Edition #1: The Bad Boy of Yoga

Also in this edition: Guide to Ecstatic Dance and Why This Astrologist Quit

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Welcome to the first edition of The Hippiecritical.

This is a regular roundup of of magic hippie dust interesting content from the world of the weird, new age and esoteric.

This may range from world of alternate health to what hippies are now doing at festivals.

This week, I cover: a new guide to Ecstatic Dance, the Bikram yoga scandal and why one woman quit astrology.

Ecstatic Dance (link to guide)

The first time I did ecstatic dance, I felt awkward, uncomfortable and…more free than ever.  I explain in this new guide the benefits of ecstatic dance, its origins, and how to find one to attend.

Hippie Index Rating: 100% Worth Trying

In 2019, it was my favorite new “hippie practice” – it’s low cost and low risk. There’s major upsides, and the community is great. 

Anyway, read the guide and let me know – will you try Ecstatic Dance? 

The “Bad” Boy of Yoga

I watched the Netflix documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” last week. 

The doc covers the rise of Bikram Choudhoury in America. He set up a business that wasn’t only lucrative, but funneled vulnerable women into the practice. In 2013, a series of sexual assault allegations were made against Bikram.

Bikram has not returned to U.S. soil since he fled, and still conducts trainings all around the world. 
This Guardian article covers the Bikram controversy in detail, including how he got away with things for so long: 

“Many trainees feared losing the thousands of dollars they had already spent on the fees. Their livelihood depends on putting up with it. The problem was that Bikram had set things up in such a way that, without his continued patronage, you can’t teach anywhere else. So some of his victims would come back to his training and just try to take precautions.”

After watching the documentary, I was curious about how many studios still went by the name “Bikram Yoga.”

Turns out, there’s still a handful in LA.

My first reaction was surprise. “How could there be so many yoga studios still touting Bikram’s name when the allegations against him are so widely known?,” I thought. 

Turns out, Bikram’s ex-lawyer Miki Jafa-Bodden won a sexual harassment suit against Bikram, but never got paid since he fled the country. The court turned over Bikram’s assets – including rights to his U.S. based yoga studios – to Jafa-Bodden. 

“All of which leaves Jafa-Bodden with a dilemma. She is effectively president of Bikram Inc. But there is a serious issue with the name: in the process of de-Bikramisation, she wants to separate the yoga from the man who created it – not so easy when it’s a brand known the world over (most devotees don’t make the connection with the megalomaniac in Speedos). And she still remains devoted to the Bikram community. Can she rebuild the business as something new?” 

As someone who’s tried hot yoga (it wasn’t a Bikram studio) and thought it was a great workout, this made me question…

When something becomes useful, but society discovers that the person who created it is corrupt…what’s the “right” thing to do?

It’s the anchoring effect at play, when people depend on “an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments.”

Let’s say that it was discovered that Walt Disney was a sexual offender. Would the company change names? The business is so much bigger than who he was at the time of founding Disney. 

I find this to be…an interesting and uncomfortable thing to think about. 

Why this woman quit astrology

I think it’s brave whenever someone publicly shares how they believe they’re wrong about something.

Felicity Carter wrote this Guardian article on how people paid her to be astrologer, and why she had to quit. Here’s one quote that resonated with me:

“It turned out what most people want is the chance to unload for an hour. The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends.”

The Atlantic has a great piece on why astrology is so popular with Millennials (hint: it’s all about stress).

While astrology is widely regarded as non-scientific, it’s making more and more sense to me as a combination of entertainment and stress relief. 

The world is chaotic and our brains demand order.

Horoscopes are mostly free, personalized and anonymous. I can understand why it could help as a way to get a sense of assurance in life, just as countless people around the world pray to their deities. 

(Plus – there’s far worse addictions people use to comfort themselves.)

But when does this become dangerous? Astrology is one of the big Hippiecritical topics I’ll be examining and following, so stay tuned. 

Reader Corner

I want your opinion on this newsletter (content & format). Also, I’d love interaction (email, comments, etc) on the topics covered today: 

  • What do you think of Ecstatic Dance? 
  • Have you ever tried Bikram yoga? 
  • What’s your take on astrology and horoscopes? 
Oz Chen

Oz Chen

Oz is the host of Hippiecritical, a blog and podcast exploring new age trends with both skepticism and an open heart. He's a designer + writer by day, hippie whisperer by night.

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