes and engagement encourages influencers to skew extreme, all the while positioning themselves as victims of so-called cancel culture or online hate mobs. In an Instagram story posted after Vittengl stated her views on vaccination, she portrayed herself as a victim. “The backlash is unbelievable,” she wrote. “As an energetically sensitive person [someone who feels emotions in a heightened way] it can sometimes be too much. But … not speaking up no longer feels like a choice.” She later tells me: “I understand how this may come off as ‘victim mentality’, but it is a very real and very intense phenomenon.”

    Carr finds this narrative maddening. “This community feels like they are being victimised, but they are not victims. They are privileged, well-off people with choices.” Carr is British-Turkish and takes umbrage with how the community co-opts the language of human rights to advocate against vaccines. “That makes me crazy,” says Carr. “To portray vaccines as against human rights ... I come from a country where human rights are constantly being diminished.”

    In the absence of action from the social media giants, all users like Carr can do is unfollow their former gurus. “In a passive way, that’s my solution,” she says. Many more users will no doubt replace them. “If you’re an ordinary person who’s having doubts about the vaccine and you start looking for answers, you’re far more likely to come across an anti-vaxx source than you are an authoritative source like the NHS or CDC,” says Hood. “These are effective and very intentional ways of radicalising people.”

    He hopes that this alignment of the wellness community with anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists will prompt a wider reappraisal of an industry that, for many years, has been replete with charlatans and quacks, profiting from that most fundamental of human desires – a desire for health. “I’m not saying the whole thing is rotten,” Hood says. “But there are broader questions to be asked about wellness and the alternative health industry. This is the end product of telling people they can control their health through willpower and diet. Most of the time, as a society, we don’t think that’s so harmful. But when it comes to the pandemic, it’s quite obvious that it is harmful. Probably the harms were there all the time. But the pandemic has exposed them.”

    This article was amended on 11 November 2021. A previous version said CCDH research found that 95% of social media platforms failed to act on Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them. In fact, the figure of 95% referred to the percentage of reported misinformation that was not removed by social media companies.
    I'm not seeing such divisions in Tai Chi yet. Are you?

    threads
    Yoga
    covid
    Gene Ching
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  11. #176
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    Cris Galêra & naked yoga

    Playboy model strips off for naked yoga and shares benefits of racy workout
    Brazilian Playboy model Cris Galêra has revealed one of her secrets to staying in such great shape - naked yoga. She shared the benefits of the racy exercise as she stripped off for a workout

    BySamantha Bartlett Senior Lifestyle & Travel Reporter
    09:36, 23 JUN 2022UPDATED14:05, 23 JUN 2022
    DIET & FITNESS

    Model Cris Galêra has revealed one of her secrets to staying in such great shape - naked yoga.

    The Brazilian bombshell, who has posed for Playboy, revealed the benefits of the racy exercise while stripping off to demonstrate the workout.

    Cris, who also makes money selling sexy snaps and videos on OnlyFans, claims naked yoga helps you keep your connection with your body.

    She told CO Press: "The exercise is great as it helps you maintain connection with your body and still has all the benefits of a normal yoga practice. It just has advantages.


    The model says it helps her stay in shape (Image: CO Press Office)

    The model also said that the practice helps you to get to know your body.

    "In most yoga positions, the absence of clothes can help the practitioner to know the fittings of their own body, it is a practice that should be seen more naturally," she added.

    Cris says she wants to pass on the technique among her followers and fans.

    “I discovered naked yoga in Europe and was fascinated," she confessed.


    She also says it 'helps you maintain connection with your body' (Image: CO Press Office)

    Cris says she wants to pass on the technique among her followers and fans (Image: CO Press Office)
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    "I see more than a sexual exercise, but I want to show the benefits far beyond that, so that people can understand that exercise is a way of taking care of their own body."

    Her comment came as International Yoga Day was celebrated this week (June 21).

    Yoga is well recommended by professionals to provide mental health, posture and even weight loss benefits.
    Yeah, well, when I lived in India, I saw some naked saddhus.

