Yoga downers and doubters: David Regelin responds to New York Magazine

David Regelin (Photo: Yoganonymous)

Held up as a poster child for alignment fanaticism in New York Magazine this week, yoga instructor David Regelin sets out to prove he’s not the asshole the article “You Call That A Tree Pose?!” makes him out to be.

In an rebuttal published on Yoganonymous, Regelin had this to say, “I immediately sensed that I had been used to promote the growing popular and reactionary trend of yoga skepticism.”

True, the article characterizes him as a judgemental hardass, who didn’t teach his students what he felt they should be learning—and then blamed them for it.

And the shirtless photos of Regelin (in the mag’s centerfold no less) brought to mind thoughts of “yoga beefcake,” “showoff,” and “primadonna.” Even if they are AWESOME.

Of course, fire on the yoga flames is that “Tree Pose” dropped within days of the incendiary New York Times yoga-causes-injuries-and-strokes article.

Regelin’s response is pretty measured, articulate, and unasshole-ish.

For those of you who don’t have 15 minutes to read his New Yorker-length response, here are a few highlights:

-Altering the position of someone’s yoga posture does not mean that I don’t “like” what I see, It is a formal adjustment and it is not accompanied by a like or dislike,  a correction is not a value judgment. It is purely objective.

-And I do not admonish…anyone else who shows up to my class. I do however speak in a very direct and matter of fact way, and I don’t think many people are used to that.

-I do now and again crack a joke typically with a dry tone and say things like “you shouldn’t be coming to class to get muscles like mine” which is usually followed up with the zinger “because that would be impossible”. I tell that joke every other class and It’s one of those jokes that’s funny because it’s too arrogant to be taken seriously. It is an attempt to offset the intrinsic confrontational moments in the practice. The “confrontation” I speak of, by the way, is between the student and themselves, not them and I.

-Students don’t know what they don’t know. I want my students to become skillful: skill defined not only as physical ability, but the mental capacity to make distinctions.

-Handstand classes with music and long flowing sequences are par for the coarse now, and there is nothing wrong with them necessarily. I have simply moved on.

-I’ve always felt spiritually inclined, however, the student base I was attracting with the Multi-Intenso brand was primarily fitness oriented, and while it is not necessarily “non-spiritual” to strive to be fit, I was disappointed because my message was buried under the intensity of the class format.

-I was also consistently injured from my own overzealous and uninformed practice habits, and I didn’t want to pass that on to my students.

-Many of my Kula students from a certain era were primarily conditioned to work hard and sweat. As my teaching method evolved I had to introduce a new set of terms to my students because I was not offering the same concepts as most popular alignment methods.

-The dialog between myself and students after class went from “can I have your playlist” to “can you show me that adjustment again?”.

-The article does not make me seem like a nice guy, and I am a nice guy, but when I teach, I teach.

To read the New York Magazine article, click here.

To read David Regelin’s response to it on Yoganonymous, click here.

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