Oops, I did it again. I’m having flashbacks to a couple of years ago when I expressed my opinion of a popular fitness ‘method’ on Twitter. It roused fiery criticism similar to what I’ve seen regarding my recent Facebook post. I commented on one of the latest trends to hit the yoga world called ButiYoga. Based on a 30 second sizzle real that depicted little more than LuLu Lemon sporting, bare midriff exposing, young, fit and Caucasian ladies gyrating and bouncing their hips I concluded that, while cute, it bared little semblance to what I have come to know as yoga over the past 17 years of practice and teaching. Cue the onslaught of criticisms and condemnations from the Buti world. In no uncertain terms, I was tagged as judgmental, insecure and hypocritical (since I myself can be seen on many DVD covers baring my midriff and ‘Sweating Sexy.’) I was told my chakras needed aligning and that I’m not yogic. While I refuse to engage in quick to fire, insidious battles on Facebook, I am happy to write non-reactive, contemplative and judicious blogs to lend my voice to thoughtful debate and meaningful discourse away from social media. This is what follows.
Please do not confuse my opinion of ButiYoga with judgment. I judge none of you for your practice or what joy, peace and freedom you find from Buti. Nor did I write any disparaging remarks about you, or ButiYoga’s creator, Bizzie Gold, personally. I expressed my beliefs merely out of a frustration with the proliferation of fad throughout both the fitness and yoga industries and the commoditization of an ancient tradition that no one can patent or brand. Bikram tried. It didn’t work. So did John Friend. His ‘system’ collapsed as it depended on a leader whose ego overshadowed the teachings. From my point of view, yoga – as it is outlined in scriptures such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhaghavad Gita – is a systematic approach to personal and spiritual freedom and fulfillment. Out of 196 Sutras, only three discuss any physical practice as a means to achieve these.
I am not saying yoga defined by spiritual texts is the only way, or even the best way for people to find fulfillment and joy in their lives. My true fear is that as we slap the word ‘yoga’ on every new system, program, regime and concept developed by someone with some insight and creativity, we lose the ancient wisdom and teachings that only can be translated and transmitted from teacher to student. As these new ‘methods’ become more and more popular, less and less seem of us to be interested in a system that needs no improvement, but does demand a lifetime of study, dedication and commitment to personal practice. Proven methodologies and tools that can only be learned from masters of a tradition – not a book or a 200-hour teacher training. Ones that were not made up on some yoga mat or dance floor, but ‘seen’ by sages and swamis dedicated to the practice of spiritual enlightenment and freedom from the confines of the material world. By no means am I suggesting we need to hide out in caves and become renunciates to progress on our spiritual path. But we can – and should – learn from the wisdom of others who selflessly commit their lives to understanding the truth of Divinity and graciously share their understanding with others. Connection to a living lineage imbues one’s practice with grace and protection. There is a reason yoga, despite the Western’s worlds attempt to minimize and morph it to a physical workout or a new age spiritual tool, has lasted for thousands of years. Yes, the teachings may be ancient, but they are also timeless. Because Truth is timeless and needs no improving. Truth trumps trend. Always.
I’m curious to see if people will be practicing ButiYoga 1,000 years from now. Hell, I would like to see if people are still practicing 20 years from now. Tradition requires the test of time to be considered valid by a majority. If Buti lives on past the life of its creator, I will happily eat my words. I’m banking I’ll still be alive to see it fizzle.
I am also of the strong belief that a 200-hour training is simply not enough to send qualified yoga instructors out into the world. I’ll be the first to say, I shouldn’t have been teaching yoga as early as I was. I had no clue what I didn’t know. We don’t let lawyers or doctors loose after a few hundred hours of training. Maybe once we view yoga as the powerful and radical life-changing tool it is and not the exercise du jour, we’ll consider bumping up the requirements.
