Over the last couple of days, I have been following the many reactions to the the VF Jois Yoga article. One of the first things that struck me was that there was something in the title of the article about "Yoga for Trophy Wives"... Maybe it's just me, but isn't referring to a woman as a "trophy wife" (or trophy anything) supposed to be an insult, an act of objectifying the woman in question? I wonder what Sonia Jones thinks of this dubious title? In any case, what qualifications must one have in order to be a trophy wife--as opposed to being, say, a mere wallflower? Also, why aren't there trophy husbands? I'm guessing that there must be some men out there who are outraged at not having being awarded the honorable title of "Trophy Husband"...
Anyway, enough of these neither-here-nor-there thoughts. Among the many responses to the VF article that I have read, I found Grimmly's response to it to be quite well-taken. In a comment on a recent post, Grimmly writes of Sonia Jones:
"I dunno, she has a nice Dwi pada sirsasana. What would you do with access to all that money and a passion for and belief in Ashtanga. of course she's going to want to build beautiful shalas and design her own range of yoga clothing for fun, clearly it's not to make money. Personally she might have looked at, say, curing India of polio but the Bill Gates just did that... As for Encinitas, of course you'd want to put a studio up there as that's where it kind of started in the US no? So i kind of understand it or am prepared to try and hope there was nothing malicious in it....just clumsy."
I think Grimmly displays an admirable level of compassion for Sonia Jones, portraying her as somebody who has a lot of passion for something (Ashtanga), and who decides to use the resources at her disposal to further this passion and contribute to the Ashtanga community in her own well-intentioned, albeit somewhat "clumsy" way.
As I was mulling over Grimmly's remarks, it suddenly occurred to me that Sonia Jones may be living what I call the yoga bum lifestyle. Over the past year or so, I have blogged here and there about my yoga bum dream: The general idea is that if money were not an issue, I would simply travel all over the world and practice and study yoga with whomever I please (see, for instance, this post). Perhaps Jones is already living her own version of this dream, although I highly doubt she would refer to herself by the unflattering title of "yoga bum" (or maybe, since she's female, it would have to be "yoga bumette"?). But in any case, whatever term she chooses to use to refer to her lifestyle, it is clearly what I would call a yoga bum lifestyle: Money is not an issue, and she is free to do whatever she wants in pursuit of her passion for Ashtanga. Which is precisely the state that I aspire to. In this respect, I would say: More power to you, Sonia!
Of course, as Grimmly notes, there may be a certain moral flat-footedness in the way she chooses to go about fulfilling her passion: Opening a studio in Encinitas right down the street from Tim Miller's studio may not be the most morally sensitive thing to do, all things considered. A lot has already been said about this action of hers (and the possible motives behind it), so I won't waste too much of your time flogging what is already a very dead horse. But nevertheless, I can't help wondering: Could this flat-footedness be an undesirable byproduct of having a lot of money?
What do I mean? Well, you know, if you don't have a lot of money, you have to take more time and effort to reach out to people and make sure they are okay with what you plan to do, because you really need their support and blessing to get things done. But having a lot of money changes things a little: Among other things, money gives you the possibility of steamrolling or bulldozing your way through things. Money may not be able to buy everything, but it does give you considerable ability to get things done without having to worry about what people may say or think about you. I'm not saying that this is what is driving Jones' morally flatfooted action: I'm just thinking aloud here. Besides, what can I possibly know about money, being somebody who doesn't have that much of it? But this may be good advice to any aspiring yoga bums out there (including myself): Try not to let money give you moral flat feet. As the Iyengar people would say: Raise your (moral) arches!