Category Archives: Yoga

Downward Dogs

bikram

https://thewalrus.ca/yogas-culture-of-sexual-abuse-nine-women-tell-their-stories/

The above link tells the story of 9 women who spent time with Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga.

‘Whether they spent days, months, or years with Jois, all of the women describe an environment in which the guru was permitted to freely assault his female students.’

Sorry if you thought i was going to share how holy and spiritual Ashtanga yoga is.

In their own words, ‘It’s okay’ was the common response they got when they shared their unfortunate incidents with the yoga community.

Fact is Pattabhi Jois was a fucking asshole that displayed a holier-than-thou appearance of saviour on the outside, while violating women who came to seek him to learn something, like most ‘Godmen’ or cult gurus.

Then there’s the other famous asshole – Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, who actually tried to copyright yoga. Of course his copyright claim got shut down, deservedly, by a federal court.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/18/bikram-hot-yoga-scandal-choudhury-what-he-wanted

‘Born in Kolkata in 1946, he claimed to have been invited to America by Richard Nixon, and to have taught yoga to the Beatles and Nasa astronauts. He once told a class that he invented the disco ball.’ He also claimed to have launched Michael Jackson’s career.

I don’t want to smack this guy against a wall, i want to smack people who believe impostors like him against a wall.

When confronted by a journalist on camera about the rape allegations, he went on to say ‘Why do I have to harass women? People spend $1m for one drop of my sperm.’

Don’t even get me started on Baba Ramdev.

The scene isn’t very different today. Now there’s a million yogis and hence a billion scary stories. All you have to do is spend a few weeks talking to the naive young girls who’ve landed in Rishikesh ‘The Yoga Capital of The World’ from all around the world for their teacher’s certificates, to heal their broken hearts, to escape an abusive husband, etc.

Sometimes they leave with no certificate, but a full blown case of herpes.

The last time I was there for barely 8 days, a counsellor i met had spoken to 12 women that contracted STDs. Two holy yogis were counting bars in prison, when the number should ideally be a few dozens. Most women who’ve gone through a terrible episode are either ashamed to talk about it, or threatened into silence, so a lot of the scumbags roam free feeling invincible. Toxic masculinity and bro-culture thrives like virus.

Is it that men can’t resist abusing a small amount of power they may have over meek subjects?

Yes, absolutely.

Forgive me for the generalization, but good yogis do exist. And all one has to do is some research about their yoga school of choice, or ask people. I’m all ears if you want to know where to learn yoga and get your certification. But it’s most certainly not Rishikesh, unless you get into 5 or 6 of the good ones where there aren’t any vampire flesh lusting garbage men. Some of them are on hoardings bigger than the hoardings for the latest iPhone.

Most yoga schools there, and around India, don’t even give you a recognized certificate cos they go to the local printer and get some sheet of paper laminated and handed to you for your $3000. That’s not a fair deal, if you ask me. And if you just google rishikesh yoga, you’ll get over 350 results for ‘yoga retreats’. If that doesn’t smell fishy to you, I’m concerned about your mental state.

Of course, they might teach you how to do the headstand and the downward dog, but really, that alone doesn’t contribute to yoga. There’s much more than some physical twisting and bending and showing off. There’s much more to yoga than your yoga mat and your yoga pants. I could write a book about this subject but for now i’ll leave it at that and request you to do your research. There’s a handful of good schools around India that make your time, energy, and hard-earned money worth it. There are teachers who’ve made it their life purpose to TRY to awaken you beyond your fractal geometry neon designer yoga pants.

And while you’re at it, also do some research about where your money goes. There are ample yoga schools sending your money to religious fanatic outfits, in return for promotion and ‘legal certification’ and good terms. Like how the Mafia collected money ‘for protection’.

Yoga is a beautiful and unbelievably humbling art form (unless one is like Bikram who has a Hollywood mansion and 50 cars). Yoga has, and will continue to help a lot of people on their paths, including me and many I know. But the world we’re living in today, like I said, is infested by a lot of vampires. So be careful of the messenger. I wish you all the best and nothing but love and light on your yogic endeavours.

I’m off to teach my next class, ciao.

*** people perverting the journey is not just an observation in yoga, it also exists in any form of art or spirituality or science – it’s a disease called ‘man’, leaving his stink on anything serene ***

Advertisements

Demons

I lost a gem of a friend and brother last week. Some say it was suicide, depression. After five days of hurting, I wanted to write. And when I opened my laptop, this popped up, an old piece i wrote while fighting demons myself a while ago.