I do not believe yoga cannot evolve. With regards to the safety of asana, I am a firm believer that yoga should take some cues from the intelligent movement and physical therapy realm to create a more stable and strong practice. Namely because yoga was not created to help the physical body thrive. Thousands of years ago, the gentleman practicing asana were not really learned in the musculoskeletal system or how to stabilize joints. It’s one of the reasons we see a proliferation of students being hurt by current yoga classes. Yoga’s power and purpose reside in creating monumental shifts in the mind. Asana can be a tool, but those who created asana were not body masters – they were mind masters.
I’d also like to speak to the professed ‘kundalini awakenings’ women are claiming to have in class. This exemplifies the simplification of the spiritual teachings and the widespread misunderstanding of kundalini shakti that makes me cringe every time I see someone selling it. Rarely does a true kundalini awakening happen from some hip swivels, banging on the pelvic floor and contraction of the anus. That’s called aggrevation. True kundalini awakening requires a systematic and methodical approach – one best provided through the guidance of a learned and wise teacher who has dedicated his or her life to the teachings and can help their student properly channel awakened energy through the pathway of the spine. (Also known as sushumna.) While I will not deny many women may have likely had a sensual, profound and overwhelming energetic experience from ButiYoga, I would argue kundalini awakening is being confused with kundalini disturbance. My teacher once said something brilliant (he says a lot of brilliant things) – It’s not that She (kundalini shakti) is asleep – She’s already awake. She’s just waiting for you to become fit enough for her to reveal herself. And he didn’t mean physically fit.
On that note, many suggested that I am not supporting women or their empowerment and the rise of the Divine Feminine. Believe me, I hear you sisters. Loud and clear. Much of the turmoil and fear that currently exists in our country, and the world, is due to a blatant disregard of the Divine Feminine and her inherent beauty and power. Preach. However, let us not refuse our male counterparts in this awakening for She is not only found in women, but in men alike. She is the force and energy that gives and sustains all life. She is pervasive and all inclusive. We are adding fuel on a raging fire if we neglect to spread this message to a male audience. If you are interested in having a deep and meaningful understanding and connection to the Divine Feminine, I would guide you to someone like Sally Kempton or Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and their work. Both have dedicated their lives to the teachings of Yoga, Tantra and the brilliance and beauty of Her.
Moving on. When I asked what students of ButiYoga are doing #offthemat, I did not mean to insinuate that the women who attend and teach this class are shallow or only concerned with the shape of their bodies or appearance. Clearly many of you are empowered and thriving young women with a strong voice positively contributing to society. I was simply asking what kind of spiritual tools you possess and utilize outside of class? Meditation? Kriyas? Pranayama? Is there a dedicated personal practice outside of the group dynamic? Again, it is easy to fall into a disagreement based on differing ideas and definitions of yoga, so I’ll end it there.
I have studied and worked in the fitness, dance and yoga communities for twenty years. I’ve personally experienced how each discipline can enhance and support each other. There are principles of yoga I apply to fitness and dance, such as the breath, and vice versa. However, they all serve different functions. Fitness keeps my physical body strong and prepared for all life throws my way – whether that be a dance class or a hike or to sit comfortably in meditation for an extended period of time. Dance is my outlet for creative – and yes, at times, sexual, expression. Free movement and dance helps me communicate in a way I often find difficult with words. And yes, at times, it certainly connects me to a Divine experience. Yoga has made me a happier, stronger and more confident woman. Yoga has given me peace and clarity. Yoga has single handily changed my perspective of the world. Yoga guides every moment of every day of my life. But my fitness is fitness and my yoga is yoga. The two have very different aims. According to the Mundaka Upanishad – Brahman is the target, Atma is the arrow and Aum is the bow. In other words, the sound of the all-pervading truth of creation (also known as pranava) is the means by which the self unites with the Divine. Not moving the body.
