A rambling tale of how and why I felt the need to accidentally not start my own hypothetical parody yoga label….
Land locked and going loco in the belly of the beast of Alberta, a Canadian province so entrenched in its economic bind to the Oil and gas industry and the associated greed that no one would ever even pause to consider the reality that there is a hockey team literally named “the oilers”, I found my metaphorical umbilical cord connecting me to the ocean and all of the stoke it usualy provides me…severed.
I was drawn to this part of the world for the mountains and snow, the long winter and due to how different it is to my home on the east coast of Australia. I came just for something completely different.
With no connection to the ocean, surf and my normal salty source of soul nourishing escape and I was forced to seek alternative means of escapism and solitude. I started practicing yoga.
In this day and age yoga studios are spreading rampantly throughout the western world. Perhaps they provide a temporary solace of sorts to those seeking a way to literally catch their breath and temporarily step off the ever increasing pace of the run away freight train of the modern world, excessive consumption, rampant exploitation of natural resources and the associated environmental destruction… or perhaps they are just another just another commercialized fad popularized by celebrities for people to consume more and work on developing their ego.
In lieu of true contentment amidst “comfortable” lives lived devoid of any physical labor, spirituality or religion, the uptake of yoga in the western world may be a systemic coping mechanism of a broken system as people seek temporary reprieve and a means to continue to prop themselves up both physically and mentally.
But in all of this, if the root of the problem is never truly addressed, or the motivation in embracing the practice compromises or even completely misses the intended purpose… the outcome is only ever going to be sustained discontentment.
Recently the Hindu America Foundation launched a “take yoga back” campaign as an attempt to disassociate what yoga has come to represent in the west with its true origins and intentions… Read “Seeing and the Yoga Sutra”
“The popularity of yoga continues to skyrocket in the Western world as yoga studios become as prevalent as Starbucks and the likes of Lululemon find continued success in the mass marketing of $108 form enhancing yoga pants. As this $6 billion industry completes one Suryanamaskar (sun salutation) after another, there has been growing concern from the Hindu American Foundation about a conscious delinking of yoga from its Hindu roots.”
…And so the run away freight train of capitalism convinces us to shackle our selves further and further in debt “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Chuck Palahniuk, 1996.
With individuals quest for temporary reprieve from reality that stems from the utter discontentment of aforementioned circumstances comes a brilliant and utterly ironic business opportunity that has created a market of its own.
The western world has a comically brilliant ability to commercialize the unthinkable. In developing brands and associated images we construct images of our selves based on what we consume. Through wearing and being seen to wear “this” brand over “that” brand we build up our own image of ourselves and hope that others will associate us with what we wish be seen to be. This ultimately stems from and exploits the intrinsic quest that all of us suffer from… to be accepted, admired, and loved. This phenomenon is also why social media, go pro’s and the selfie have become such an ingrained part of peoples modern digital technocentric existence, as people attempt to construct a digital version of them selves that others will figuratively and literally “Like”!!!
As an individual that has attempted to etch out a career of sorts in the field of environmental consulting, optimistically hoping that the cumulative efforts of my life amount to something positive, I too consciously aspire to wear certain brands that are considered to make quality products that are produced in an environmentally responsible fashion.
That is to say that there are even brands that exists that represent consuming quality products that last and in doing so consuming less.
In a twisted conflict of interests this could make myself and others aspire or justify consuming more of these quality products that certain brands make…I mean its good quality right…?
Or… maybe myself and others just want to be seen to wear these brands to portray to the world that we are conscious and savy consumers and passionate about the environment? That is kinda in vogue isn’t it??? And if this is the case is it ultimately counterproductive in the same context as the notion of slactivism…?
Slactivism: Once you have Signed an online petition, liked something on facebook to or shared a status update or a link, you might feel that you’ve already done your part, which absolves you of the responsibility to do anything more. But until you’ve put genuine time and effort into helping a cause, you really haven’t done much. In fact, if you feel that sharing a link has lifted the burden of action from you, then you’ll actually be even less likely to contribute to a cause when it matters most…
Or… as surmised in rhyme by Urthboy –
Believe they hype
Moving faster than the speed of light
Each day it’s getting harder to sleep at night
Still it’s funny
Trying to appease the guilt and worry
That comes with sunny living in the land of milk and honey
As fate would have it, we inhabit an era where
Activism’s considered sharing a facebook status
Cover the night and make Kony famous
Simplistic ideas and benevolent strangers
(So what you’re saying is)
Who gave you the authority?
Put you in a position of superiority?
You got to ask yourself, what’s the priority?
The change you wanna see or who you want to be seen to be?
And then along came the ice bucket challenge.
As a homosapien male in the modern western world it may be slightly more socially acceptable to occasionally care slightly less about ones image than female counterparts. The females of our species are perhaps more rampantly targeted and exploited by advertising and media to have a body like this persons (thigh gap fads… etc), wear this make up (and lots of it), designer clothing and walk around like a baby giraffe in ridiculously impractical shoes. From this stems things like the high quantity low quality disposable fashion industry (think H&M), “healthy” eating and cooking tv shows, cook books and food outlets and the NEED for LuLuLemon and Yoga!
