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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 23, 2012 01:16AM

Niels Bukh and Danish Primitive Gymnastics

"But how many Westerners would have been so eager to spend their lives doing Downward Dog or Fish pose without the assurance that these postures came with a venerable history going back 3,000 or 10,000 or (I don't know) 100,000 years?"

Some telling citations from Google. Bukh was not himself a Nazi but he did give demonstrations in Berlin. And he was eager to find ways to link physical development with patriotism.

See how easily this would link in with the ideals of the Indian Liberation movement, eh?

Bukh was active in the 1930s, right when the Quit India movement was on full boil.



Friday, October 1, 2010
Yoga As We Know It I knew it, I knew it! I have long been suspicious of the claims that my yoga teachers have made about the great antiquity of the postures that they were teaching us. Okay, so there were sculptures of yogis and Buddhas sitting in Lotus, but where were all the Downward Dogs and Warriors, Headstands and Forward Bends? Why couldn't any of the books show us illustrations or even properly referenced descriptions of these poses in the ancient sources if there were any? Well, as historian Mark Singleton has recently reported in Yoga Journal (November 2010), it's because there aren't.*

It gets better (or worse, depending on how important you think antiquity is). Not only aren't these poses--and more or less all of the others which aspiring yogis and yoginis practice so diligently in yoga studios and health clubs the (Westernized) world over--particularly ancient. They aren't even Indian.

They are, you guessed it, Western to begin with. To be exact, 19th-century Scandinavian.

Everything--the five-count format, the abdominal "locks", the jump-through and the postures--appears in an early 20th-century Danish system called Primitive Gymnastics which was itself a derivative of a 19th-century Scandinavian model that, as Singleton explains, "sprang up throughout Europe and became the basis for physical training in armies, navies, and many schools. These systems also found their way to India. In the 1920s, according to a survey taken by the Indian YMCA, Primitive Gymnastics was one of the most popular forms of exercise in the whole subcontinent, second only to the original Swedish gymnastics developed by P.H. Ling."

And guess who decided that it would be a good thing to teach this form of exercise as yoga? Right: modern yoga founding fathers Kuvalayananda (1883-1966) and T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), the latter the teacher of such global yoga luminaries as B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and T.K.V. Desikachar.

I love it. Here we've been, for the past, oh, twenty or thirty or sixty years worrying about the effects of bringing yoga to the West, corrupting its spiritual tradition by teaching it in health clubs as "merely" gymnastics--and all along, that's what it was, exercise.

To be sure, Krishnamacharya blended his gymnastics with philosophical teachings from orthodox Hinduism and Ayurveda. But the postures we Westerners have been flocking to India to learn for the past two or three generations were arguably so appealing to those from our culture because they already were ours, just dressed up in fancy new names. Yes, these postures were appealing to the Indians, too, thus all those classes in the 1920s at the YMCA. But how many Westerners would have been so eager to spend their lives doing Downward Dog or Fish pose without the assurance that these postures came with a venerable history going back 3,000 or 10,000 or (I don't know) 100,000 years?

Singleton confesses to having experienced something like a crisis of faith at this point in his research: how could he continue teaching his own students these postures if they did not in fact have their roots in the ancient tradition of Patanjali, the Upanishads and the Vedas?

He concludes that it doesn't really matter.

They don't need to be ancient to be "authentic," they are simply a modern graft onto the great tree of yoga.

But I wonder. Would he have come to the same conclusion if he had found, as I just did on a search in Google books**, that Niels Bukh, the founder of "Primitive Gymnastics," was particularly inspired by his contemporary athletics promoter, Adolf Hitler, and that he expressly intended his "serial gymnastics" (shades of Ashtanga) for men?***

*Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford, 2010).

**For Singleton's book, but also for images that I might use to illustrate this post.

***Hans Bonde, "The Iconic Symbolism of Niels Bukh: Aryan Body Culture, Danish Gymnastics," in Shaping the Superman: Fascist Body as Political Icon, ed. J.A. Mangan (London, 2000), vol. 2, pp. 104-118.****
****[Update: In answer to my rhetorical question, yes, he would. In his book, Singleton shows in detail how the fusion of yoga with athletic and body-building physical culture was closely bound up with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ideals of "manliness." He likewise, however, points to a different, contemporary culture of breathing and stretching developed by women in the West which would seem to underpin the yoga practice of many Western women today.

Either way, yoga as we know it has deep roots in the West.]

Here is an article, The Nation in Movement by Henning Eichberg



The second story is about quite another type of movement, the Danish tradition of gymnastics. This was linked to patriotism.

In 1931, theDanish gymnastic leader Niels Bukh organised a tour around the world with his gymnastic team. This is what heexperienced in Korea, which at that time was under Japanese military rule.


“Our good reminiscences from China and Korea are related to crowds of people and Danish flags at thereception at the railway stations of Mukden and Seoul and to children’s choirs singing Danish songs there.When we demonstrated our gymnastics in the stadium of Seoul and let our flag down in front of 35 000amazed people who were jubilant for Denmark, and when the large students' choir was singing 'KingChristian' (the Danish national anthem), we all felt stronger than ever before how wonderful it was to beDanish and to serve Denmark.”

13Niels Bukh’s gymnastics had their roots in the democratic farmers' folkelig gymnastics and were presented in the Olympics of Stockholm 1912, Antwerp 1920 and Berlin 1936. But their new disciplinary form was met by anespecially warm welcome in militaristic Japan as well in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Niels Bukh was himself-impressed by the Germany of 1933, which he, though he was not exactly a National Socialist himself, regarded asa model for Denmark

Footnoted source

14 H. Eichberg in J.A. Mangan, 1996 (ed.), Tribal Identities. Nationalism, Europe, Sport, London, pp. 108-124. H. Bonde 2003,The Battle of Youth: Niels Bukh and the Creation of Modern Gymnastics (1880-1950), Copenhagen

Bukh was a patriot and operating to assist in consolidating ego-identity, not transcending it. This does not mean his method is bad, but its intentions are the opposite of what modern yoga claims in its outreach when it advertises transcendance of ego. Its interesting the extent to which modern yoga generates cliques and 'scenes'.

I never witnessed that kind of snootiness among people who were committed to Pilates.