——————————————————————————————————————-

I met my shaman early 2015, and from then up for the next six to seven months, I was living a life of bliss. When i got back to India, people usually walked by me without recognizing me – cos i’d lost over 25 kilos living in the amazon. And then they pulled a shocked face and silence when they realised it was me. Many thought I’d gone through some near-death illness. Or drowned in an ocean of drugs. My own folks thought my abused liver had finally given up on me. On the contrary, i’d never felt healthier. And happier. Of course, happiness is relative and all that, but i was beyond happiness.

For more than a year, i went through this state of bliss. Almost a feeling of invincibility. Walking on clouds. There was no shortage of anything. Love, friends, joy, laughter, I thought i couldn’t be any happier. And i thought it was how it’d be forever. Riding the wave of absolute ecstasy.

One thing i forgot during this phase, was nothing really lasts. Impermanence – that old Buddhist term.

Fast forward to April 2016. Something changes. Before that change, I feel different. Like a warning signal in the pit of my stomach. Something bad is around the corner. Dark clouds on the horizon. I love dark clouds, but these were going to last way longer than i thought, and they weren’t the dark clouds you see above the ocean.

In the few months since, everything in my life has come crashing down around me. The love, the warmth, the laughter and joy. I tried looking for answers, but that search drove me deeper and deeper into isolation, depression, and a never ending tunnel with no light in sight. Things slipped away from me and i could do nothing about it. A big fat FUCK YOU from bliss itself.

Every thing i touch turns to dust. Every move i make is jinxed. I’ve gone from self-loving to self-doubting, self-admonishing, maybe even self-loathing.

Once that self-love turns into loathing, things get very dark. Both outside, and inside your head. A cold wave creeps into your otherwise warm senses. Compassion gets drained out. Confidence gets deflated. Groove gets killed.

That pit in your stomach is now a black hole. Sucking you from the inside. Leeching on life force. Seeking to destroy. My own mind has turned into my greatest enemy.

At this period in time, the only resort in my isolation and loneliness has been yoga, meditation, and books. On the rare occasion i push myself to write, like now.

Just like enlightenment can hit anyone without warning, so can depression. Because I forgot equanimity. I held on to the bliss without respect, i took it for granted. Like a child with the cotton candy, i greedily chomped on, till it ran out.

Suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet.

I couldn’t be happy for myself. There was nothing to be happy about. I couldn’t meet people for fear of showing my dark unhappy side. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t share love and joy with anyone. The moodiness was clamouring over me. I started to sleep longer hours, telling myself that the numbness of sleep was better than the dark of the waking hours. Better than all the thoughts running through my conscious mind. The dreams I saw were sometimes better than what real life had for me when i woke up, which was – absolutely nothing. I was never one for making plans, but now i couldn’t cook a dish without fucking it up. Hopeless. Powerless.

Soon I was in a corner, hiding from friends and family. Hiding the truth. Telling myself this was going to end in the worst way possible. Get a grip get a grip. This is going to end in the most peaceful way possible. Kill yourself. Get a grip.

‘How are you Bijou?’

‘i’m good!’

I lied.

Here’s the thing though. There is no cure. There is no drug. There is no short cut. I have to fight it.

The only healing, is acceptance. Time only heals if you accept you need healing.

Ride the wave, fall down. Climb up, try again, ride again. Sometimes it’s a long ride. Sometimes it’s a quick crash.

I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ve got nowhere to run.

——————————————————————————————————————-

I survived that ordeal, for now. Things get better. Then things turn to shit. The wave will continue to make you, or break you. Accept whatever the outcome, but don’t give up on it. But really, despite how many times you tell people to ‘talk to someone, get help’, most don’t. It’s just how this works. It’s the greatest battle we fight, the one with our own mind – our best friend, and our greatest enemy.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we jump.

Next time you come across someone ‘not being themselves’, talk to them. Be proactive. Cos they will not talk about it. They will not open out to you, cos they’re scared of being vulnerable. They’re scared of being seen as weak and feeble. They’re terrified you will turn your back on them cos you only love them when they’re happy. I know cos i was there. I have family and friends who’d have cursed me if i did some terrible shit. A lot, a lot. I’m grateful for them, and that gratitude alone helped me fight harder.

The opposite of depression is not euphoria, it’s connection. Connect with those who need it.


Auroville’d

Last night’s red earth ‘dance floor’ in the midst of this little forest in Auroville was packed by happy sweaty kids in the 15-80 age group, kicking up a dust storm. Glorious sight. They don’t know Johnny B, but DJ Bijou is a pretty sick DJ i tell ya.

IMG_20170318_154106.JPG

It was hot, but nobody wanted the music to stop. ONE MORE! They kept screaming at midnight. Then again a few minutes later. Then they convinced the 70 yr old owner of the place to let me play 10 more minutes. Never thought I’d go beyond Pune/Bangalore deadlines here. What was familiar was a query I’ve barely heard recently but keeps reminding me of 1:15 am in Bombay ‘Where’s the afterparty??? Where are you playing now? Can you bring your music to my party instead?’

