An Open Letter to Shiva Rea
A Word From Buti Founder Bizzie Gold
I was shocked last night when I was alerted by thousands of students that you went out of your way to create a “call out” post on Facebook. I’ve taken the time to go through your post in-depth to bring more light to areas that were either intentionally or unintentionally deceptive. In this letter, we will also take a journey through your career and why, of all the women in the yoga community at large, you should understand what this journey is like and support instead of tear apart.
Let’s go line by line, shall we. In response to:
“It is bold for you to call this: "the evolution of yoga". This seems to be more of the evolution of a fitness form.”
Let’s start dissecting this based on an excerpt from our yoga teacher training manual:
“The practice of yoga began in India over 6,000 years ago. The word yoga means “to join or unite.”Yoga is NOT a religion. Any person, regardless of their faith or affiliation, can be considered a yogi or yogini. The practice of yoga is often viewed as a path of self-discovery and inner-transformation. This transformation or “joining” of the soul body and physical body is achieved through a series of steps that includephysical movement, focus, breathwork, ethical behavior and meditation.While yoga is rooted in traditional text and study,it is also a living breathing organism that needs to evolve with societal needs.”
6,000 years ago, people were working the land and spending the majority of their days involved in some aspect of hard physical labor. In 2017, the vast majority of us spend our days at a computer - sitting- all day long. Evolution takes place when successive generations needs change and the practices they engage in have to adapt to fit these new needs. Much like what you’ve done in the vein of evolution for the yoga community, Buti incorporates primal movement and shaking to catalyze vibrational change in the body. The process is all woven seamlessly into vinyasa. I would strongly argue that if we didn’t refer to it as yoga - we would get accused of stealing yoga and not giving proper credit to the practice that comprises the entire skeleton of what we do. Our practice draws upon Kundalini, Vinyasa and Anusara to name a few of the strongest influences in yoga lineage.
Where do we draw the line between yoga and fitness? I’d argue, using the definition I’ve placed above from our yoga teacher training manual (which is also widely accepted I’d add) that yoga is a path to self-discovery through physical movement (CHECK), focus (CHECK), breathwork (CHECK), ethical behavior (CHECK) and meditation (CHECK). Buti Yoga is comprised of each of these elements and when compared to other prominent yoga styles in the West, I feel strongly that our students carry what they learn on the mat into their lives and step into their truest form of leadership, support and love.
And onto the next - this one is my favorite:
“Undulation, circular and diverse core movements, and isolations are not a "new technique" for anyone familiar with African & Middle-Eastern based dance forms. I offered a practice "creative core" on DVD 10 years ago which has circular, fluid movement complimentary to yoga of which you have many similar moves but I didn't call it yoga even though it is integrated inner-outer.”
We’ve never taken credit for “creating” hip or abdominal isolations, so alerting us in your post that this isn’t a “new technique” seems odd and frankly condescending. We mention in a number of places throughout our website that we draw on primal movement and a variety of indigenous dance styles at the discretion and background / expertise of that individual instructor. If you are referring to Spiral Structure Technique®, this does not have to do simply with hip or abdominal isolations. This protocol applies to all joint capsules of the body to facilitate strengthening, range of motion and injury repair.
When I did a quick search of videos that you’ve put out out through the years, despite your comment in the post, they are all described as yoga either in the title or in the description. Here’s the thing - I think they are yoga and I do think you were one of the most influential yogis pushing the envelope on evolution. Before today, I genuinely admired your work.
Let’s dive into this certification comment. Here’s what I know - I don’t make the rules but I do follow them:
“I don't appreciate you training teachers to teach Vinyasa Flow and Buti Yoga in 14 days which is 13 hours a day for 14 days straight and using the Yoga Alliance for a more fitness industry model of fast expansion to get a 200RYT and then just for churning out teachers (someone just said you actually only need 2-days! to be certified to teach Buti Yoga only).”
Let’s first get our facts straight. Our yoga teacher training program which has been around for years is based on a 4 month yoga teacher training course. This course covers energetic anatomy, chakra diagnostics, anatomy and physiology, leadership training and of course application of yoga principles including but not limited to asana and pranayama. Our program includes extensive testing and demonstration which is more than I can say for 90% of the yoga programs out there which genuinely just want to turn a profit. We actually care deeply about the quality of our graduating students and test them accordingly. Only this year did we launch an immersion training option (14 consecutive days) which is often the only way to attend a YTT for people looking to transition into yoga immersion but can only take off 2 weeks for work. The review process for curriculum is intensive and our program covers everything the 4 month program does with less time to absorb content. Obviously, this isn’t ideal for me as the teacher either. I’d much rather give students a chance to absorb, apply and integrate what they’ve learned over a longer period of time but some students simply can’t make a 4 month commitment.
In addition to our yoga teacher training program, we also offer Buti®, Deep, Sculpt and HotCore. Each of these formats is a 2 day certification. It is important to add that over 80% of all participants in the shorter program formats go on to take our 200 hour yoga teacher training program.