Niels Bukh and National Socialism


NB and Volkisch


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 23, 2012 01:50AM

Gymnastics and Politics: Niels Bukh and Male Aesthetics by Hans Bonde



Niels Bukh (1880–1950) is one of the most well known Danes; during the 1930s he was arguably the internationally most famous, and, by virtue of his politics, most notorious Danish citizen. Bukh founded the Danish school of modern gymnastics, as a latter-day Danish equivalent of the father of Swedish gymnastics Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839); however, he developed and transformed Lingian gymnastics in a way that affected even Swedish gymnastics. Bukh’s team of elite gymnasts toured the world, demonstrating the Bukh system of ”primitive gymnastics”.

This was particularly appreciated in dictatorships, and Bukh himself had a special predilection for right-wing authoritarian regimes. The Danish sport historian Hans Bonde has written a major biography of Bukh, Gymnastics and Politics: Niels Bukh and Male Aesthetics (Museum Tusculanum Press), which demonstrates the better-known aspects of Bukh’s life and work, as well as some obscure elements – his homosexuality, his intimate contacts with and open support of the German Nazi regime and ideology. We asked Dr Wendy Varney, lecturer at the University of Wollongong for a review, and she finds the book fascinating – worth having and worth reading. Shame, though, about the absence of an index in the book, which seriously limits its use as an historical resource

What Professor Varney notes is that the appeal of Bukh's system to dicators was its effectiveness at utilizing physical movenment to facilitate embodied indoctrination in groups.

"Nevertheless, it appears that some specific components of Bukh’s style of gymnastics, perhaps most especially the conduciveness to notions of the organism, endeared it to authoritarian regimes, beyond its usefulness for military precision and ideological conformity"

Ring bells anyone?


Niels Bukh – A Life of Fame and Shame

Wendy Varney
School of Social Sciences, Media and Communication, University of Wollongong, Australia

Bukh had already developed a pluck and determination that saw him through his setback of non-selection and urged him towards greater achievements, not the least being the development of new styles of gymnastics, one of the most important being what came to be known as “primitive gymnastics.” Bukh both built on and departed from Lingian gymnastics, which was popular in Denmark in the early 20th Century, but he also drew on several threads from other innovators, especially the French gymnastics educator Lieutenant Hébert who had his marine soldier-gymnasts perform with naked torsos and bolder movements than had previously been seen within the sport.

Bukh embraced both of these characteristics but added to them, designing highly intensive exercises to strengthen and enlarge the chests of his male gymnasts, many of whom were farm lads. He also had key exercise components that aimed at radically enhancing the suppleness of the gymnasts, using flexibility techniques by working in pairs, with each gymnast pushing or pulling in turn with flexing. This involved substantial body contact and touching that was a radical departure from other gymnastic forms. Despite the added muscularity and dynamics that Bukh also introduced, this touching and the aesthetic side to which his style gave rise caused criticism of his style as too “feminine.” Bonde points out that this was dangerous for Bukh as he was trying to conceal his homosexuality.

Yet at the Ollerup folk high school for gymnastics, set up by Bukh in the early 1920s, his sexual preferences were well known at least to those close to him. Bonde contrasts the private rooms within the school, which “bore the signs of Bukh’s homosexual aesthetic” with the exterior of the school and all that it stood for, manifesting “a heterosexual youthful and physical profile.” This simple contradiction is, in many ways, symbolic of Bukh’s life at large.

As his story continues, the contradictions and ironies become compounded. Perhaps none of these is more interesting than the question of how someone who built so much of his image around Danish nationalism could keep this image intact – though not in the eyes of everybody – once he had collaborated with the Nazi regime.

Bukh’s dalliances with dictatorships preceded his relationship with Hitler. While right-wing dictatorships seemed to appeal to him, he was much less tolerant of what he witnessed in the Soviet Union, which he visited as part of his 1931 World Tour. At that time forced collectivism was underway, with dire consequences for many rural folk, so the Soviet regime no doubt hoped to avail itself of some of the imagery that Bukh had evoked around ideals of agricultural youth working in dedication and collectively towards notions of common advancement. These images were similar to the representations of rural people drawn by artists in the Stalin era but they were far different from the tired and often emaciated Soviet farm workers whom Bukh encountered. Even prior to his visit, he had become involved with the anti-Communist movement and now he stepped up his criticism of the Soviet Union, while simultaneously voicing support for Japan which he also visited and which, according to Bonde, was among the most successful of his tours.

Bonde claims that Bukh’s gymnastics had a strong influence on Japan, whose militarisation was increasing rapidly at that time, with social ramifications such as the curtailment of sports seen to be Anglo-American. Peoples’ gymnastics rallies suited the government well and fitted in with its intentions. The influence of Bukh’s gymnastics survived the war and, according to Bonde, even today Japanese workers and school children can be seen practising a style of gymnastics that have clearly been inspired by Bukh.

However, it was Bukh’s relationship with Nazi Germany that raises the most complex issues in relation to sport, politics, cults and nationalism. By 1933 it was evident that Bukh was admiring of Hitler and he took the opportunity to visit Berlin as part of tours he was invited to undertake to Hungary and Austria. During this tour he engaged in anti-Semitic activities and comments that left no doubt that his actions, as well as his ideals, were in alignment with Nazism. The Nazi regime, encouraged and buoyed by his political leanings, brought him into its fold and used his position and status on numerous occasions. For instance, sports/political rallies such as Bukh’s 1933 gymnastic display in Berlin incorporated both Danish national and German Nazi symbols to such a degree that Bonde asks readers to ponder whether these were Danish national events or rather manifestations of a Nordic-Germanic racial alliance.

Bukh’s socialisation with Nazis and their use of him for propaganda purposes during and following the Berlin Olympics incensed many Labour supporters back in Denmark who saw his actions as treachery. Among those critical of Bukh was Frede Hansen, who had been among Bukh’s first gymnasts. Writing in the periodical Dansk Idræt, Hansen claimed that Nazism was both inhuman and culturally hostile and asked what Danish youth were “doing in Naziland.”

Hitler, of course, had plans for a greater German power sphere that would include the Nordic countries. Bukh must have known this but appears to have tried to interpret it as somehow being to Danish advantage. Eventually, he was decorated with the Service Cross of the Order of the German Eagle, first class, among the highest decorations bestowed by the Nazis and one which leaves us in no doubt as to whether Bukh’s collaboration was serving them or the Danish people better.

Not surprisingly, the Nazi regime used Bukh, his influence at home and his embracing of all things Danish, not least the Danish flag which he had promoted on his many tours and which had helped elevate him to grand nationalist. Though his cult status remained, there were many that deeply resented his position as an apologist and as a supporter of the occupiers.