I gratefully declined all offers to play any afterparty, and went home exhausted to my bed for a full 9 hours of sleep. I’d started the day at 7 am to teach yoga, and ended at 1:30 am as a DJ in a pirate costume. Subconsciously, maybe that was my tribute to the piratebay. Last week I was at Solitude Farms, harvesting tomatoes, papaya, eggplant, basil, radish, bananas and a hundred other kitchen ingredients between 8 am and noon, but fucking hell it’s hot, I cant do that anymore.

I have no idea how time just flew this last month, but 6 gigs, one rescued puppy, yoga lessons, and a few steak visits to Pondicherry later, I think it’s time to head to the hills a little west. If its not cold enough, maybe ill head North.

Before I got here, the memories I had of Auroville are visions of a dry and arid desert terrain, scorched red earth, and plants fighting for water and survival. I was still in school when my dad dragged my ass to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and then for a day visit to Auroville, and it’s a far cry from those days now. Now there are forests, gardens, treehouses, huts, eateries, swimming pools, pizza, and snakes too. So far, they’ve kept their distance from me, and the one I found in my shoe, popped out before I slipped my foot in.

For those living under a rug, Auroville’s an international city. More like a village for me, given the 10 pm deadline, but it’s just what I needed. There’s more than 50 nationalities living here, and the population is around 2500 aurovilleans, and a few thousand other visitors, guests and newcomers applying to be Aurovillean. You have to live here for 2 years to be considered an aurovillean, which then comes with privileges like food and shelter, and basic living costs. But that’s way too long term. If you’re coming in for a visit, its possible your weekend plans get extended to a few weeks or months, if you’ve got nothing better to do.

For the budget traveller, there’s permaculture farms you can live in for about 150 a day (Buddha Garden) provided you put in a few hours of work every day on the fields. There are regular backpacker guesthouses like Reve for 300-400 a day. Then there’s the top end place like Afsaneh, at around 3000 a night, you have homes that looks straight out of a new-age home design magazine, and a pool that looks so exquisite, I felt bad to dip my dirty foot into it. And there’s something for every budget in between.

Food joints range from 30 bucks for 2 kerala porotas and chicken curry at Dinesh, to Rs.800 a meal steak-houses. Italian omelette and coffee at Marc’s is addictive, the pizza at Tanto is beautiful. Considering the wide range of nationalities living here, there’s every kind of food available too. Sort of like Goa, but a little more authentic in its hippie-ness. Alcohol is frowned upon, though a visit to Pondicherry will help you bag alcohol at Goa rates. Pondicherry is just about 10 km away, and boasts some of the finest steak joints I’ve ever been to.

There’s gigs every week, Solitude Farms’ Krishna MacKenzie has the title of being the king of gigs in this little town, promising a gig every Thursday night at his farm. Krishna himself is the singer-guitarist of Emergence, having toured US and UK in the last decade. You can volunteer at his farm for a couple of weeks and come out feeling pretty enlightened about growing your own food. Sve-Dame, Well Café, Youth Centre and Yatra are other popular gig venues. Once you get in the know, there’s everything from Salsa nights to Jazz concerts. You can forget about drum n bass and techno though. None of that noisy shit works here. A- there’s no drugs and alcohol, B- there’s not many angry people, C- I already told you about the 10 pm deadline.

In the last month the only downer was an hour of Hibiscus Art Festival during my first week here, when 2 dudes played under the name Midizen, and played the kind of shit techno-indian-fusion that gets those Kasol chillum lovers on their feet, but for the rest it sounds like someone threw us back to 1993, when the flute theme techno remix of Jackie Shroff’s Hero was a hit. That music died in the 90s and should stay dead for everybody’s sake. The rest of that festival was amazing, with crepes, acoustic performances, drum circle, handmade jewellery, and mint juice. I cant believe I said mint juice.

Destiny – last night it was me replacing that bunch of boring DJs, for a set that Auroville won’t be forgetting any time soon. I should come a little closer to the earth now.

 

AAAAAOOOOOMMMMMMMM…

 


Bend it Like Me

Stretching the resume a little bit. I’m a certified yoga teacher now. No, seriously.

So if you need a DJ for the night that’ll kick off yoga lessons in the quiet room at the afterparty, call Johnny B. Say farewell to hangovers and blocked noses!!!

If you just need a yoga teacher, call. Do it do it.

Think of the possibilities here. Great soundtracks for yoga!

Huge shout out to the peeps at Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik. And the amazing batch 104 of Yoga TTC there.

I’m damn excited. I can’t wait to get you all bendy.

IMG-20160301-WA0000
IMG_20160301_112416