Yoga Journal Proceeds To Hyatt: Decree Issued By Outraged Yogis

Jillian and I know there are people who think war is wrong, and that veterans are brain washed automatons. What they often think of military spouses can be just as bad. We shrug because that’s simply the state of their mind and we don’t let it get in our way. Once in awhile, we can spark a revelation, but by and large to try to do that 24/7 would be a colossal waste of time. We thrive in this teeter-totter-technicolor world. 

We focus on helping others, though we can’t ignore how much baggage is delivered at the yoga doorstep by well meaning yoga-doers. Recently a call was put out by It’s All Yoga Baby to boycott Hyatt Hotels, which is in a contractual disagreement over union matters, work conditions, as well as the firing of housekeepers to subcontract them at a lesser rate. The reason for this ire is that Yoga Journal has contracted to have their annual conference at the San Francisco Hyatt. 

Regardless of what has happened internally at Hyatt, Yoga Journal has decided not to back out of their contractual agreement and go ahead. Does this make Yoga Journal anti-union?  Should we assume yoga-doers will be pro-union?  Does this make either side good or bad? Should everyone quit hunting for cheap rooms at 4-star hotels online pitting one website against another? Should they pay full price instead so higher wages may be paid? Does this mean they shouldn’t stay at that cute non-union trendy boutique hotel because it might pay lower wages and have equally difficult conditions?

Eric Walrabenstein, Founder of Operation Bootstrap
Eric Walrabenstein, Founder of Operation Bootstrap

To us, the bigger question is: Do we really want to lay that baggage on the yoga doorstep? WarRetreat is here to help people with bags staggeringly weighted with traumatic experiences. We think it’s unfair to ask them to haul anything more than a request to stretch and breathe. And even with that  –one has to go softly.

 We choose to let two big corporations work that shit out. This doesn’t mean we don’t care: rather, we accept there are more sides to every story, that our actions lead to imbalance in ways seen and unseen, and not everything will be to our liking. If it were, we probably wouldn’t like it anyway. Traction is only gained when we are uncomfortable.

But what we like is the response of former Army Infantry Officer, now founder of Operation Bootstrap. He’s also a yoga teacher and studio owner in Phoenix.  Walrabenstein (who was once called a great XO by one of his men) wrote this in rebuttal to the boycott Hyatt post on the yoga blog, “It’s All Yoga Baby.” 

We’ve gone ahead and lifted it, which was shortly posted on his Facebook page. Walrabenstein shoots with clean barrel, and his intellectual gun is smokin’ hot.  (Though we did smirk when he felt compelled to confirm his compassion for the disenfranchised for the It’s All Yoga Baby readers. At WarRetreat, we don’t check for passports).

Dear Yoga Friends,

Let me start out by saying that I do in fact care about the disenfranchised. I do work to see a more just and compassionate world. And if I were in charge of the Yoga Journal conference, I would very likely change venues in support of those who are seeking a fair shake from the global giant Hyatt.

And thus, I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are voicing their disappointment in Yoga Journal for deciding to hold their conference at the San Francisco Hyatt.

But I do so in the name of this opinionated and imperfect character Eric Walrabenstein—not in the name of yoga. Certainly not. 

To voice our outrage about Yoga Journal’s decision to on the basis of yoga—or their affiliation with it—is to, frankly, not understand the purpose, or practice, of yoga. And quite colossally so.

Here’s the thing:

-Yoga is not about standing up for what’s right, while going to war with what’s wrong.
It’s about transcending right and wrong all together.

-Yoga is not about aligning ourselves with those who do good and against those who do not.
It’s about being liberated from the self all together.

-Yoga is not about standing up and fixing the problems of the world.
It’s about sitting down and seeing the innate perfection that has always already been.

This war against reality is the ego’s game, not yoga’s—and certainly not your truest self’s.

So, by all means stand up for the causes that you believe in: Rail against injustice, fight for the disenfranchised, champion the good and assault the bad. It is your right, and some would argue your responsibility, to make this world a better place in which to live.

But please don’t drag yoga into your war against God’s perfection. 