That is not to say that us males are not targets… Just look around at all the muscle bound freaks smashing protein and the gym trying to look like their favorite Rugby or Hockey jock man-crush!
From all of this has stemmed the further stereotyping that yoga is for females and females should all wear brands like, but not necessarily or specifically… LouLouLemon to their yoga classes so as they roll out their mat everyone can know they are zen as fuck, spiritually enlightened & heck in addition to hundreds of dollars spent on classes each month they may have even forked out a few hundred more to complete their instructor training that they will ultimately never actually apply.
…And so enter BenBenOrange
Parody Yoga wear for REAL MEN, or Women… or who ever.
Just another brand, that means something else???
Having over the years picked up the practice of yoga and realized some of its benefits especially living in Banff over the past 9 months… I have also realized the tragic reality that some of my male compadres who still have fucks left to give might feel slightly uncomfortable about embracing something that is stereotypically dominated by the other gender.
In the same way that it’s a great tragedy that surfing as a practice is dominated by hyper aggressive males who all want to hack turns and throw buckets like the pro’s and quite literally fight for waves on crowded days (slightly intimidating circumstances for the ladies)… the reality is that ultimately many many people miss out on the respective zen/aloha/stoke that there is to be enjoyed… Just imagine paddling out as a “chick” in that chaos… & then you still have the ocean to contend with!!!
The reality is that in all of this self-conscious pursuit of something physical more so than spiritual motivated by ones ego… people miss the over all goal of simply being content and present in the moment. Hence all the Go Pro’s & Yoga pose instagram posts…?
As surmised by Allen Watts…
“I am not overly enthusiastic about the various “spiritual exercises” in meditation or yoga which some consider essential for release from the ego. For when practiced in order to “get” some kind of spiritual illumination or awakening, they strengthen the fallacy that the ego can toss itself away by a tug at its own bootstraps.”
I could rant on and examine why different people are drawn toward a practice like surfing or yoga. It is obvious that there are going to be numerous varying motivations and deterrents that change over the course of ones life. What is perhaps far more interesting and relevant to examine and reflect on is how overcoming these inhibitions and adopting a practice of a physical and mental activity can teach you lessons and give you an understanding and perspective of things you perhaps never anticipated or even understood at the outset. It can even begin to influence your attitude and your lifestyle.
In her Biography Susan Sontag discusses at length the roles that stereotypes play in restricting peoples ability to adopt out side of the box practices…
“The young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people”…
“I think it would be nice if men would be more feminine and women more masculine. To me, that would be a more attractive world.”
“And perhaps the sexes are more akin than people think, and the great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in one phenomenon: that man and woman, freed from all mistaken feelings and aversions, will seek each other not a opposites but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to bear in common, simply, earnestly, and patiently, the heavy sex that has been laid upon them.”
“Bro’s”…U should read this article: Teaching men to be emotionally honest.
In reflecting on my own experiences I was perhaps drawn to yoga in an attempt to adopt a practice to physically balance out the often asymmetric action of snowboarding throughout the Canadian winter. Ive realized over my time that there are benefits beyond the physical in any activity… even if that might be a primary motivator in actively engaging in them.
Being pretty hyper active I benefited through regularly taking time out to calm my mind and refocus thoughts on a regular basis. It provides time to not only reconnect with our bodies, but our minds aswell. This is more important now than ever as we are forever being bombarded with information and stimulus. In taking the time out to reflect regularly we can remain more conscious and selective about what we consume both mentally and physically.
Whilst practicing yoga and snowboarding I attempted to recreate the same physical and mental escape that I have been blessed to tap into through embracing practices like surfing or running or even things like fishing regularly back home.
These practices are all just positive vices we can tap into to help try and balance out our lives and seek contentment in endorphin induced stoke rather than other material things that are packaged up and sold as the solution. Ultimately this can help make people happier and healthier and more in touch with and appreciative of the playground that is our earth.
Our society tells us that we have to compete with one another and bench mark our level of achievements even with the commercialization of things like yoga and surfing.
The reality is that its the process of self improvement and realizing and sharing ones potential that is what provides real source of stoke not the stress of performing and competition. Sure this may play a role in the progression of extreme sports but at the end of the day the person out there having the most fun with their friends is the real winner 😀
Competition in surfing or yoga…is like waking up half way through the night and trying to get back to sleep when you know you have to get up super early but there is a super bright clock beaming the time across you hotel room… you can easily become completely distracted by the task of needing to get back to sleep because your all of a sudden consciously aware of time.
Let go of the external pressures you feel placed upon you by society and age or gender stereotypes, open your mind and live more consciously. Jump into all of the activities you might have ever though about doing and embrace and share all of the joy equally with everyone.
Work LESS. Play MORE. Have more fun. Be a happier healthier person. Get out side. Engage with people and enjoy the planet. Be humbled by nature. Realize its in big trouble. Care more for it!
I met Will Gadd in my times in Banff. This vid is awesomely inspirational.
& this vid is just awesome…
and finally…Its NEVER TOO LATE…
BenBenOrange yoga wear for MEN, or women… might be made with 100% recycled products sourced locally from thrift stores and re-branded to mean new things to you and other people!!! WOW!
T-Shirts & active where coming soon?