The ominous typo… let’s address this one:
"Under your video of your ad you highlight a review that this is for "banging body and sexy workout". Your typo "But Yoga" says it all. Using the term "Butisattvas" for instructors is really a stretch from the meaning of a Bodhisattva. I doubt you will leave this in the comment section so I will post this elsewhere too. Let's all work together to empower women. It is important to have clear language. "
I didn’t write the ad that you saw but I do know that the woman who made the typo (which will now go down in history) was ironically a big fan of yours. She was horrified when she read what you wrote today and immediately reached out to me fired up and upset. The review from another student is what it is - a review from a student. Unfortunately, we live in a world where women are focused on the external side - the abs, the booty - at Buti we like to refer to what we do as a sneak attack. You speak to the women looking for the external results, you give them them what they are looking for while also leading them down a deep spiritual journey. A recent student review that speaks to this topic is as follows: “I came to Buti looking to change my body and it changed my entire life instead. The six-pack abs ended up being a happy side effect.”
Sattva means goodness, purity or light. Buti is an Indian Marathi word for “a cure that has been hidden or kept secret.” We don’t use the word butisattva as an affront or error to the word bodhisattva. We use the word butisattva to describe students of the practice that have tapped into their “cure” their own light that allows them to make intense shifts in their physical, emotional and spiritual bodies
And now, your closing statement, let’s dive in:
"Note I am speaking up and questioning your marketing statements, language and short-term training and appropriation of terms like Bodhisattva. I am all for every positive form of movement and I feel fitness can be absolutely transformative and spiritual to however anyone wants to experience it themselves. If women are benefitting wonderful! But there are broader, long-term issues beyond the class that are truly effecting the evolution of yoga in America that I am concerned about."
This particular marketing video was filmed by a few of our students that own a studio in Georgia. They are not representative of our group as a whole or our corporate offices. We were promoting their studio and speaking to an important point that they wanted to make (being from the bible belt) that some of the movements that look “sexy” (their term for primal movement) do wonders for the body and even the pastor’s wife loves it. The story they were telling was an important one and is being misconstrued by you and your comments. They were trying to tell Southern women that moving your body freely is important and that even though it may look “sexy” the internal state achieved through the movement is profound.
We have over 4,000 instructors worldwide, teaching in 25 different countries all united around creating environment that encourages students to step into their leadership potential, implement longlasting changes in their lives and lift other people up without any judgment.
Then we all have to deal with judgment like yours. Interestingly enough, when I was first alerted to this I did a little research on my own and saw that you received similar feedback for some of your work early on.[ SHIVA REA GETS SLAMMED FOR FLOW JUST FOR SHOW]
Here’s an excerpt from this harsh review of Shiva Rea’s performance:
“This is not yoga, it’s just a show, but to succeed in California, this is what they have to do.” Austrian yoga teacher Florian Palzinsky, 42, groaning in response to Shiva Rea’s short-shorts “writhing” in Yoga Trance Dance at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh.
According to reports, some 20 peeved practitioners, not feeling the Cali blonde goddess’s shakti flow, up and left before the performance ended. Ouch! “Wearing skimpy clothes, glamorising or doing unusual things definitely effects the dignity of Yoga. The government needs to step in and retain the essence and authenticity of the traditional Indian art,” warns Yogi Ram, founder Trika Yoga and Rishikesh’s Kala Ashram.”
So, how did it feel when you were working hard to evolve yoga yourself only to read that you're “wearing skimpy clothes, glamorising or doing unusual things definitely effects the dignity of yoga.” It probably didn’t feel good did it? But I’m glad it didn’t stop you from doing the important work that you’ve done. When people start to shift the status quo it inevitably bumps up against resistance. That’s how you know you’re onto something important.
I do wonder why though, even after you received judgment for your evolutionary attempts, you decided to replicate the same behavior onto another? My goal here is to remind you that you can’t judge a book by its cover(or in this case one of many facebook ads). The practice of Buti is deep, intentional and applies yogic roots in all aspects of what we do. Hundreds of thousands of women have changed their lives through this practice and sadly many of them also admired you and today their hearts were broken by your judgement. The door is open to you to anytime you want to participate in any of our workshops or even just try a class with me personally. I know that if you were able to see for yourself and experience the depth of knowledge that we impart in our courses, you’d be pleasantly amazed.
If you want to take a look at the irony that she is calling our practice “not yoga,” take a peek through these:
https://youtu.be/eQ8DT3SvOa4 [ 1:21 gives you a peek into the good stuff]
https://youtu.be/-9LfqoJeh9g [ be sure to go to 1:45 on this one for the real good stuff ]
https://youtu.be/A9PkFFjDh_4 [ :49 seconds and on this is yoga but when we do the same thing - twerking. Genuinely absurd. ]
https://youtu.be/TRou8B31Hic [ the whole thing. If she can title this Yoga Trance Dance and by the way lead certifications in Yoga Trance Dance which she used to do - this is the ultimate double standard. ]
Yoga was brought to the West to be shared. Since then, there has been a steady uprising in pretentious antics and teachers abusing their power ( many even facing legal action for sexual abuse). Most of the yoga that you think is “traditional” is nothing of the sort. Open your eyes and do your own research. We live in a unique time of change where the new will inevitably bump up against those claiming to be traditionalists of which Shiva Rea is certainly not one (she’s an evolutionary). It’s important that we not be so quick to judge and do harm through our social media platforms.
Whatever path you take and whatever that path looks like is fine with us. We are not in the business of trying to judge or shame other people and practices for what their yoga “looks like. “
You can’t be a revolutionary if you’re a traditionalist
Proud to live by this phrase every day. We honor tradition and evolve the practice to meet you - where you are.
Founder, Buti Yoga