As for Bizzie – I’ve done as you all suggested and watched some of her videos. I really like her and love her message – especially the part about cultivating a coaching or teacher-student relationship sans co-dependence. The self help world needs more of that. I resonate with much of what she advocates. As a mother, an entrepreneur and woman, I respect the hell out of her. She’s beautiful and sassy. I bet I’d like her a lot. However, and I think this is the crux of where the misunderstanding lies, her message is directed at a very different audience than mine. I’ll estimate the median age of those who commented on my feed is 32. Her website states it loud and clear – she is the voice of a Millenial generation. Out of the many labels you can slap on me, Millenial is not one of them. Bizzie speaks to a population I don’t relate to. An age group that writes paragraphs and novels on Facebook and converses in emojis and acronyms. One that is used to the immediacy of texting and constant communication. A population that relies on the interaction social media offers and uses it as a huge platform to congregate and unite. For me, it’s just not that deep. While I use social media for marketing and creating a brand and a voice, I tend not to put a lot of stock in its activity. Even my own comments. I guess that makes me officially old.
All this being said, I’d be happy to take a Buti class. Hell, I may even enjoy it and have some sort of transcendent experience. But I’m pretty sure I will still walk out of the room reluctant to call it yoga.
I feel no need to respond to all the personal criticisms hurled at me. Fire away. I’ve had my own path, and just like Bizzie has said of her life, my own struggles and demons to overcome. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and have the utmost faith and trust in my work and what I teach. We all may be a little guilty of hurling karmic arrows.
I do not apologize for my opinion, but I do apologize if anyone feels personally offended by it. I still am hopeful that after the dust has settled we can all look at each other with love and a smile and agree to disagree. Even better, I’d welcome a public discussion with Bizzie and maybe we can help our individual generations understand each other with a little more compassion.
I hope some of what I have written addresses the reason for my FB comment and appropriately responds to some of your reactions. At the end of the day, I consent with one observation on that thread – it’s all yoga. Every disagreement, every opinion – every moment of every day. If we are willing to look at each and every circumstance in our life as an opportunity to grow and find more peace, joy and contentment in our own hearts, then we are living life on the path of yoga.
October 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm
Just because you said it in a nice and spiritual manner does not mean that you are being a nice person. There is absolutely no reason to discredit someone else’s practice much as it would be crazy to discredit yours. I think you still have a lot to learn especially if you feel the need to discredit and talk badly about someone else’s life work because thats exactly what you are doing. I hope you find the peace you so badly crave
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October 10, 2016 at 11:31 pm
Definitely interesting read. Great points! As you stated… We are ALL entitled to our opinion and obviously as we put them out there, we open thr door to various feedback. Unfortunately not everyone comes from a place of wanting to discuss instead of trying to put someone down. Which is a big part of Buti yoga. Empowering others, it is a female empowerment type of yoga that is accredited by yoga alliance. Its is filled with people who just want to help each other succeed and remind each other that we are all on the same team. You should check it out! Also, maybe instead of putting that negative energy out that you feel it wont surpass it’s creator. Maybe try to just respect it for what it is and realize that we as people should really try to be positive for each other and lift each other up. Oh and since you mentioned thr types of people doing Buti… I am a black woman and there are Buti boys! Thr tribe is growing & you are always welcome to join us!!
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October 10, 2016 at 11:44 pm
Definitely interesting read, great points! As you stated… We are ALL entitled to our opinion and obviously when we put them out there, we open the door to various feedback. Unfortunately not everyone comes from a place of wanting to discuss instead of trying to put someone down. Which is a big part of Buti yoga. Empowering others, it is a female empowerment form of yoga that is accredited by yoga alliance. It is filled with people whom want to help each other succeed and remind each other that we re all on the same team. You should really check it out and talk to some ladies! Also, instead of putting that negative energy out that you feel it won’t surpass it’s creator… Maybe try to respect it for what it is and realize that we as people should really try to be positive for each other and lift each other up. Oh and since you mentioned the types of people doing Buti, I am a black woman and there are Buti boys! The tribe is growing and you are ALWAYS welcome to join us! One tribe.. One love! *typos courtesy of autocorrect!*
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October 11, 2016 at 3:17 am
Hi YoginiKiKi! Thank you for your objective response. I wish they put you and some men in that video promoting it!!!