For his part, Bukh may also have used these regimes, according to Bonde who insists that, for all his complexities, the man was a pragmatist and he saw that his gymnastics would achieve a much greater profile and international acceptance by taking tours overseas and building relationships with regimes which could help promote his sport. Authoritarian regimes seemed most useful in this way.

One of the strengths of Bonde’s very thorough research is that it demonstrates, with wide applicability to many other countries, eras and situations, that Bukh’s support for Nazism was both direct and indirect. His supportive role by virtue of speeches expressing admiration for Hitler and his selection of blonde gymnasts with blue eyes, thereby validating the Nazi racial theory, is obvious. There was also much physical collaboration, with Nazi Olympic officials regarding him sufficiently that they visited him at his Ollerup school to issue a special invitation with regard to the upcoming Olympic Games which were already suffering an international image of being turned into a political festival for the Nazis and a chance for them to display the perceived best examples of their racial theories. Bonde wonders, as do I, whether there was also something very useful about the style of Bukh’s gymnastics and the way in which he put together his displays, which gave indirect sustenance to the Nazis and their ideas. It appears to have been not just Bukh whom the Nazis favoured but his gymnastics displays which they felt contained a successful demonstration of an organism overcoming and suppressing its parts in deference to the whole, a useful symbolism for the Nazis, especially as Bukh’s displays were so successfully precise and integrated.

Of course the delight in the ideological precision and uniformity of gymnastics displays is not unique to the Nazis. The Soviet bloc long made use of displays to garner approval for its leaders and to showcase the vitality, efficiency and commitment of socialist youth. Nevertheless, it appears that some specific components of Bukh’s style of gymnastics, perhaps most especially the conduciveness to notions of the organism, endeared it to authoritarian regimes, beyond its usefulness for military precision and ideological conformity. This is an area of research and analysis that begs to be taken up further. It should not fall exclusively to Bonde who has already opened up rich areas for discussion.

As well as a fine story about a complex person who has played such an important role both politically and in relation to the development of gymnastics, Bonde’s book includes numerous photographs of great interest plus a bonus DVD, making it an invaluable resource for historians and all who recognise the links between sport and politics as worthy of exploration.

So if you find yourself in either of these categories – or even if you have simply had your interest aroused – the book is worth having and reading. Because of its worth as an historical resource, it is a great shame that it does not include an index. This means that fellow researchers will find it difficult to make full use of it as the source it otherwise might be. Nevertheless, Gymnastics and Politics: Niels Bukh and Male Aesthetics has many strengths to compensate.

© Wendy Varney 2007

What people are turning to to learn peace of mind and spirit was originally popular as a way to do body building so as to be a good patriot, soldier, sailor--or revolutionary.


The day when you found out that Santa didn’t existJanuary 28th, 2011 §



Remember back when you were a kid, ... then came that day when, either your parents decided it was time to tell you the truth, or either you heard from your friend that Santa wasn’t real.

You were disappointed, upset, and mad at the world for lying to you all this time. You cried, but that wouldn’t make Santa any more real than he was. You felt your world crumbling, like you couldn’t trust again. You felt cheated.

That same feeling and emotion came back to me just a couple of days ago... but for something that I’ve based my daily life and my practice on–yoga.

The most popular form of Yoga as we know of today is largely comprised of asanas, or postures that challenge our bodies physically.

However, what I’ve found out recently is that these asanas are rarely, rarely described in ancient yogic texts.

*(And not portrayed on statues or in paintings. The lotus posture yes--you see pictures of that. But not downward dog or cobra pose. India has produced a rich array of visual images. So absence of these common yoga postures in any ancient sculpture or painting is a significant omission. There are plenty of paintings depicting courtly life in Hindu kingdoms--why no depictions of cobra or downward dog? Corboy)

Most yogic texts, such as the Yoga Sutras, for example, describes the yogic way of living and focuses more on pranayama (control of breath and energy) and dharana (focus, or placement of the mental faculty). Asanas were not the ancient yogis primary goals.

Okay, I can tolerate that. Maybe the ancient yogis just prioritized their mental health way more than their physical health, very different from the 21st century’s stress on exercise and physical activity. But these asanas still existed in ancient India thousands of years ago right?


In the November 2010 issue of Yoga Journal, Mark Singleton unveils the stunning and unsettling truth about yoga. The second day when I found out that Santa didn’t exist. I felt so cheated. All I could think at that moment was: “My teachers lied to me! K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and T.K.V. Desikachar lied to the world!“

What Singleton discovered was at once remarkable yet disturbing. While perusing the Cambridge University Library, he came across a book with picture after picture of men and women in the oh-so-familiar yoga asanas, from Warrior Pose, to Downward Dog, to Headstand, Handstand, and more. But this was not a yoga book, but rather a book describing an early 20th century Danish system of exercise called Primitive Gymnastics.

According to Singleton, the early 20th century marked a period during which there was a large struggle for independence everywhere in the world. Their logic was that, with stronger bodies they would improve the chances of defeating others in a variety of violent struggles. And so, the Europeans used these gymnastics to strengthen their bodies.

The Indian yoga gurus, once deeming any physical exercises or gymnastic-like postures as something the lower caste people do for a living, now saw the benefits of these exercises, and in turn melded the gymnastic moves into their yoga practices.

It was about this time, in the 1930s that the famous Krishnamacharya, teacher of B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, and T.K.V. Desikachar, developed a dynamic asana practice, that combined hatha yoga, wrestling exercises, and modern Western gymnastic movement into what we know of today as the vinyasa yoga system.

*(Corboy note: the 1930s were the time when the Quit India movement was at boiling point. What better way to be a good revolutionary than to become physically fluid and fit? And even if the teacher uttered not a single political word, these 'dynamic yoga' classes would have been places to assemble in ways that could not be easily monitored by the British Raj.)

Suddenly, what I believed to be a 5000-year old tradition of asana practice became less than a century old.

I wanted to learn all about Singleton’s research, so I bought his book, Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice.

I’m going to get things straight, once and for all! I need to know what this is all about!

So what am I going to do now? I still believe in my asana practice, that it is part of what’s keeping my mind and body healthy, and that it can be a spiritual exercise. But slowly, I am integrating more of yoga into my life besides just asana.

Already in the past few years I’ve seen both conscious and subconscious changes in my life. Becoming vegetarian, for example, attains to ahimsa, or nonharming, which came from Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras. I have been more conscious of how I’m treating my body, how I’m treating others, and more aware of the world of Mother Nature all around me.

