Friday October 8th, 8pm
“Yoga conquers America—and is conquered in its turn—in this labyrinthine cultural history. Journalist Syman traces American enthusiasm for yoga back to Thoreau and follows it through cycles of waxing and waning popularity: it was decried by Victorians for its association with madness and tantric sex rituals, celebrated in the 1960s for its association with altered states of consciousness (and tantric sex rituals), and ubiquitously embraced in the 21st century as a wholesome, anodyne exercise program. The author argues that, even as the om-chanting adept became the embodiment of spirituality, yoga’s mainstreaming risked the discipline losing its rich spiritual content, along with the more extreme contortions, regular enemas, and whatever else Americans considered off-putting. Unfortunately, the author’s attempts to clarify yoga’s spiritual content, which is multifarious and intractably murky, don’t always succeed, and sometimes the narrative bogs down amid barnstorming swamis and their squabbling sects. When she pulls back to view the culture mashup yoga has become—a cure for back pain, a beauty regime, and a route to God—she gives a cogent, engrossing analysis of this Asian-born spiritual practice turned all-American panacea.”
Stefanie’s articles on technology, media, and culture have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Rolling Stone, Vogue, The Village Voice, Yoga Journal, and Namarupa.
Syman has been featured in two documentary films, Yoga, Inc. and Ashtanga, NY.
In 1995, she co-founded FEED (formerly www.feedmag.com) an award-winning independent web magazine, and for the next six years acted as Co-Editor and Co-Publisher. In 2000, she was part of the creative team that founded Plastic.com, a content and community site focused on pop culture. And in 2005, as Editorial Director, she helped launch lime.com, a site focused on healthy living and sustainability.
Stefanie has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for fifteen years. A native of Los Angeles and graduate of Yale University with a degree in literature, she currently lives in Brooklyn.