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Shiva Rea to Critics: “Skimpy is Ridiculous. I am a student like everyone else.”

in World News, YD News, Yoga Feuds

Shiva Rea speaks up in response to last week’s media tour of Trance Dance slam fest. Choosing facebook to publicly, semi-unofficially respond, Shiva gives her take on her experience at Rishikesh and thoughts on the definition of “skimpy”.
We’re glad she took the time and believe it’s fair to hear from the Shakti goddess herself. Full response posted below via facebook:

I am still in Kerala studying Kalarippayatu and I have been bringing students here to connect with the roots of Indian culture for the last seven years. I am a bit surprised by the article…very bizarre as it was not at all …what was happening. I am very respectfully dressed when I am in India as this was my 12th pilgrimage over the last 20 years. I was offering a namaskaram for Ma Ganga and instead of being on a big stage we faced Ma Ganga all together. One of the most beloved Mataji of the Parmath Niketan ashram was singing Ganga slokhas and mantras the whole time and we closed the whole practice by making offerings to Ma Ganga. I was wearing either crop pants with a skirt over the pants or long pants – honestly I don’t remember – but skimpy is ridiculous – the Kumbha Mela Sadhus wear way less. There was a part of the namaskaram in which we were moving in a sahaja flowing motion with the mantras with the powerful flow of Ma Ganga . I remember a small handful of Indian students leaving within 15 minutes but I thought it was too cold or that they were very much beginners. I felt such blessings from Pujya Swami and all on Shivratri. I actually intentionally offered classes to honor the source of yoga. Quite bizarre…I think they were seeking publicity. It was a blessed Shivratri and Ma Ganga is alive in my heart.

This was my workshop description not as a “defense” but just a glance how limited the engagement of the press is at going deeper. I would have loved to be interviewed before being plastered as the “cover girl” of this article. I am a student and sadhaka like everyone else.

Ganga Namaskar – A Prana Flow Movement Offering with Live Chanting

In this energetic vinyasa sadhana on the banks of the Ganga , we will experience a prana flow namaskaram dedicated to Ma Ganga as the living flow of the Shakti and the healing power of the water element. Through mantra, mudra, healing asanas, and sahaja flow, we will explore movement as meditation as a way of embodying the flow of the sacred for realization and awakening.

It is a good debate that we all can engage in – the roots and living evolution of sadhana.

Jai Ma Gange! Jai Ma Shakti! She is alive in us all!



21 comments… add one
  • i say kudos to Shiva for addressing the issue and not pretending it didn’t exist.

  • Actually, when in Rishikesh the dress is pant/skirt and typically a long kaftan on top. She probably wore something sleeveless. But, really, yoga should be the focus here not the dress, as long as she was not offensively dressed. If she had been, I’m fairly certain she would have known it or covered appropriately. And, shouldn’t the focus here be unity, devotion, honor, community worship/ respect to Ganga? One thing I love about India is the beauty of the people and the vibrancy of the dress. I’m pretty sure Shiva Rea looked vibrant!
    There are photos of the international yoga festival on Parmarth’s Facebook site.

  • Lisa

    What a wonderful woman she is. I don’t know too much about Shiva Rea- aside from the article in question, and seeing some of her DVD’s, but her kind energy and intentions seems to shine through this open letter.

  • “the Kumbha Mela Sadhus wear way less”

    that line alone blows her entire argument for me.

    I was at the Maha Kumbh Mela last year and just because the naga babas are naked, or close to it, does not give me the right to walk around half naked. Using her (il)logic, that means I could have jumped naked in the Ganges like they did. Not. #1, comparing what an American yoga teacher wears to an ancient lineage of naked naga babas is ridiculous, #2, it’s THEIR country, not yours, Shiva. Her argument is specious.

    • Eileen

      I was with Shiva Rea in Kerala, India when this story broke, even before I arrived I was given guide lines on dress code for practice, and again when I got there, Shiva is very respectful of dress attire and yoga heritage in India and I only ever saw her modestly dressed. The photo’s you see published are general not what she wears there!
      Shiva Rea is a big hearted, warm, loving Yogini, who is real and genuine.
      In this big rush to ‘judge’ Shiva, I can’t help wondering if people could spend their energy doing something positive instead like toward the people of Japan?

      • Here here Eileen, I feel sick over this. This attack is so undeserved and toxic, I hope people can just leave it in the past.

  • Let’s not forget that the same people who protested Shiva also protested Gurmukh for chanting “Alleluia.” And there were certainly no issues about HER dress. I think it’s entirely likely that these people had an agenda, as Shiva suggests. If they find any expression of “Western” yoga so offensive, then they shouldn’t attend international yoga conferences that invite Western teachers to teach.

    I very much suspect that there were a lot of Indians there who didn’t have this particular axe to grind that found Shiva’s demo to be perfectly fine, and perhaps wonderful. Shiva’s a very charismatic teacher; I’d bet that her energy touched lots of people in very positive ways.

  • Knew you could make an awesome post of this… 😉

  • if the rites are universal, as it seems they are, then they can be practiced just as spiritually anywhere, including in our own country…

  • Raj

    OHH great
    it means Shiva Rea wants ton say that she is more great then Naga Sadhus or Their linage …..
    bis surprise that she compare her self with Naga Sadhus….
    she is giving example of Naga Sadhus of kumbh mela with her…

    Peace for all

  • the attention given to this story is over the top. bottom line is that the story is a non-issue and IMHO has been sensationalized. SR should have just ignored the noise.

    “that there were a lot of Indians there who didn’t have this particular axe to grind that found Shiva’s demo to be perfectly fine”

    exactly. so what’s the big deal?

    “these people had an agenda”

    there are lots of agendas in India, so what if it was at a yoga conference?

    this is a country where theaters were burned down when the movie “Water” was shown, a movie by a woman director about how widows are treated in India.

    in the grand scheme of things, people walking out of a yoga conference because someone chanted “Alleluia” or wore clothes they did not approve of is nothing.

    get some perspective.

    • lot of good points, well said, thank you! 😉

    • chan

      People like you can only see dirtiness in world and you are also throughing dirt everywhere..
      you will only see this in India and East….thanks that you have great culture where you killed you your prophet….where culture based on Guilt…..

  • Elaine

    If Shiva was wearing a top like in the pic at the top of the page then yes….far too skimpy. As a teacher I am always surprised at the small shorts and low cut tops that appear in my classes. My Guru/always insisted on modesty in all things…so her teachings have been passed to me. Respect, self respect and modesty.

    • Elaine…really? There is nothing remotely skimpy or immodest about that simple tank top. Of all the well-known western teachers, I think Shiva dresses among the most modest. And as long as we are judging what other female practitioners/teachers are wearing, we are seriously missing the point of yoga.

  • Don’t we have bigger topics to discuss and debate? This goes back to the Toe Soxx ad and the nude models. What one person feels is respectful and appropriate, isn’t the view of all. Let’s move on to more salient topics in yoga.

  • ariadna

    Shiva recently came to London and her solstice workshop was truly awesome – here is some reflections: http://bit.ly/noD70y

  • Shiva Rea’s recent Solstice Workshop in London was an outstanding experience – here’s some reflections: http://bit.ly/noD70y

  • Brian Reilly

    To be honest. I’d prefer to see Shiva completely naked doing her Practise ( in honour of her namesake !! )

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