    And they didn't look at all like that.
    Gene Ching
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  12. #177
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    Yoga to the People

    ‘Indentured Servitude’ and Bags of Cash: Yoga Teachers Say Red Flags Came Before Federal Tax Evasion Charges
    The founder of the popular New York City yoga chain Yoga to the People is accused of raking in money, while keeping employees — and the IRS — in the dark

    BY ANDREA MARKS
    SEPTEMBER 16, 2022


    Instructor and co-owner Greg Gumucio leading a class in 2010. CASEY KELBAUGH/REDUX
    YOGA TEACHER FRANCESCA Caviglia knew something was off about the studio where she worked when she got scolded for touching the money too much. At the donation-based Yoga to the People on St. Marks Place in New York City, which operated from 2006 to 2020, cash was collected in an empty tissue box at the end of class. After the final corpse pose, the teacher would stand at the back of the studio holding the oddly specific receptacle. As dozens of sweaty students filed out, they could drop in a few crumpled bills, or nothing at all. Whatever you could give that day was what the class cost.

    After students left, Caviglia tells Rolling Stone, the teacher was supposed to dig the cash out of the box, put it into an envelope and label it with the class’ day and time to be stored in a locked area. That’s where Caviglia ran afoul of the rules, which surprised her. “My instinct was to take these wadded up bills, unfold them and make a stack of them, because this is cash that someone’s dealing with eventually,” she recalls. “I remember being reprimanded once for doing that. What they wanted was for you to just transfer the cash that had been crumpled from people’s sweaty hands into this manila envelope, and there was something shady if I, like, handled it too much. It gave me the impression that it was because it looked like I might have counted it, and that was a problem.” A recent criminal complaint alleges that under Gumucio’s leadership, Yoga to the People teachers were generally “forbidden” from counting the incoming cash.

    Only recently has the public begun to get an idea of where those “donations” were really headed. During the pandemic lockdown, the company shuttered permanently amid allegations that surfaced, initially on social media, of abuse, sexual misconduct and worker exploitation against Yoga to the People founder Greg Gumucio. Then, in August 2022, Gumucio and two other company leaders — Haven Soliman and Michael Anderson — were charged with tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the IRS, accused of never filing taxes on more than $20 million in income between 2010 and 2020. (Gumucio has not faced any criminal charges for the alleged abuse or sexual misconduct.) The charges have been met with relief and, in some cases, surprise on the part of those who worked under Gumucio. The teachers who spoke with Rolling Stone saw Gumucio as the head and had not interacted closely, if at all, with his co-defendants. Some of his former staffers have been reexamining the financial practices they witnessed and participated in for the first time.

    For more than a decade, Yoga to the People was a mainstay of affordable movement classes in New York and beyond. Gumucio opened the flagship St. Marks location in 2006, the same year he moved from Portland, Oregon. By that time, Vice first reported in 2020, he had already been convicted of felony forgery and motor vehicle theft and had been accused of rape, although that case was closed after the alleged victim failed to respond to police inquiries regarding the investigation. Over the next decade or so, he opened what authorities estimate to be around 20 affiliated entities, including a total of six New York studios and locations in Arizona, Florida, and the San Francisco Bay Area. All but a few studios that offered hot yoga in New York were donation-based, and they did a brisk business. “Cash only please,” their web pages said.

    Gumucio once estimated that 1,000 people came to Yoga to the People daily, but that seems like an under-count. The St. Marks location alone had four studios inside it, each of which could hold as many as 60 students during eight daily classes on weekdays. Starting in 2009, when I was freshly out of college and new to New York, I attended 6 p.m. classes at St. Marks regularly, rushing over from my low-wage media job and sometimes paying only a handful of change I’d dredged guiltily from the bottom of my bag. I also attended high school with Caviglia, as well as Emily Schoen, another former teacher interviewed in this article. They and the other sources who spoke with Rolling Stone are just some of the people who were affected by the crimes alleged in the August 2022 complaint.

