Since I’ve become a yoga teacher (and even really before this marking point), I’ve had numerous people ask me what I think about yoga going mainstream. I had yet to post my opinion on the issue because I hadn’t really developed a strong stance either way about the commercialization of yoga. In some aspects, I’m repulsed by the the marketing scheme that yoga has become. I see more and more studios devoting twice as much space to their clothing line than their actually classrooms, and smack the word “yoga” on a shirt, bottle, or bag, and you’ll be sure to pay a $50 minimum.
This is not yoga. Those bags, shoes, shirts, pants, bottles, etc. are not yoga. Yoga is so much more than things.
It’s not just the labeling factor that bothers me. If business could coexist with genuine yoga, then so be it. But classic yoga is increasingly being abandoned for a new-aged, artificial version. Classes are progressively heading down a path of degradation. Instead of the traditional mindful mind and body experiences one could once guarantee they would be walking into, an elevating amount of classes have become similar to mindless, overexerting aerobic routines. Instead of feeling relaxed yet rejuvenated after a class, one will often feel worn out and drained. And if the class doesn’t leave one exhausted, many students will walk out, never wishing to return. I see this in my own classes, as I struggle to try and find a happy medium between those who are looking for the traditional yoga experience, and those who are seeking an intense workout. Don’t get me wrong, yoga can definitely be a great workout, but when you’re teaching beginners, it’s more important to emphasize connection with the breath and body. This becomes difficult if you have the students huffing and puffing their way through continuous warrior I’s and II’s, with their minds primarily focused on how much more time it will be until their teacher says, “Now you can slowly come out of the pose”. This entirely prevents them from enjoying and living in the present moment, one of the main goals of yoga.
Many people expect yoga to simply be another weight loss formula similar to their typical cardio routines at the gym, and this partially stems from the numerous classes that reflect this attitude. However, actual yoga classes are not intended to be for the purposes of weight loss. Instead, traditional yoga classes are intended to get students to accept and love the bodies that they are presently in. Through this acceptance, one can more easily work towards living a healthy lifestyle, and from these lifestyle changes, it is then that students will be able to lose weight.
Although yoga is increasingly stemming away from it’s wholesome roots, I also see several positive aspects of yoga going mainstream. For one, yoga is now everywhere. Classes are ubiquitous and are offered at all times throughout the day. If you wake up one morning and your body’s craving yoga, or you decide last minute in the evening that you feel like getting your stretch on, there’s bound to be at least one class available for you to drop in on.
You no longer need to travel to 5 different stores just to find a quality mat, and stretch pants can be found in almost every store, from Walmart to J. Crew.
Yeah, there are people who are doing yoga merely because they think it’s “cool”, but at least they’re doing it. The proliferation of yoga has opened up the eyes of so many people to this wonderful practice. And it’s available for all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. It’s no longer a faux pas for a man to publicly do yoga in America. More and more men are participating, with classes being filled up by both sexes. It’s an open forum that allows anyone to unwind, destress, and reap its benefits. However, if yoga goes too far astray from it’s original roots, yoga will slowly lose it’s much of it’s openness and revitalizing benefits. I think that it’s amazing that so many people are getting into yoga. However, I hope that the future generation of yoga will carry with it the true philosophy of yoga as peaceful forum that works to connect the mind, body, and soul.
I will be following this post with some more of my opinions about the commercialization of yoga. While I still don’t feel entirely devoted to one side about whether the commercialization is negative or positive, I’m definitely leaning towards the negative side. My next post will be directed towards this issue and will explain what prompted me to finally write this post.