A “peace and love” like art director mate dragged me to my first yoga lesson in 2001. When the teacher began a monologue on human beings mutating to a superior breed of aliens (not joking), I stared at my colleague, to find him peacefully smiling and breathing. End of yoga for me. A year later I gave it a second try in London, at a very cool place close to home, where I ended up having some yoga and pilates sessions, and better massages. And that was my yoga experience, till last week. I decided to join a one week course a friend did in Madrid on breathing techniques and yoga, to relax and sleep well. Some different friends were kind of talking about this place and, as everything I do, I called them from one day to another, asking when and where there was a course, and there I went. My friend said the breathing thing was very helpful although the yoga was the spiritual kind of thing but, after a year on sleeping pills, I am open to try whatever is good to my nerves.
The breathing thing proved good the first day, also because we were encouraged to do ayurvedic diet for a week, quitting smoking, coffee, meat (impossible to do), alcohol and drugs, which is obviously good for anyone. There was a bit of self-help bullshit as well. I love self-help bullshit. So there was “me”, a funny hybrid between the skeptic and the hypersensitive types, in a place that targets for the latest. Maybe it is that problems in life open your mind….till once wide open, the killer in you gets off your body through the hole in your head, enraged against whoever trying to take advantage of your fragility. That is what you feel is happening here when the third day you learn this place is an NGO!!!, and all of them are volunteers (it is a big organization in the world). “What? An NGO? I paid 180 euros and there are 30 of us here. That makes 5.400 euros per course. Are you please telling me where this money go?” But they don´t, they say they are non profit and help people, but you don´t learn anything on the accounting. And the whole course has a lot of very well done marketing about the organization. They sell their courses and stuff to vulnerable people better than PADI sells their diving courses. But they try to sell they are non-profit. That is so wrong.
It is fine if people make money out of health, because other people is free to decide what is best for themselves. Psychiatrists; psychologists; physiotherapists; coachers; homeopaths; chiropractors; yoga centers; spas; acupuncturists; hypnotists and even mediums. If you are freely choosing, you are freely paying. You pay and you expect a service. That´s it, in the end. It´s up to you and if it proves good, it should probably be welcome. But this people sells health and then introduce the non-profit concept. I did six days on the course precisely cause I paid (and cause I would have loved to record the sessions), and tried to enjoy the yoga, the breathing, the laughing therapy, the games, the exchange of problems and views with other people (yes, you do that, that´s the self-help bullshit bit used in other coaching therapies), and it would all be fine if they would not manipulate people bit by bit, till the sixth day they give all that other unwanted info on their founder and his videos, books and courses, asking for volunteers and such. That´s got a name.
I quit that day. Mr 53m2 was so sweet to get me a huge steak that I enjoyed while peacefully breathing the clean air of our 53m2, and I googled them with more time for it. What did I find? Well, enough info for you to go through it if you ever decide to enroll on this breathing thing. This place is called The Art of Living (El arte de vivir) and click here to see their website, click here for the website all the people who quit the ngo, click here for a forum on their activities as ngo and lots of opinions to help you decide.
And click here for a great Simpsons episode for a bit of fun on cults.
Oops. Did I say that out loud?