    In YTTP classes, teachers would often say you only needed the space of your mat to do yoga, and in those pre-Covid times, they meant it. As the rooms filled up, staff would ask you to move closer and closer to your neighbor until sometimes only an inch or two remained between mats. The hour-long vinyasa class was typically a standardized series of standing poses and lunges that put the quads to heavy use, followed by seated stretches. As Caviglia pointed out, the studio claimed to offer yoga for everyone, but the athletic series they taught was most accessible to young, able-bodied people, the likes of which flocked to St. Marks from nearby New York University in such numbers that sometimes a line formed down the block before class. “There wasn’t a lot of practical, useful, ‘here’s how to deal with different situations,’” she says of the teacher training course she took through the company. “It was like, everyone who’s gonna walk into the studio is going to be an early twenties, flexible, young, little person, and they’ll just do the thing; just tell them to do it.” Even so, the pay-what-you-can rate, compared to other yoga classes that could run $20 or more, allowed hundreds of people to take classes who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
    continued next post
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    Continued from previous post


    The Yoga to the People studio on St. Marks Place was known to get packed, like it did this Sunday evening in April 2010. Pictured at the center, in black, is Gumucio’s co-defendant Haven Soliman, who has identified herself in the past as a co-owner of YTTP. CASEY KELBAUGH/REDUX
    In 2020, it all fell apart. In early July, as Yoga to the People locations remained shuttered due to the pandemic, former employees began posting allegations of sexual misconduct, racial discrimination, a “cult”-like environment, manipulative management practices, and more. “I can’t even count the amount of times I had someone tell me not to eat, comment on my body, comment on my food choice as ‘not a yoga teacher’s,’ and even had a manager take food out of my hands before a hot class,” said one post from a former teacher, labeled with a “body shaming” trigger warning. In another, someone claiming to be a former manager said they’d been pressured by higher ups not to file their taxes because it would force YTTP to claim them as an employee. “I was bullied into doing something illegal by the company I worked for!” the post said. Days after the first posts appeared, Yoga to the People announced it would not reopen. Soon after, exposes from Vice News and The Cut further detailed Gumucio’s alleged behaviors, including claims he manipulated staffers into sexual relationships with him and demanded total obedience from his staff.

    Jill Bayne, who trained at and then worked as a manager for Yoga to the People in New York between 2009 and 2012, and who has been outspoken about Gumucio’s alleged wrongdoing, says Gumucio used to call her in the middle of the night, just to see if she’d pick up. “He wanted you to answer the phone every time he called.” she says. Three former staffers who spoke with Rolling Stone say they often didn’t learn their teaching schedule more than one day ahead of time. “Sometimes you found out the night before that you’re working a double the next day,” Schoen says. The news arrived via text message. “It felt very, like, ‘We own your calendar, don’t we?’” Caviglia says. “I started giving them less and less availability, because I was like, I can’t just hold all of these days.” She and Schoen each recall that if you couldn’t work a class you’d been last-minute scheduled for, you often wouldn’t be given another one for about two weeks — “punitively,” Schoen says.

    One of the more notorious accusations lobbed against Gumucio since 2020 — albeit absent from the criminal complaint — was that teacher trainees at his company had to participate in a practice called arm-raising, which participants felt was designed to break them down emotionally. Sources say arm-raising involved holding your arms above your head for an hour, an experience that became increasingly painful, while music Cavilgia described as off-brand Enya played. Bayne remembers Celine Dion on the playlist. At a point, participants say they became aware the exercise was supposed to end with them crying. “They were trying to make us associate the fatigue we were having with some sort of emotional breakthrough,” Caviglia says. “One of the semi-senior teachers was participating in this with us, and I think she was the ringleader to be like, ‘Here’s your example. She’ll just start breaking down in a few minutes and then you can all follow suit.’” Eventually, sources say, many people did break down and cry. Schoen says the person leading the session did nothing to help the trainees recover from such a vulnerable moment. “They left us just splattered on the floor with all those feelings,” she says. “There was no type of emotional cleanup.”

    On another occasion, Caviglia and Schoen separately recall being asked to sit in a circle with other trainees and share something traumatic from their past that they hadn’t told anyone else. “I remember being like, do I have to make up some trauma right now?” Caviglia says. “It felt like maybe this is an audition for who’s prepared to enter this game.” Bayne, who also participated in the same activity during her training, recalls the session leader going first. “She stood up and said, ‘I was raped,’ and then she kind of like, curled up into the fetal position on the floor, like, OK, she’s setting an example of what we’re supposed to do,” she says.