Of course you were devastated when you found out that Santa didn’t exist. You sulk for a few days, maybe a week, but the world still goes around. Life goes on. Christmas still lives on. Similarly, just because yoga as we know of today may not actually be a thousand-years-old tradition, it won’t stop people from practicing yoga, be it the physical or the spiritual aspect or both. It’s that spirit within you that’s most important. Yoga teaches kindness, acceptance, and awareness. Accepting what yoga is today, regardless of its past, is the spirit of yoga. Already, yoga has brought about positive changes to thousands of people’s lives, and I believe that this is just the beginning of this new Yoga journey.

(Corboy note) but what is the 'spirit of yoga'? Apparently that 'spirit of yoga' can vary if its a class with people committed to becoming stronger in body and mind so that they can become more effective members of the India liberation movement.

Apparently depending on intention especially if shared by a teacher and majority of the students one yoga studio can teach methods that bring peace of mind, while another yoga sangha or studio can train martial artists, competitive types who want to get rich and look elegant and poised while waging war in corporate suites.

The take home lesson is that the poses were originally created by a Danish nationalist seeking ways to unite physical health and development with manhood and patriotic pride--ego.

The poses can be used to calm down (arouse and develop the parasympathetic nervous system) or to arouse us and become more ego bound, competitive, patriotic on behalf of a nation, an ideology, a guru, or (danger time!)..all three.

As the author wrote

"It’s that spirit within you that’s most important"

However, we need history to learn the spirit that was within Niels Bukh when he developed his Primitive Gymnastics, and the social consequences.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: February 27, 2012 11:16PM

More on the myths about yoga -- an article from The Toronto Star:


“The Science of Yoga”: Author William Broad talks about the risks and rewards of yoga
February 16, 2012

Nancy J. White

Yoga, the ancient tradition associated with enlightenment, holds many secrets that science is beginning to unlock. The soothing practice, now booming in North America, can lower blood pressure, spice up sex — and kill you.

That’s according to William Broad, Pulitzer Prize winning science writer and investigative reporter at The New York Times. Broad, 60, a longtime yoga practitioner, is the author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards.

He spoke to the Star about dangerous poses, the weight-loss myth and philandering gurus. Here’s an edited version of the conversation:

The hype about yoga — improves health, prolongs life, juices up sex — makes it sound miraculous. What’s the biggest myth?

By far, the number one myth is that yoga is safe. Decades of science contradict that. Yoga can be quite dangerous in ways that are worse than routine sports injuries. Some poses restrict your neck in ways that can produce strokes. Part of the brain is damaged and some of these strokes end in death.

People die from yoga?

I don’t want to hype this — it’s not common as far as we can tell. There’s not a lot of yoga epidemiology. But because the consequences are so high, people should be aware. It certainly shocked me as I discovered the science and saw the clinical reports. I dropped the Shoulder Stand and Plow poses. The danger is with a pose that involves extreme neck flexing.

Briefly, how does yoga cause a stroke?

The vertebral artery goes through the bony labyrinth at the top of the neck. You tweak your neck with extreme stretching and this delicate artery’s inner lining can tear. Blood clots form. When you move around, the clots move to your brain.

What are the more common yoga injuries?

Every joint tends to be liable. Scientist and medical doctor, Loren Fishman, associated with Columbia University, worked on an extensive global survey of yoga injuries. They found hundreds of reports and ranked them by prevalence. The greatest number of injuries centred on the lower back, then the shoulders, knees, neck. This is the underside of yoga people don’t talk about.

Let’s get to the good news: scientifically-proven health benefits. What are a few of the most important?

It’s clear that yoga releases natural chemicals in your brain that lift mood and outlook. A big study at Boston University and Harvard showed that yoga releases the neurotransmitter GABA, a feel-good brain chemical.

Overall it’s extremely good for your health, the relaxing, de-stressing, unwinding. Studies are clear on this. It’s great for cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and acts against urban stresses that wear down the body. Some emerging evidence suggests — I went into the research thinking this was a myth — that yoga fights aging by protecting spinal deterioration and on a cellular level.

Yoga can prolong your life?

This is sketchy. But some studies show an increase in telomeres (the whorl of DNA at the tip of chromosomes that is critical to cell function.) There’s evidence that yoga may work to increase their lifetime, which means the cells live longer and you do, too. That’s the leading edge of the science. The yogis I interviewed all looked 20 to 30 years younger than their chronological age.

Fact or fiction: yoga is an aphrodisiac?

Yoga stirs sex hormones and acts as a stimulant. The evidence is incontrovertible. You can see it on brain scans. Researchers at the University of British Columbia measured increased blood flow through the genitals from fast yoga breathing. One of the wildest areas, people are studying advanced yogis who can think themselves into ecstatic bliss. Researchers at Rutgers University looked at their scans — their brains lit up in ways identified with sexual orgasm — and without messing with their private parts. I say, throw away the little blue pills, guys. And get ye to a yoga studio.

It was one of the super surprises. But there’s also a dark side. You’ve got philandering gurus, guys in their 60s and 70s with one woman after another. I’ve talked to some of the women who, as young attractive girls, got seduced. It took a long time for them to work through the fact that these guys were not gods and not enlightened. They were horny old man who took advantage.

Is yoga good for losing weight?

No. That’s a big myth. The science shows over and over that yoga relaxes you and allows your metabolism to lapse into a lower state of activity. That means you burn fewer calories. If you burn fewer calories and eat your same diet, you will gain weight.

But yoga does other things on a psychological level that can help you lose weight. It helps build discipline and it helps break the stress-eating cycle. Most yoga teachers are lithe not lumpy.

Can you get fit through yoga?

That’s the third myth. It does wonderful things for fitness, such as flexibility, strengthening. But the ultimate magic bullet in modern fitness is aerobics and cardio stamina. You need to get the heart pumping and circulating a lot of blood and oxygen to vital organs. Many yoga brands and teachers advertise as offering a good aerobic workout. But science has demonstrated over and over, it’s not true. The hardest yoga workout does not meet aerobic requirements.

You don’t get the cardio highs, the aerobics. But you do get cardio benefits, such as lowering blood pressure. So the glass is kind of half empty, half full in the cardio situation.

With injuries in mind, what should you look for in a yoga teacher? And what style is good? There are so many: Anusara, Bikram, Ashtanga, Yogafit, etc.

