• Matthew Remski: Yoga, Writing & Inquiry

heart-centred skepticism

Yoga, Writing & Inquiry

We’ve all heard the cliché: “yoga means union”.
It can ring hollow when we learn that spirituality, like the unconscious, can be a broken space:

We can think we’re practicing to heal our wounds, even as we deepen them.

We can love teachers and methods that might be toxic to us.

We can easily confuse the sensations of transcendence and trauma.

We can feel like we’re loving people and saving the world while we’re really retrenching privileges of race, gender, and class, as well as ignoring the destruction that surrounds us.

The “union” I focus on in my practice, writing and training uses heart-centred skepticism to see these splits more clearly, so that they can be mended, with whatever it takes.

The “whatever it takes” part often means seeking both beyond my own limited resources and the conventional/patriarchal yoga literature to the writers and activists of marginalized groups, who are doing the most profound spiritual work today. I hope to support them and continue learning from them in my work.

Yoga’s Culture of Sexual Abuse: Nine Women Tell Their Stories

As the #MeToo movement hits the yoga scene, women are coming forward on social media, forcing crucial questions into the spotlight that the entire industry must now confront: Is the yoga studio consistently the healing space it is advertised to be? Or has it engendered a culture in which spiritual surrender can be conflated with physical submission? Above all, practitioners must now ask how a culture with such a robust history of abuse has also been marketed as a path to bodily autonomy, spiritual awakening, and a cure-all for both mental and physical ailments.

Karen Rain Speaks About Pattabhi Jois and Recovering from Sexual and Spiritual Abuse – Video Interview

This past March I had the honour of finally meeting Karen Rain in person, after two years of interviews, emails, and phone calls about her experience with Pattabhi Jois. We decided to do this interview as a summation of what we’d explored so far. In the interview, we cover the challenges of remembering trauma, of bearing witness to that remembering, and the struggle to break silence. Karen gives answers to the victim-blaming responses that have been thrown at her and others. She opens up a larger discussion about the connections between asana performance and the stress response of an abusive space. She discloses some of her post-Mysore PTSD symptoms, and speaks transparently about her former complicity in Ashtanga community dynamics.

WAWADIA – What Are We Actually Doing in Asana?

What Are We Actually Doing in Asana? is a sweeping inquiry into the sensations, meanings, and purposes of yoga practice today, from the ascetic to the aesthetic to the therapeutic, and from the personal, to the social, to the political. It will mine testimony of desire, pain, injury and healing to discover how modern practitioners work to experience and embody their developmental ideals.

Read the prospectus »

Watch WAWADIA: Injury, Touch, Abuse & Trauma in Modern Yoga »

Naada Yoga’s online education program presents

A Year of Ayurveda with Matthew Remski

Ayurveda offers an ancient language to help you become a poet of your internal experience. Its holistic practices of mindful, sensual awareness offer resilience against the inevitable changes of season, place, work, and identity. In this online education program, you’ll receive lifetime access to over 23 hrs of video instruction, downloadable pdfs and illustrations, 6 CEU’s recognized by the North American Yoga Alliance, and more.

Find out more »

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