Un-yoga

Like Joey, I’ve been digging into my copy of the most recent edition of Namarupa (which given the demand for it, I’m considering flogging on ebay – heh heh just kidding). The interviews with ‘The Next Generation’ are particularly interesting and I’m especially taken with Prashant Iyengar’s take on things yogic. He mostly restrains himself throughout the article but every so often he lets down his diplomatic guard and fires off something strident. Here’s an example that hit the right note for me and the way I’m thinking lately about the ‘Journal’ masses these days…

We cannot expect that millions are practicing real yoga just because millions of people claim to be doing yoga all over the globe. What has spread all over the world is not yoga. It is not even non-yoga; it is Un-yoga.

There you go. What’s going on in the guise of Yoga is not just the ‘absence of yoga’ but rather worse than even that…the opposite of Yoga. I remember wandering around the floor at the International Yoga show just over a year ago and thinking it was all just too much. We all need to wear something at practice, we all need a mat…but do we need to have those clothes and those mats – or a different outfit and mat for each day. And yoga socks? Why on earth would I need yoga socks?

I’m not for that. I practice in shorts I bought five years ago for something like $12.00 – Darby and Lino have both adjusted me and they didn’t have anything to say about those shorts. They’re not even real shorts (let alone yoga shorts) – I actually think they might be for swimming. Having said that, I did come to yoga for its physical benefits – the exercise of asanas and the diet and lifestyle implied by yama. And it was because I didn’t see the physical benefits coming fast enough that I switched to the rigour of the SKPJ style. The rest I only opened my eyes to later. Indeed, I’ve only been delving into the Gita and the Yoga Sutras for just over a year.

So maybe there’s hope. The optimist in me thinks that Yoga isn’t in fact being trivialised by Western vanity and commercialism, but rather that the asanas and the paraphenalia it requires are the metaphorical Trojan horse’ – the seductive tool that opens the door for the other more ‘subversive’ elements that assault the ego and subdue its materialist mindset.

5 Responses to Un-yoga

  1. Sammy says:

    Being a Yogi does not mean that one has to be a cheap-skate about clothing or be fashion-challenged, in my opinion.

    Even SKPJ and Iyengar wear gold Rolex watches and rings. Lots of Bling Bling shown in that issue of Namarupa. They also wear expensive ‘Prana’ clothing.

    Nothing wrong with sharing the wealth and putting others to work by buying their products.

  2. samasthiti says:

    I get what you mean about the “Journal” though..
    I can’t buy it anymore. All the gorgeous women (do men still practice yoga?) in their yoga fashion with perfect hair in their perfect lofts doing perfect yoga.
    It’s fashion and yoga “style” they are selling now. Some people are attracted to it because of this,but then some stay because yoga works. Others will leave when it gets hard.

    I am glad that it is more mainstream though, people don’t look at me like I’m a spaced out hippy freak when I tell the I do yoga.

  3. Ash says:

    I don’t think Prana’s expensive for what you get. I’ve got a Prana mat, rug and bag. And when those shorts get too old to practice in I’ll probably replace them with ones from Prana. My point was I don’t need a wardrobe full of ‘Yoga’ gear and I don’t need yoga cruises and shelf full of pointless yoga DVDs. I’m not anti-capitalist by any stretch (I have a fine watch myself and you should see my house). But there’s a difference between capitalism, and the crass consumerism and excessive consumption that seems to surround ‘yoga’ (and so much else) these days.

  4. Sammy says:

    You’re right about excessive consumerism, ash. No doubt.

    My point is that I personally take the good with the bad.

    The commercial side of it is inevitable, especially here in the West. They’re not perfect over in India either, from what I read and from what I’m told by people who have been there.

    I’m just thankful that I can practice it and make it part of my lifestyle, despite the extra commercial ‘noise’ that comes with it.

  5. yoga chickie says:

    Interesting about the accoutrements of yoga. I haven’t really given much thought to that. What I have given thought to is the great many yoga studios and yoga classes that spring up EVERYWHERE these days offering, quite honestly, SHIT yoga, pardon my French. NO integrity – just hunger to jump on the latest in the fitness bandwagon. If anything strikes me as subversive to what yoga is, that’s hitting the nail on the head for me. Sadly, from what I have seen, it is very difficult to balance providing REAL yoga with making enough money to stay open as a business. My hope is that eventually, the charlatans will go away, making more room for the earnest and sincere out there…

    oh…and susan…if you read this…i don’t think the yoga these perfect women are doing is perfect at all…lots of terrible alignment in that mag!

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