I’m no expert, but I have opinions. Someone with experience will better know the range of human flexibility and be more likely to tailor the pose to you than you to the pose. The people who teach Iyengar yoga use lots of props — blocks, blankets — to respect your body’s limits. There haven’t been exhaustive studies on different styles, but some are gentle, some more extreme.

Why do you do yoga?

First, it relaxes me. It helps me cope. Second, it helps my bad back. First thing every morning I do Child’s Pose and Upward Dog. It helps loosen the damaged part of my spine. It’s a great way to start the day. It’s like my religion.

Is your spine damaged from yoga?

No. I believe it’s from jogging on hard pavement.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 10, 2012 01:41AM

Into the Magical Soup

-- an essay that covers much territory. Pour yourself a tall beverage of your choice and spend some time here. Well worth it.


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 15, 2012 10:18PM

Buddhism, Hinduism as Fig Leaves to Conceal Trance Methods and Large Group Tech

This was posted on a discussion of a group called Sokka Gokkai, but is universally applicable.

Written by The Anticult on March 15, 2012 04:29AM



that's why its helpful to research and study (from a skeptical cultic viewpoint) all sorts of different cults and sects. At first, it seems overwhelming. but after looking at dozens of them, even hundreds of them, you start to see they operate in very similar ways.

There is nothing at all original about how the SGI sect operates.

Every TECHNIQUE used by Ikeda has been written about by experts in the cult areas.

but with SGI, it might be a little harder at first, as they are not telling people Space Aliens inside volcanoes are controlling the UN or some crazy beliefs along those lines.
SGI hides behind some Buddhist sounding words...but its just a figleaf.

The real SGI has nothing to do with "Buddhism" that is simply the figleaf Ikeda uses to dupe the multitude, to use as a front for Ikeda moneymaking. And Ikeda has made billions of dollars.

Some goverment agency will probably do a serious investigation into SGI and global moneylaundering at some point.

And very helpful to hear that in fact SGI-Ikeda used to call it MASTER and disciple/slave, and then switched in the USA to Mentor. That is just to make it sound like pop-psychology, as SGI-USA has hired US PR agencies to manage their image.

But its really hard for those in SGI to understand that all of the SGi-speak about Buddhism, is not what SGI is really about. That is like the magician pointing to his right hand, while the left hand does the trick.
To begin to understand SGI, one has to seperate out any type of "Buddhist" ideas, from the cultic persuasion techniques which are occuring.
For those with some training in this area, the cultic persuasion techniques used by SGI-USA and Ikeda are very obvious, and have been detailed in this thread.

Anticult, the more I read your posts on this thread, the more I realize that you got this cult wrapped up pretty good in your summations.

The Anticult
As far as "mentor" that is SGI Newspeak.
SGI-USA propagandists chose the "mentor" word, as its trendy in business in the West now, and sounds inoffensive.
But its not Mentor/Colleague.
Its Mentor/Disciple.

Again, Disciple is chose carefully, as that is from the bible for most folks. A disciple is a religious FOLLOWER who follows orders.

but its not really "mentor".

That is what SGI is really selling. You do worship a "Master".
The real concept SGI is selling is...

Ikeda is the Master, and you follow orders and work for free.
Of course that is the classical cultic power-relationship, the Master totally dominates and controls you, your mind, and your life.

So SGI constantly doing that, is simply cultic Master/slave cultic brainwashing, that is all it is.

It was always MASTER during my time in the practice. It was only changed later to the more pc and neutral term "mentor" to distance it from the more pejorative connotations and baggage of the term "master" (i.e., the term wasn't flying too well to the Western mindset). The longer sg is around, the more they like to rewrite history.

MASTER & SLAVE sums it up perfectly. A mental master and a physical slave is the sg cult in a nutshell. Sometimes I just want to tell people, "Stand up, get up off your knees and take control of your own life."

In the case of Siddha Yoga (Muktananda) and SYDA Yoga (Gurumayi), the fig leaf was Hindu Kasmiri Shivism. What the figleaf concealed was the use of modern Large Group Training (LGAT) technology taught to Muktananda by his close friend and sponsor, Werner Erhard.

Of the powerful forms of trance induction used by both Muktananda and Gurumayi, there are discussions here.


and here


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 15, 2012 10:38PM

If You Think You Want to Go to India for Spiritual Progress...



So again, I am not bashing Zen, Hinduism, Satori, Atman, Wicca, or anything else. To them, that is just the "CONTENT". Focussing on CONTENT seems to be the trap most people fall into.

The PROCESS is the influence structure, and that is where to look.

And there are very very smart people who have studied that knowledge for a living for decades, and they get hired as consultants by some Gurus in secret for large amounts of money.

And now they can take that Tech, and fuse it with a specific Belief System, to make it invisible.

Add to that the tricks to make people flip into Euphoria...any many others...

Its social influence engineering. Persuasion Engineering, some are now calling it.

If you think you want to go to India or even to some weekend seminar...

Study yourself very carefully.

If you are already attending yoga classes and are chatting about your aspirations with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, you have already sacrificed most of your privacy if you have used your real name and especially if you have put your photograph anywhere, plus mentioned or dropped clues where you live.

Repeat, you have already sacrificed much of your privacy.

Next, face your social position. Namely your finances, where you went to school, your family back ground.

Because if you have money, or are from a wealthy/socially prominent family, or are married to someone with powerful media, business, political or financial connections or are a therapist or even a student therapist or physician...

You, dear reader are a high value recruit, whether you are in the First World, or go to India.

You will be courted.

A viciously cruel guru will either act nice around you, or if he or she senses you have guilt about your good fortune, will act cruel to you and have you eating out of their hands for being so 'honest' as to treat you like shit.

People can study you just by what you innocently post online. They can research the data you have placed online and figure out your wealth, your family connections, if you are a long term investment (a medical student or a student psychotherapist, someone likely acquire clients, a good income and whose professional credentials will give legitimacy to a guru.

If you are an academic, ESPECIALLY if you are in physics, mathematics, medicine, neurology, computer science, robotics, ecology -- these are specialities that carry mystique. You may be courted and seduced by dodgy gurus who are looking for academics who will sit in on 'interfaith dialogues' and give them derivative legitimacy.

Please, all you who are academics and scientists - please be aware you will be courted.

People can research you, find out you are going to India and if you mention online which hotel you are staying at, or which tourist routes you plan to take, this information can be passed on. India is full of brilliant, intelligent people who dont have jobs and who hang around, drinking chai, watching the Westerners, hanging out in hotel lobbies and hostels.