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October 11, 2016 at 2:19 am
So, you haven’t even tried it? And you feel qualified to write an article criticizing it? Why did I waste my time reading this? I’m nearly thirty-seven and have been studying yoga for 16 years. I got trained to teach BUTI last weekend and I love the message, the philosophy and everything else about it. Maybe you should take a class and keep your uninformed opinions to yourself until then?
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October 11, 2016 at 10:42 am
I am 48…..and love Buti!! Jus saying…..
October 11, 2016 at 3:15 pm
YEAH!!! I love that you responded and spoke up. I wish I saw more women like you in the video promoting it! Keep practicing! JG
October 11, 2016 at 11:11 am
Valid points and respect your opinion. However, the entire article is invalid if the writer has not tried a class.
If I understand your perspective regarding future generations, and find that overall, writing this response to a “millennial social media” post that “lacks depth” in blog format does not make the writer seem wiser or “more yogic,” but rather old in the mind. Getting older is inevitable, but AGING is optional.
As a cusp Gen X-Millenial, I broke away from the old school 9-5 till we die limiting system and opened a yoga studio, ushering countless 50+ (up to 70 years old) into traditional yoga with the BUTI practice being the first class in a version of yoga ever.
Not to mention, BUTI was introduced to my studio by a 50 yo + fabulous Certfied BUTI Instructor.
In the end, the filters through which you are seeing is distorted (that’s OK we all are) and it will probably be EVOLVED in 20 years bc Bizzie and BUTI energy is timeless. “Kundalini disturbance” is actually what I’m feeling from putting down the entire generation that yours has RAISED.
Sat nam + a-ho yogi
October 11, 2016 at 2:05 pm
This was actually a great read. Thank you for the thoughtful response to whatever Facebook nonsense that I apparently missed completely. Honestly I get very frustrated with how often people criticize Buti Yoga for not being “real” yoga because it is a very meaningful practice for me personally, it gave me interest in practicing and studying all yoga more seriously, and the values and behaviors I’ve embraced as a result have sincerely affected my life off of the mat in the ways I interact with the world around me. You are, in this post, incredibly respectful in sharing your opinion whereas other criticisms have ranged from childish mocking to overly snarky trolling (both very un-yogic in my humble opinion). That being said, I am extremely disappointed in some of the responses I’m seeing here, as well as on social media, from fellow Buti Yoga enthusiasts. Some of the comments are absolutely radiating with angry offensiveness and snarky disrespect. My fellow Buti sisters, it is entirely possible to RESPECTFULLY disagree with others, and we MUST choose this approach if we intend that the world respect Buti as a meaningful practice. Angry, attacking attitudes serve only to completely reinforce the opinions that Buti is not “real” yoga. Please keep this in mind when you stand up for our practice.
Jennifer, I sincerely hope you give Buti a try! It’s a wonderful experience and you would be very welcome to join our practice!!
October 11, 2016 at 2:16 pm
This was actually a great read. Thank you for the thoughtful response to whatever Facebook nonsense that I apparently missed completely. Honestly I get very frustrated with how often people criticize Buti Yoga for not being “real” yoga because it is a very meaningful practice for me personally, it gave me interest in practicing and studying all yoga more seriously, and the values and behaviors I’ve embraced as a result have sincerely affected my life off of the mat in the ways I interact with the world around me. You are, in this post, incredibly respectful in sharing your opinion while other criticisms have ranged from childish mocking to overly snarky trolling (both very un-yogic in my humble opinion). That being said, I am extremely disappointed in some of the responses I’m seeing here, as well as on social media, from fellow Buti Yoga enthusiasts. Some of the comments are absolutely radiating with angry offensiveness and snarky disrespect. My fellow Buti sisters, it is entirely possible to RESPECTFULLY disagree with others, and we MUST choose this approach if we intend that the world see our practice as a meaningful practice. Angry, attacking attitudes serve only to completely reinforce the opinions that Buti is not “real” yoga. Please keep this in mind when you stand up for our practice.
Jennifer, I sincerely hope you give Buti Yoga a try! It’s a great experience and you are more than welcome to join our practice!!
