Harlem Yoga Shake

Julia Novina, a yoga teacher in Greater Boston, put out the call on Facebook for yogis to participate in a “Harlem Shake,” the viral video craze that’s sweeping the internet. It’s this generation’s version of fitting college students into a phone booth or Volkswagen. I thought of doing the same, but she beat me to it. In any case, she had the vision and wherewithal to pull it off, so I wanted in. My son is a budding videographer, so I dragged him along. At the very least, I figured he’d free up the yogis to be zany. But he also brought some costume fodder, and most importantly, made some critical suggestions for how the scenes should be framed.

While Julia was editing the video, I became aware of this historical critique of cultural appropriation in the viral video, from Melissa Harris–Perry at MSNBC. As a sociologist, I clearly can’t ignore that and feel duly chastened.

However, in Julia’s defense, she did take the time to learn and use the correct dance move, which is more than we can say for a lot of these videos out there. My participation in this project was about how the affordances of yoga exist for us even as we are like everyone else. We are not lofty, quietist purists. We like to have fun, too. It was fun, that was the intent, and I stand by that.

Please leave comments on the blog or on Facebook to share your view.


About Richard Hudak

I am Senior Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and I have been a practitioner of Anusara™ yoga. I have completed 200 hours of teacher training within its diaspora community, consistent with its philosophy and alignment principles.
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1 Response to Harlem Yoga Shake

  1. Richard Hudak says:

    Update: the Harlem Shake becomes political protest in Egypt and Tunisia. http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/harlem-shake-egypt-tunisia/

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