Here is something written about the Indian connection and the guru biz.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 25, 2012 11:35PM

Oprah is coming to Canada. A second Oprah's Lifeclass was added after the first one sold out in 24 hours!

Guest experts include Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Iyanla Vanzant. Tickets are priced between $49 and $395.

I'm amazed so many people would pay that much money to listen to these so called "experts" given their track records, especially when so many are dealing with financial difficulties.


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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: April 14, 2012 09:37PM

A lengthy article about Oprah and OWN.


Can Oprah Winfrey save OWN?

Published On Fri Apr 13 2012

By Vinay Menon Staff Reporter

When she arrives in town on Monday for her first broadcast on Canadian soil, Oprah Winfrey will try to forget the most daunting challenge of her life.

The two sold-out shows at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the latest stop in “Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour,” will feature Winfrey as most TV viewers remember: laughing, bubbly, confident, powerful, in control. She will dole out “life lessons.” She will gab with a slate of inspirational speakers. She will joke with the audience and mug for the cameras.

But as she basks in thundering adoration, she will be standing at the edge of a precipice, one that was unseen during her astonishing run on broadcast television for a quarter-century.

The media mogul, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, has watched in recent months as skeptics and critics have nickel-and-dimed her once sterling reputation. In describing OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, her sputtering 15-month-old cable channel, they have used words no fan can remember: mismanaged, unfocused, bland, doomed, out of control.

Now industry whispers hinge on a single question: Can Oprah Winfrey save the network that bears her name or are we witnessing the end of an era?

When OWN was announced , a joint venture between Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc., expectations soared. Many believed this would be the most successful launch of a cable network in American history.

Winfrey, now 58, had perfected the daytime talk format while turning her syndicated show into a global brand. She would be joining forces with one of the savviest media companies in cable television, the deep-pocketed owner of stations such as TLC and Animal Planet.

But from the start, there were problems.

One former insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to a confidentiality agreement, said OWN’s seemingly can’t-miss prospects were dashed early by a “clash of cultures.” Winfrey loyalists and those not from Harpo were often at odds over basic strategy. This created an atmosphere of inertia and uncertainty.

“People can live with working with people they don’t like,” says the insider. “But this was just a lack of focus on what the channel should be.”

The initial brand positioning was clear: OWN would be the cable equivalent of Winfrey’s popular O Magazine. In fact, when Discovery chief executive David Zaslav first approached Winfrey with the concept, he was armed only with a persuasive smile and a copy of O.

So content would be aligned with her advice to viewers to “live their best lives.” What the network would not be, the insider stresses, “is the Church of Oprah, 24/7.” This idea is contrary to the prevailing criticism of OWN, which is that Oprah does not have enough of an onscreen presence.

The truth is, she was never supposed to.

There was another issue: some executives from Harpo, a production house that made millions from one syndicated show, had little to no experience running a cable network.

Lisa Erspamer, an executive producer with The Oprah Winfrey Show, relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago in 2009. She became OWN’s chief creative officer, a position Winfrey had mainly created for her star protégé. While Erspamer technically reported to chief executive Christina Norman — the former head of MTV Networks who was fired from OWN in May — the actual hierarchy was clear to everyone around the boardroom table.

Erspamer was a powerful figure inside Harpo. She mingled with A-list celebrities like Tom Hanks and masterminded some of Winfrey’s most memorable episodes, including the mass giveaway of Pontiacs in 2004.

But after joining OWN, according to another former employee, her devotion to Winfrey became a stumbling block for baffled co-workers.

“It was very cultlike,” says the former employee. “Lisa became the mouthpiece for Oprah. She would say, ‘Oprah wouldn’t like this’ or ‘Oprah wouldn’t do that.’ And it just became an arbitrary signal that you couldn’t do something. The way they operated was very, very different than the way you would typically run a network.”

Erspamer, who left the network earlier this year “by mutual agreement,” was forced to speak on Winfrey’s behalf because her boss was mostly MIA before OWN’s launch on Jan. 1, 2011. Winfrey was in lockdown mode, swamped with work as her show ended with epic fanfare in May.

“I think their (Discovery’s) expectations were she would be much more intimately involved with the network and she wasn’t,” says Steve Lanzano, president of TVB, the not-for-profit trade association of the U.S. commercial television industry.

“She’s a brand. But just because you brand a network, it does not mean your viewers are going to follow you if you are not there.”

For those who did follow, any sense of giddy reunion was quickly replaced by confusion. Instead of seeing Oprah, they were blitzed with a haze of insipid reality shows, old movies and half-baked service programs packaged between a few original series, including The Gayle King Show, Cristina’s Big Bowl of Love, Your OWN Show, Ask Oprah’s All-Stars and In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman.

“The problem is that people want to see Oprah,” says Libby Gill, a brand strategist and former television executive. “I think they overestimated the power of Oprah’s draw when she’s not the main attraction.”

So when Winfrey’s show ended in the spring, she was under severe pressure to pilot the ship out of choppy waters. Discovery is providing the investment funding for OWN, which is supposed to be repaid when the network turns a profit. But Discovery has already spent more than $310 million (U.S.), well in excess of its initial commitment of $189 million.

Winfrey, meanwhile, is gambling with something arguably more valuable than her money: she is doubling down on her reputation and jeopardizing her legacy.

“If I knew then what I know now, I might have made some different choices,” she told CBS in an interview this month. “I would say if I were writing a book about (OWN), I could call the book 101 Mistakes.”

Winfrey also said she never felt better about the future. This optimism is shared by OWN co-presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, and the top brass at Discovery.

But it only crystallized after the most difficult day of her career.

Oprah Winfrey has personally fired only one person in her life.

When it happened, she bawled more than the terminated employee. So on the morning of March 19, Winfrey delayed her arrival at OWN headquarters, where as of July she had served as chief executive.

Maybe she didn’t want to cry again.

Outside on Wilshire Blvd., it was business as usual in sunny Los Angeles. But inside OWN, months of executive turnover, financial hemorrhaging, content screw-ups and rating failures were about to give way to a cyclone that, according to sources, was first planned in December.

When the debris had settled, 20 per cent of the OWN workforce was gone.

“It was sombre,” says one former employee. “People were in shock.”

Winfrey appeared after an HR team informed the 30 affected workers of the layoffs. Flanked by Logan, who joined Harpo in 2008 and quickly became a trusted member of her inner circle, Winfrey convened a “town hall.”