    Bayne believed Gumucio instituted practices of probing people’s pasts to vet them to work for him and, she believed, to “groom” them for sexual relationships with him. “He would pick people that had criminal backgrounds and beautiful women who had trauma,” she says. “He rarely would have, for lack of a better term, a fat person, and there were not very often people of color.” Teachers reportedly did engage in sexual relationships with Gumucio, although none who spoke about it with Rolling Stone. Bayne says when she asked her immediate supervisor about rumors that Gumucio slept with teachers, she got an angry call from Gumucio himself. “He is screaming at me, ‘Don’t you ever talk about me! Don’t you ever talk about me! How dare you?’ and just literally scared the ever living [out of me],” she says.

    Meanwhile, students kept coming by the hundreds, and someone had to handle all that cash filling the tissue boxes — where voluntary donations were supplemented by $2 extra if you rented a mat, and $1 for a bottle of water. At St. Marks, according to sources who spoke with Rolling Stone and the criminal complaint, after teachers put the money from their classes in envelopes, managers would transport it across the street to Gumucio’s apartment, a sprawling exposed-brick loft that didn’t look unlike the rooms in the nearby studio, except it was bigger, and had a disco ball suspended from the ceiling. Court documents described it as the company’s de facto headquarters. There, according to a former manager who asked to remain anonymous, they and their management colleagues — mainly women — would sort the cash so it could be counted in mandatory twice-weekly sessions known as “stacking,” a practice also alleged in court documents. “All those bills were separated, and then sat on so they would get warm,” the manager says. “So that our boss could run them through the cash counter.” Sources say they do not know exactly why the money had to be warmed by people’s behinds. “I didn’t know enough about tax fraud to think this [might be] illegal,” the manager says. “I thought it was just another example of Greg being a manipulative, power-hungry person to like, make us sit on this cash.” According to the criminal complaint, the money was then stored in Gumucio’s guitar case, which authorities allege at times contained between $20,000 and $30,000.

    Bayne recalls drinking wine at these stacking sessions, sorting but never counting the money, and being careful not to say anything that could be used against her. “We’d be sitting around, and all of us are scared of each other, because we don’t know who’s closest to Greg,” she says. “He kept us all so isolated, so we didn’t even know what to talk about. It was a very nervous, tense situation.”

    According to the anonymous former manager, who was trained as a teacher at YTTP and then taught there for multiple years in the mid 2010s, the way money was handled varied by location. At a different YTTP studio in the city, they were expected to store, sort, and count the cash themselves, and eventually deposit it in the bank. Some managers even had their own safes and cash counters, they say. Their direct supervisor at the studio location told them how to handle the money. “We always had to deposit below $10,000, and now I know that’s because that would be a red flag for the IRS,” they say, referring to a federal law that requires banks to report deposits of $10,000 or more in an effort to curb money laundering. “But I would be walking along a street in New York with a tote bag full of $9,000. That was anxiety-producing, for sure.”
    continued next post
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    continued from previous post


    Classes at the YTTP studio on St. Marks were pay-what-you-will, largely attracting people from nearby New York University. CASEY KELBAUGH/REDUX
    In 2020, former employees claimed YTTP exploited its workers with long hours and low pay. Many one-time students became potential staff through the teacher training courses, which Schoen and Caviglia attended together in 2013. According to the complaint, teacher training was a major source of revenue for the company, costing roughly $2,500 to $3,000, depending on how early you registered. It happened twice a year for regular vinyasa training and once a year for hot yoga. After graduating from the training program, some teachers were invited to lead classes at YTTP, but, according to sources and the criminal complaint, they didn’t necessarily get paid right away. Instead, during a period which Schoen and Caviglia describe as “indentured servitude,” they were asked to teach 25 classes for free and expected to volunteer their spare time to clean studios to prove their dedication to the company. Bayne says she got paid to teach right away, with no explanation. “I didn’t have to teach any classes for free,” she says. “I don’t know why he gave me special treatment. He started paying me right away.”