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October 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm
Sarah – Thank you so much for your thoughtful and respectful discourse. I am so happy ButiYoga opened a door for you which you seem to have walked through with grace and strength. You are a shining example of what many have claimed about the practice. I hope you become a leading voice in the ButiYoga movement. I look forward to heading to a city where Buti is offered as I will be the first in line! 🙂
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October 11, 2016 at 10:00 pm
IF YOU HAVEN’T READ “PRANAYAMA: THE BREATHE OF YOGA” BY MAEHLE THEN GO ONLINE TO AMAZON AND READ PAGE 5 FOR FREE LOOK INSIDE BOOK. I THINK WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS SO WELL SAID IN THIS BOOK. IT SEEMS TO MAKE THE POINT!
HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON,
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October 12, 2016 at 3:48 am
Read it. LOVED it. YES. May even buy the book. Excellent description of my point. “I have learned in India that it is very important for yoga teachers to quote from scripture. It is a way of keeping the teacher humble. She is not saying ‘I think this and therefore it’s right,’ or ‘I am saying this and because of that you do it’, but says ‘Those great ones who went before me said . . . ‘ ‘Those giants on whose shoulders I am standing and without whom I wouldn’t be here today said . . . ‘ BRILLIANT!
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October 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm
I really appreciate this criticism, for I find it deeply constructive. I love ButiYoga, but just like Sarah said, I cannot agree with the way that some of the Buti Sisters are responding to feedback, especially when the feedback is clearly well constructed and educated. We don’t need yoga crusades to prove a point, we need to continue our growth and support others as they develop their own. Time will take care of the rest, some practices will transcend and others will not, only then will we know.
Jennifer, you should certainly give Buti a try. You will have fun, and you will also have questions and that is ok; hopefully we also get to hear those questions that arise during your practice and use them for our growth as Buti practitioners.
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October 13, 2016 at 3:12 pm
Gabbacia – Thank you for your thoughtful note above. I’m so glad you read my words with an open mind and heart. Your own points are well made.
It seems your comment was meant to be. I went to your site and noticed you are part of the Movement Lab community. Another of your Buti sisters recommended I go there to try a class as I will be visiting the SanDiego area later this month. I am certainly going to try and come! Do you teach a class?
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October 14, 2016 at 5:00 am
Nothing is coincidence. When will you be here? I would love to have you in my class! I do what I call the #ButiSunrise, which is at 6am Mondays and Wednesdays. If you are not an early bird, though, there are other options at the studio and any of us would be happy to have you in class and open up to a larger conversation. I really looking forward to meeting you while you are in town so please keep me posted even if you can’t make it to the studio. Thank you again! Feel free to contact me directly via gabaccia(at)themovementlab.org 🙂
November 2, 2016 at 5:29 am
what’s buti yoga?
December 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I came across your blog when I googled “Is buti yoga an actual form of yoga?” bc an ad came up in my fb for it. Having a Kundalini teaching certificate (which I don’t use, it was just for personal practice deepening), I thought I was familiar with the main forms of yoga, so I was surprised to see a new one. Of course it’s not real, just a branded concept.
I too find it disturbing that exercise practices are called new types of yoga, when they are not at all about the unity the name implies. They are meant solely for working out, whereas traditional yoga merely utilizes exercises to get you into a better mental space for meditation. It feels blasphemous to me as well, and I am just an American Kundailini yogi; I can’t imagine how wrong it seems to Easterners. Your blog, to me, did not read as judgmental at all, and I’m sorry for the backlash you’ve received overall. I agree with you implicitly.
December 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm
Thank you for reading, Ariane, and your comments above. I’m glad you have a practice that supports you as you move along your journey. Many blessings for a wonderful 2017.
