by Pamela Tinkham, LCSW, C-IAYT, SEP
On Saturday, June 27th, 2015 at 9:15am, I arrived at West Beach in Stamford to teach Beach Yoga and discovered a young couple right on top of the lifeguard stand having sex. I set up for my 9:30 class as far away from them as possible, but there was no way to avoid seeing them. When my class arrived, the overall mood was “shock”. The couple had seen us but did not seem bothered by it. In 48 years, I have not seen that outright in public. I may have seen it in Central Park, NYC with a blanket covering the act. There was always some level of discretion. This was outright in public with no shame, even though they had seen us sitting there on the beach. There were clearly drugs and alcohol involved and no inhibitions. This pushed my boundaries to the edge and angered me about how I would possibly teach Yoga. It was not my best teaching, I must admit, as I was distracted throughout the entire class. I did begin the class with asking everyone to just notice their reactions to the event. Towards the end of class when the young man was walking past us he said, “You are doing Yoga? That’s weird!” He then told us that he was drunk. No kidding! He thought Yoga was weird, but having sex on the lifeguard stand was perfectly normal. OY VEY. Here are my Yoginis (female Yogis) reactions to the event:
“Something to check off my bucket list. Watching people have sex on the beach. Not exactly something that sets the tone for a yoga practice”.
“Anger and astonishment!”
And lastly, this is so well thought out and written that I wanted to print the entire thing. Please take the time to read it. It touches on many of the issues of today and touches my heart as well:
On the beach event:
Plato lived twenty-five hundred (2500) years ago and it’s amazing how he predicted that such an event would occur in our times, today. Although he did not mention all the specific details, that a man and his lover would perform explicit sexual acts, in the morning, on a public beach, indifferent to the disgust of onlookers while disrupting the yoga practice of a group of special yoginis. The practice of yoga, which is none other than the cultivation of the mind, body and spirit to the highest attainable human potential, could not be practiced because the yoginis attention was redirected towards the ensuing explicit sex acts instead of remaining focus on the actual yoga itself.
Is there any justice in this event?
It is probably safe to assume that the man was in violation of some existing local ordinances and broke some laws on the state and federal level. However, yoginis do not arrest criminals and bring them to justice before the law; and so that day, the man got away scot-free. Not to worry however, violators of this sort are often compulsive and it is just a matter of time before the law catches up with them.
The real question is, how did Plato predict this event 2500 years ago?
For that we must revisit Plato’s – The Ring of Gyges. Gyges is an allegory of how even a good man would behave if he discovered a magic ring that could make him invisible. It turns out, that with this new found power, the power of invisibility, a man known to be moral and ethical, would soon become corrupt and fall to the depths of his lowest nature and commit every imaginable perversion in order to satisfy his basest appetite. This occurs because invisibility offers anonymity, no harm to reputation, no consequences and no punishment. Under these circumstances, man’s lower nature is left unchecked and he will exercise the full consumption of his appetites unrestricted. And this is exactly what we saw the other day. A drunken intoxicated man, which gave him the illusion of being invisible and so, he felt no compulsion to adhere to any social conventions and acted out the full consumption of his appetites unrestricted. And in this way what Plato predicted would happen, happened. To which, in the final analysis, according to Plato, the fact that a man and his lover would perform explicit sexual acts, in the morning, on a public beach, indifferent to the disgust of onlookers while disrupting the yoga practice of a group of special yoginis was bound to happen.
How is this helpful?
Well, if it’s any consolation, there is no reason to despair about what is inevitable.
So what should we do now?
A) We can acknowledge trauma that it caused and look into finding a good psychotherapist.
B) We can write to our congressman and lobby for more protective laws that will safeguard our yoga practice from unexpected interruptions.
C) We can acknowledge that the event occurred, accept it, move on with our lives, rededicate ourselves to the yoga practice and be open to the universe as it continues to reveal its mystery to us.
I think C is the right choice, but these difficult matters are best determined by the thorough investigation of a nominated committee, so I welcome other responses.
Please feel free to reply to this with your feelings, thoughts, and reactions. I’m thrilled to say that since the event, I now have 100 RSVPs for the last 2 Beach Yoga classes on July 25th and August 1st (only kidding ha-ha).
Thank you for reading!
Namaste and Love ,