    Schoen, on the other hand, spent months working her way up to leading paid classes. She’d show up a half hour early, and stay at least half an hour late or longer, for the closing shift, cleaning mats, mopping up sweat, and restocking water. “It was a total drag, for absolutely no money,” she says. “At the time, though, I felt like, I’m getting scheduled for classes, I’m working towards something. Eventually, they’ll start paying me. But I remember once I hit that cap, the number of classes I was scheduled for during the week fell drastically.” Schoen says she went from teaching as often as six times a week for free to around one class per week. The pay was only $25-$35 per class. Soon after she completed teaching the unpaid classes, she left. In the criminal complaint, authorities allege Gumucio “maximized his unreported income by manipulating subordinates into providing free labor (e.g., teaching unpaid classes, stacking cash, cleaning yoga studios, depositing cash into bank accounts, etc.).”

    The former manager remembers regularly receiving their so-called starting salary of $3,000 a month in one lump sum of cash in a plastic bag from a liquor store. According to the criminal complaint, in 2013, one employee texted Gumucio asking, “So should all salaries be cash?” and he replied, in part, “yup.”

    The former manager estimates they worked 100 hours weekly, between administrative tasks, managing other teachers, handling money, helping run teacher trainings, and teaching a whopping 20 classes per week. They recall feeling “sleep-deprived, hungry, and broke” during their time there. None of the former staffers who spoke with Rolling Stone were ever given tax forms. According to the criminal complaint, teachers who requested tax forms were typically denied. “When such a request was made, YTTP leadership treated it as a big deal, and it resulted in contentious conversations,” the court document says.

    Despite prosecutors arguing Gumucio has mob ties and a fugitive mentor he has visited in Acapulco, he and his co-defendants are currently out on bond, on conditions including the surrender of their travel documents and that they do not communicate with any former employees of YTTP. A public defender for Gumucio and lawyers for his co-defendants did not respond to requests for comment. Authorities have asked people with information on the case or who believe they have been the victim of a crime related to YTTP to reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    Some people hope the tax evasion case will be just the beginning of accountability for Gumucio and his associates. To Bayne, the financial charges are just a starting point, a way to get at some of the wrongdoing she claims Gumucio put people through. “I want them to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” she says of the defendants. “I want all people to recognize and learn the signs of narcissistic and cult abuse.”

    Others are thinking of the yoga community, and hoping something else might fill the void left by YTTP. Could a different organization offer donation-based classes for everyone without – crucially – the hideous underbelly of alleged abusive behavior by yet another powerful man apparently abusing his status? “I wonder, does that model work if you’re not cheating it?” says Caviglia, who left the company after leading just a few unpaid classes and began teaching on a freelance basis. “Can you have something that is accessible at a similar level that has at least a passable part-time wage for the teachers and doesn’t have some elaborate under-the-table scheme going on? Maybe it can be done in a smaller regard. I would hope that model can work, that it’s not too good to be true.”
    Those students are way too close together.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #180
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    3K+ in Vietnam

    Over 3,000 seniors join largest Qi Gong, Yoga demonstration in Vietnam
    More than 3,000 senior Yogis gathered at a Qi Gong and Yoga mass demonstration on Le Loi Street in District 1, downtown Ho Chi Minh City, on October 2 morning.
    VNA Sunday, October 02, 2022 18:22


    A Qi Gong and Yoga mass demonstration for seniors takes place on Le Loi Street in District 1, downtown Ho Chi Minh City, on October 2 morning. (Photo: VNA)
    HCM City (VNA) – More than 3,000 senior Yogis gathered at a Qi Gong and Yoga mass demonstration on Le Loi Street in District 1, downtown Ho Chi Minh City, on October 2 morning.

    They are members of Qi Gong exercise clubs for seniors from across the southern city.

    The event was part of a series of events in response to this ongoing Action Month for the Elderly.

    Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association for the Elderly Huynh Thanh Lap said it aimed to encourage senior citizens to exercise and live a fruitful life.

    The event was recognised by the Vietnam Records Organisation (VietKings) as the largest Qi Gong and Yoga mass performance ever held in Vietnam on the occasion.
    Mass Qigong Demonstrations
    Yoga
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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