Yoga is about creating unconditional stillness; yoga is about accessing the perfection of what is; yoga is about recognizing who you truly are—beyond the one filled with outrage and self-righteousness. 

If you wish to truly do something in the name of yoga, sit, breathe, and smile.

Love & blessings…
E

P.S. I have no doubt that this idea will ruffle a great many feathers; particularly those of the spiritualized, feel-good crowd who confuse temporarily satiated egos for some sort of spiritual progress. I understand. I get pissed at things too, whilst trying to remind myself that this too is part of the inherent perfection of what is.

BootstrapUSAKanani’s note: Consider Operation Bootstrap, a thoughtful, well designed and proven effective program that was many years in the making. Operation Bootstrap helps veterans find stress reduction through yoga. Support it for the price of a cup of coffee.

4 thoughts on “Yoga Journal Proceeds To Hyatt: Decree Issued By Outraged Yogis”

  1. Ever ask for a tax receipt for that Operation Bootstrap donation? Oh wait – you can’t. Because Bootstrap is a FOR PROFIT organization, designed to make owner “Yogi E” a shitload of money. You’re not funding actual yoga teachers to work with our traumatized vets, but rather a DVD/online program…cuz you know, folks with PTSD don’t need human contact or individualized support…NOT! And the Indiegogo funding campaign came after more than a year of Yogi E shopping his program around to potential corporate sponsors, all of whom said, “No thanks, we prefer to make our charitable contributions to actual charities.” Nice way to take advantage of your former connection to our military, E. where exactly did you serve as a infantryman again?

  2. For Skeptic Yogi
    Author : SkepticYogi (IP: 68.230.20.225 , ip68-230-20-225.ph.ph.cox.net)
    E-mail : keepinitreal@gmail.com

    From what we could tell in the years that many people took to help develop the Bootstrap program, there never was any intention to make a dime off the free program. In fact, we’ve been following him for years, and now really –there must be some big beef you have with him personally to search out this post, create a bogus gmail account, and attack anonymously. And worse –call into question his service, which is not only low, it also shows you know nothing about looking up someone’s record to verify. For the record, he was with the infantry at Ft. Lewis, and also with the Reserves at the Presidio.

    Yes, we knew he was shopping for corporate sponsors. But that’s not easy to do. And yet, he and his peers (some of whom were with the AZ National Guard) stuck with the program, spending their own money to do it. Running a website, distribution –it all takes money to get the word out there. As for making tons of money –I rather doubt that, and I’d have to say, that’s pure supposition on your part, just like calling in his record of service.

    As for “funding yoga teachers” guess what?
    Almost none of the teachers I know of are funded to teach veterans. They’re doing it as service.
    While there are a few programs through the VA, and the military, as well as clinics that pay the teachers, it isn’t like this everywhere. Most of the VA Hospitals (like the one where Jillian taught) are asking the yoga teachers to volunteer. They aren’t getting paid either. And truthfully, that’s one of our big gripes with the VA. That a bureaucracy as big as it is, with funding for all sorts of other programs –some that are in the “study” stage, get money, while yoga doesn’t.
    But the over 600 teachers through Yoga For Vets are offering 4 free classes for veterans in community yoga studios. And the teachers who teach through Connected Warriors –most of them are doing it for free as well.
    I think if you have a personal beef with Bootstrap, you’re going to find it way more constructive to work out your differences with Eric.

  3. SkepticYogi, I don’t know where your beef is coming from from I know Yogi E, or better known by me as Eric Walrabenstein. He was my Platoon leader and I was his driver back in 1986 at Fort Lewis in 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division (I hope that can clear up your question as to where he served as an Infantryman). He then became the Executive Officer for that Company after receiving his 1st Lieutenant bars following his stint as a 2nd Lieutenant Platoon Leader. I then went on to Korea and Eric became a Captain. I’ve known Eric to really care for the troops and he is nothing like what you described above. Feel free to contact me directly and I can forward you to many others who have served with this great man who will tell you the same and can vouch for his time as an Infantry Officer and his integrity.

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