Tag Archives: consumer culture

Yogic Values, Diversity, and Inclusivity

LuluLogoDiversityI had the good fortune to score one of only a hundred seats for The Practice of Leadership, a panel discussion held at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York City this past weekend. The discussion grew out of Seane Corn’s decision to decline an invitation from Lululemon to participate in a leadership training program they were developing for the Yoga Journal Conferences. Ms. Corn explained the reason for her decision:

I told them that I couldn’t be a part of a training program they were hosting unless they themselves were willing to model true leadership, which includes ownership. Their lack of transparency and silence around the controversy in 2013 was irresponsible.”

The “controversy” was a perfect storm of long-standing questions regarding the compatibility of Lululemon’s philosophy and ethics with those of yoga combined with incendiary statements by Lululemon founder and majority shareholder Chip Wilson regarding, among other things, problems with Lululemon’s product line. It all resulted in a public relations disaster and an invitation from Alanna Kaivalya in a phenomenally viral Huffington Post article.

The Practice of Leadership panel discussion was described as follows:

“In this session, we will take on the delicate balance of spiritual values and corporate responsibility featuring community leaders, social change activists and Lululemon leadership. It will be an open and honest dialogue that gets at the heart of our practice, our role as conscious leaders and how to create community in conflict.”

Yogadork posted a nice summary of the proceedings and asked readers to stop and ponder a significant question: “Do you feel Lululemon (a corporation) should be held responsible for upholding yogic values, diversity and inclusivity?”

My answer is that Yogadork rolled two very different questions into one. A coherent response is not possible until the two questions are separated. Here’s why: Continue reading

Ten Years After

NYC-Ten-Years-After

Photos © James and Karla Murray

In a few weeks I’ll be visiting some of my old neighborhoods in New York City. It’s been a while since my last visit and I expect to feel discombobulated by its unfamiliarity. Like a time-displaced Captain America bounding into a future-ized Times Square, I’ll recognize all the old familiar places that this heart of mine embraces and reconcile myself to the fact that they look all wrong.

But it’s not just a case of sullen nostalgia because my old haunts don’t look they way they used to; it’s a case of disenchantment because now my old haunts look just like everyplace else. When I was born, no other city in America looked like New York City. Now, New York City looks a lot like everyplace else. People from Des Moines can have dinner in New York at the same restaurant they go to in… Des Moines! C’mon: really? You’re in the Big Apple and you want to eat at Applebee’s?

Every day everyplace looks a little more like everyplace else: the same corporate brands, the same architectural design, the same urban planning, the same kind of commoditized experience, sanitized and made safe for mass consumption. You used to be able to escape from the malaise of the suburbs by moving into The City. Now, the only real difference is that you won’t need a car (but you will need a trust fund). Continue reading

The Wind

I hope the storm that blew through our nation’s capital Friday night is a once in a lifetime experience. Watching from the rear window of our treetop level apartment, the woods behind our building undulated like a giant bed of sea anemone being whipped about by the roiling crosscurrents of an angry ocean. Thinking that the stiff wind would cool our stifling bedroom, I opened the window a crack and then took an anxious step back, feeling as if I’d just admitted a furious phantasm that was eager to smash anything it could reach. Continue reading

Questions and Answers

One of the studios where I teach recently forwarded a request from a local university student who wanted to hear what teachers had to say about yoga. I thought I would share my answers to her three specific questions with you:

1) Why do you practice yoga? Continue reading

Listen To The Wind Blow

“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”

Bhagavad-gita 2.23

This verse came to mind during the past week of back-to-back natural disasters assaulting the east coast of the United States. I have to admit that I was a little slow in getting my yoga mojo in gear during the earthquake: despite the violent trembling of my apartment and the accompanying sounds of shattering objects, I stood stupefied in complete denial of the self-evident truth before pulling it together as the tremors dissipated.

It’s easy to understand why the mental discombobulation inspired by an earthquake (in Washington DC?) would throw one for a loop. As Brooke Gladstone tells us in her book about the media, The Influencing Machine; “Humans are wired to absorb information that confirms their worldview, and to repel information that disputes it. The quality of that information is immaterial.” This explains my denial: in my worldview, I’m immortal. The earthquake was clearly and emphatically disputing my worldview, so my mind reacted by rejecting the information it was receiving.

Continue reading

Afraid of the Dentist

I went to visit my dentist not too long ago. Lot’s people are afraid of the dentist. And why not; my dentist is terrifying! She’s a sweet and cheerful woman with lots of long, sharp metal objects and motorized devices that, but for a well-placed shot of an anesthetic to numb half my face, would cause me more pain than I can imagine every time she gets down to business.

But the scariest thing she’s ever done to me had nothing to do with drills or dental scalers. The most frightening moment I’ve ever spent in her chair was the moment she gave me something she insisted I use every day: a toothbrush. Continue reading