December 15, 2017 at 5:49 am
Yoga, like the words organic and natural have become marketing tags to deceive the masses. Nothing wrong with creating a new fitness fad, but keep the word yoga out of it. The West always takes from the essence of Eastern wisdom and devolve’s it to the most materialistic……….then bills people for it. True yoga is not being taught here in America and if it was, very, very few would have any interest in it. Why? Because the ego fears the prospect of becoming nothing……..fears the death of it’s self created illusion. The word Yoga has become a fashion statement here in America and so the word is now losing credibility, as is the word Spiritual. What is out beyond Yoga and Spirituality? No more posing.
July 26, 2018 at 11:17 pm
I am a millennial and new to yoga. I have seen a lot of classes with the word “yoga” in them that aren’t yoga. Such as hiit yoga, Buti Yoga, yoga fusion etc. While I don’t know that much about yoga it always makes me feel uncomfortable when people use yoga in the name of their classes when it isn’t yoga. I feel like that was the point of your message and if that’s so then I agree 100%. However it did seem like you were attacking millennials and these other people which kind of distracted me from your true mission here. You have a lot of wisdom and I looked this up bc my gut was telling me that calling things “yoga” that aren’t is disrespectful to the practice which I do believe is sacred. I appreciate your opinions but was turned off by your hatefulness towards my generation and new age practices. I think your words would be better received if you stayed clear on your mission. But That being said I agree with you and am glad I read this. ❤️
July 27, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Hi Carrie. Thank you so much for your comment and feedback. Your respectful discourse is something often missing in these public forums. I apologize if my words seemed hateful to your generation. I think when I wrote this piece, I felt annoyed at the era of ‘quick fix’ we seem to live in – my generation included. Everyone seems to want things instantaneously and I feel like our current culture lacks true depth. Life is messy and long and we miss the beautiful opportunity that a life dedicated to learning and evolving offers if we are constantly jumping from fad to fad. That being said, you seem like an old soul through your well articulated words and opinion. I’m glad you took what you needed from my post and tossed the rest. Much love to you.
January 7, 2021 at 3:36 pm
In everything we do, we must meet people where they are.
For example, that’s why there are so many different types of therapies in the world, and so many different practitioners offering their services.
Some of these practitioners may have very little life experience while others have a ton, and many are somewhere in the middle…however regardless, they are each important and valuable.
And the clients they can serve the best will be attracted to them.
It’s not for me or anyone to say what therapies are valid or not. Live and let live.
As a Reiki practitioner it is clear to me that I am not a good fit for everyone, or meant to serve all.
In the energy work field there are a multitude of trainings, some online, in person, those that are in depth and others that barely scratch the surface…and while in the beginning I used to find judgment in the perceived lack of quality from some of the programs, and for those operating from a place that didn’t feel clear, however in the end I released it, realizing it’s all good…and it all has its place.
It became clear to me that what I was really upset about was not external, but internal…my personal feelings of inadequacy, and therefore I was judging.
Similarly, when it comes to yoga not everyone is ready or even looking for yoga in a traditional sense, but maybe they start something like Buti and it calls them in deeper.
Buti as a gateway…how cool is that?
Or maybe someone finds Buti, and that is where they stay because they love it, how cool is that?
There are many paths and there are no right or wrongs.
I’m thankful for every kind of yoga inspired class and it’s a joy to experience new styles and teachers…everyone has something to offer and we can learn a lot by opening up to new things and not getting stuck in rigidity.
Buti is something fun I do that connects me to rhythm and dancing, while I’m doing it I have a huge smile plastered across my face and I’m connected to joy. What a gift to find practices in life that we enjoy. Practices that allow for presence, mindfulness, celebration and movement.
Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective Jennifer, and all who read this.
With Love and Respect,
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January 7, 2021 at 5:00 pm
OMG Sharla! I completely forgot about this post! Thank you for your thoughtful response. This was definitely written in my ‘Yoga Snob’ phase. 😉 I’m so glad you are enjoying movement and smiling the whole way through. Awesome and appreciate the time you took to write what you did. I still feel the same way about some of the things I wrote, however, I am in 100% agreement with you, too! Everyone needs to do what makes them HAPPY! Good on you. Much love.
February 27, 2021 at 2:44 pm
A very shallow, self-serving perspective.