As a source familiar with the meeting quips: “It was the first time she was not treated to spontaneous applause when entering a room full of employees.”

The first four rows remained empty as rattled staff sat near the back and Winfrey explained the need for cutbacks and restructuring. When the town hall ended, no questions were asked.

“That was a very hard day for the network,” says Logan. “When you lose 30 employees, that wasn’t easy. What I think made it a little more challenging for all of us is the fact that those employees deeply cared for the mission that we were on.”

The mission would now have new ground rules.

“They would spend so much money,” says a former employee. “It was just a lack of experience, to be honest with you. (Erspamer) had never run a network before or had to produce shows on a budget.”

One of the problems, says a source familiar with the current situation, is that previous management built a larger than necessary staff for a startup. More troubling, they did not tap into the “back end resources” at Discovery. The companies will now “share” several departments, including finance, human resources, business affairs, research and marketing.

Just three days before the layoffs, there was another high-profile firing: Rosie O’Donnell, whose eponymous talk show was once heralded as the network’s most promising gambit, was shown the door after five months of dismal ratings.

OWN took a massive publicity hit. But the network emerged on less perilous footing.

Between the layoffs and cancellation, Discovery slashed close to $50 million from OWN’s bloated cost structure. A couple of weeks later, the network signed a significant distribution deal with Comcast Corp., which puts OWN in about 4 million new U.S. homes, boosting total market penetration to about 85 million. Meanwhile, first-quarter ratings are up 21 per cent, from 149,000 to 180,000 total viewers.

“We are 1,000 per cent committed to this business,” says David C. Leavy, chief communications officer at Discovery, when told every analyst interviewed for this story offered a grim prognosis for OWN. “We are in it for the long haul. Any other comments are ill-informed. We are more committed and more bullish about the business that we are building today than we ever have been.

“If this thing is not to succeed,” he adds, “then one has to assume that Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications can’t find a hit or two a year to develop for this network. I like our chances.”

This is where the debate gets muddy.

Cable and broadcast television are very different beasts.

A hit show on cable will never have the same audience size as a hit show on broadcast for several reasons, including scale. But unlike broadcast, one hit show on cable can transform a network in the minds of viewers, advertisers and distributors.

Fox News was drifting aimlessly until The O’Reilly Factor came along. The same can be said for Comedy Central (The Daily Show), Bravo (Queer Eye For the Straight Guy), TLC (Trading Spaces) and even AMC (Mad Men).

As the cable universe expanded, another revelation dawned: to cut through the noise and clutter, to generate elusive buzz, shows were developed that wilfully paid no heed to overarching network brands.

“The shows that are most successful are probably shows that if you put a list together and said, ‘Match this show to the network,’ you probably would never match them together,” says Bill Carroll, the director of programming at Katz Television Group. “But these shows bring people into the tent.”

This puts OWN in a predicament.

It needs to create a breakout show that can compete at a time when programs such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore and Real Housewives get the most attention. But it must also remain faithful to Winfrey’s inspirational mandate.

As Brad Adgate, an analyst with Horizon Media, frames it: “Her brand is very uplifting, nurturing, making you feel good about yourself. Those are her shows. But there is no controversy.”

“I suppose one has to admire her integrity on this,” says Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “But I think she has a very specific sense of what she considers appropriate to put the Oprah Winfrey stamp of approval on. What OWN could desperately use right now is a Real Housewives franchise, a Jersey Shore franchise. Something that gets everyone talking.”

Leavy says the network will never produce down-market shows. Still, he believes there is room on cable for content that is both entertaining and enriching: “We do think there is creative white space there that is still untapped.”

But even if OWN develops a hit or two in the months ahead, there is one final issue: Does Oprah still matter?

“I’ve been studying television talk shows for a long time,” says Janice Peck, an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of The Age of Oprah: Cultural Icon for the Neoliberal Era.

“And I think one of the biggest things that is going on is that she cannot attract a young audience any more. This was happening even at the end of her show. Her numbers were declining. Her viewers were falling away. And where she was getting hit badly was actually in the younger age ranges.”

During the 1991-92 season, The Oprah Winfrey Show averaged 12.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen. By 2008-2009, that number had plunged by more than half, to 6.2 million.

During this decline, Peck believes Winfrey also alienated parts of her audience by embracing New Age spirituality and endorsing Barack Obama, effectively plunging her into religion and politics during a time of financial upheaval.

“Her message resonated at a particular time,” says Peck. “I don’t think that it has purchase now. It’s like her historical moment has passed. And I don’t think this can be set right.”

If she’s right, there is an irony at play.

As the queen of television, Winfrey has been something of a kingmaker over the years. She’s turned relatively unknown personalities into household names, a list that includes Dr. Phil McGraw, Suze Orman, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Rachael Ray.

Winfrey also revolutionized talk TV, blazing the way for celebrities like O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres, to say nothing of the multi-chair gabfests that are now scattered across daytime schedules.

All of her past achievements now stand in the uncertain shadow of OWN.

“What she has said is that building this thing is going to be one of the great challenges of her career,” says Logan. “She’s looking forward to it.”

And so on Monday, when she greets her rapturous fans in Toronto, the story of OWN will be the invisible backdrop. She will lead another Lifeclass for viewers around the globe even as she continues to absorb hard lessons.

Oprah Winfrey has saved many careers and reputations over the years. Now she has to save her own.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: April 17, 2012 11:34PM

An article in a mainstream newspaper which points out that self-help/new age gurus will fill the air with words which don't necessarily add up to anything meaningful.

But people who are addicted to this stuff probably won't care because they crave their fix.


Oprah Winfrey’s ‘master teachers’ have much to learn from her

By Vinay Menon
Entertainment Reporter
Apr 16, 2012

The theme of Oprah Winfrey’s first Canadian broadcast was “gratitude.”

This seemed appropriate, amid a sea of floral blouses and sensible pantsuits, deep inside the bowels of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where more than 8,500 Opraholics lavished their visiting leader with love, adoration and unrelenting gratitude.

Joined by four “master teachers” — spiritualist Deepak Chopra, preacher Bishop T.D. Jakes, author Iyanla Vanzant and life strategist Tony Robbins — Winfrey could have read aloud from the backs of cereal boxes.

The crowd would have still roared.

Lifeclass: The Tour is a traveling TV show on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, the struggling cable station Winfrey is now tasked with fixing. With previous stops in St. Louis, Mo., and New York, the goal is to create a “global classroom” in which viewers become students and Winfrey’s “life lessons” serve as inspiration between the commercial breaks.

So, starting around 9 a.m., the lectures began.

First up was Chopra, a man so utterly cosmic one wonders if he seeks spiritual guidance before buying laundry detergent. He said things like “God is the mystery of the universe” and “Your mind does not exist by itself.” There were Venn diagrams about perception and awareness. There was a reverential hush.

What there was not, unfortunately, was a clear idea of what he was talking about.

Next up: Vanzant, a dynamic public speaker, New York Times bestselling author and someone you probably don’t want to annoy in public. She spoke about “learning how to tell the truth” and encouraged everyone to “tell the truth to yourself about yourself.”

Reaction to this tautological wisdom ranged from bursts of wild applause to bursts of wild laughter to bursts of wild applause and laughter from the mostly female audience. (There were a few males scattered across the adjoined halls. Some of them were Oprah fans. Others sat in conference chairs with grimacing smiles.)

Jakes was next.

His lecture, unofficially titled “learn stuff from bad things,” ended with an extended avian metaphor about why it’s important to be more like eagles (they can make love in the air) and less like chickens (they eat their own excrement and can’t fly).

His message was a bit clearer, especially if you were a bird.

What was really clear is that Robbins, a fellow some may recall from ’80s infomercials, is like catnip to many women of a certain age. With the jaw-line of a superhero and the disarming smile of a used car salesman, he dazzled the audience with his high-octane, rapid-fire delivery and stories about personal empowerment.

“Change is automatic, progress is not,” he barked into a microphone that was clipped over his left ear. “Change your story, change your life!”

All of this was the warm-up to the actual show, which was taped for future broadcast and started with Winfrey striding onstage in a blood-orange dress while shouting some gratitude of her own: “So glad you are here with me!”

A second show, this one live, also aired Monday night.

The genius of the self-help industry is that it’s immune to empirical testing. It’s easy to get swept up in the just-change-your-life admonitions — at times, the show felt more like a raucous church sermon than a classroom lesson — while forgetting that life is infinitely more complicated than the master teachers would have you believe.

During the first show, a couple of people in the audience talked about their own personal tragedies. The teachers — especially Vanzant — were borderline glib in response. Instead of showing any real empathy, the teachers encouraged these people to just change the narrative or change the way they see themselves.

And as this happened, something else became clear: Winfrey remains in a class of her own when it comes to this type of television. The connection she instantly forged with the audience was something none of the master teachers could ever hope to achieve over a month of on-air work, let alone a quarter century at the top.

This was the biggest lesson from Lifeclass: OWN is Oprah. Oprah is OWN. If this thing is to succeed, she may need to clone herself.

Winfrey may not have all the answers. But she asks the right questions. Unlike the master teachers, she knows not everyone will find the promised land of happiness and self-actualization.

But she also knows it’s out there and wants to help you find the way.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: April 17, 2012 11:57PM

Another take on the Oprah and friends Lifeclass in Toronto.

The following paragraph about "the Oprah effect" is interesting.

Many women said they felt stronger, more sure of themselves, because of Oprah. They reflected more. They bettered themselves. They wrote in their gratitude journals. Most had trouble explaining exactly how they improved their lives or those of others around them, but were sure they had.

It's scary that one of the attendees wasn't bothered by the fact that she didn't understand what Tony Robbins said, but was okay with that because of "his energy." I've always felt repulsed by his manic energy and wouldn't attend anything he was connected with -- even if it was free.

After Robbins put the “motion in emotion,” Karen Sutton tried to make sense of the scene. “I don’t really understand what he’s saying,” she said between speakers. “But I really like his energy.”

The full article can be found at:


Oprah Winfrey’s Lifeclass tour draws thousands to Toronto shows

Liam Casey Staff Reporter

Women came. Women sobbed. Women conquered.

Thousands of women came to worship at the pulpit of Oprah as her Lifeclass tour came to Toronto on Monday. More than 8,500 came to see the former talk-show goddess, most of them women. They wore their brightly coloured Sunday best, on advice from Oprah herself.

“Oprah makes me feel empowered,” said Leslie Booker, who had a quiet drive in from Brampton to be first in line at 3 a.m. Her friend Terri Helesic said the same thing, as did scores of others.

Many women said they felt stronger, more sure of themselves, because of Oprah. They reflected more. They bettered themselves. They wrote in their gratitude journals. Most had trouble explaining exactly how they improved their lives or those of others around them, but were sure they had.

But Cathy Heffernan, who drove in from Sudbury, turned an “aha” moment into action. Eight years ago, she recalled, Oprah had a show detailing the plight of African children. Heffernan doesn’t remember the details, but it inspired her to volunteer for World Vision. Now she’s rebuilding a school in Kenya.

“She taught me to do something positive for humankind,” Heffernan said “And we also do a lot of work with pet rescues.”

Cindy Sandel used what she learned from Oprah to stand up to the media magnate. She paid $300 for her seat, but by the time she got down to the basement of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, with most of the room first come, first served, the expensive seats were taken. So she was shunted to the back of the room with the rest of the plebeians.

“Oprah told us to stand up for what we believe in,” Sandel said. “So my sister stood for two hours to get this fixed and we ended up in the seats we paid for.”

Oprah was joined by Lifeclass teachers Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Iyanla Vanzant, who spoke before the main event. All discussed variations of self improvement.

Some thoughts were straightforward.

“Angry people have tight sphincters and constipation,” Chopra said to the crowd.

Others were more abstract.

“Chickens can’t fly because they eat the worst stuff,” said T.D. Jakes. “You think they eat corn, but they don’t . . . they eat rocks and, um, their feces. It’s gross.”

“Don’t be a chicken, be an eagle,” T.D. Jakes.

The crowd cheered and hollered. By the time Robbins was on stage, the ageless motivational speaker had people clapping their hands, jumping up and down and yelling “Yes!”

After Robbins put the “motion in emotion,” Karen Sutton tried to make sense of the scene.

“I don’t really understand what he’s saying,” she said between speakers. “But I really like his energy.”

Near the end of the first show, Oprah greeted her followers throughout the cavernous conference room. But the crowd swarmed her, as security had difficulty fighting off the throng.

One woman yelled “This is my dream!” as she reached out and touched Oprah, who became agitated as she tried to make her way back to the stage, a procession that took about 20 minutes.

But most left charged, empowered and confident.

And an hour later, another 8,500 would churn through the turnstiles to worship at the Church of Oprah.

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