Yoga, victim of its own success?

Yoga, that used to be the stuff only weird people were doing. People who didn’t drive, but cycled. People who had muesli for breakfast when a significant part of the population had no clue how to even spell that. People who had “against nuclear power”-buttons on their bags and stickers on their windows. People who… well, you get the idea. People who were either weird or crazy. Or both.

Now, things are altogether different. Listen carefully, can you hear it? Yes, it’s a big, big sigh. I feel overwhelmed. Apparently, in the yoga world 2011 I have to buy a Lululemon yoga pant for  $100 (if their marketing department didn’t get hold of you so far, lucky you) and yoga can only be done on one of these so-called eco mats made from biodegradable materials, price tag  £65. I don’t understand – because there’s biodegradable mats available now, I have to throw out my old, non-biodegradable mat? So we’ve spent around  $200 so far and we didn’t even look at covering our upper bodies…oh, and apparently you now need “sox” to do yoga, but that’s an altogether different topic…

“But wait”, I hear you saying, “you can just wear an old t-shirt and any kind of loose pant, right”? Theoretically, you’re correct. In the real world, you’re not. I really encourage you, try it out. Go to one of these places offering 200 classes a week with 50 teachers on their payroll. Yoga is making a hell of a lot of money, it’s big business. And as in any other corporate context, there’s a dress code. It might not look like on first sight, but check again.

According to Yoga Journal’s most recent Yoga in America survey, American yogis are spending $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products, almost double the amount in the previous survey, completed in 2004. You have to digest that. These are only American yogis! There’s a huge market out there and with yoga being a fairly recent phenomenon in the West, there have been business savvy companies who popped up in no time to satisfy this market. (Here’s a post about Lululemon’s mind-boggling sales record:

Big yoga class in Times Square

Image by a_sorense via Flickr

Yoga is for the well dressed, the flexible, young and beautiful who have lots of money to spend. Oh, did I mention that you have to be a size 6 and a veggie, too? Sorry, of course I’m just rubbing it in, but come on, try showing up with your worn out t-shirt and you’ll see – this yoga class won’t make you feel any good.

The best advice my teacher gave me was: “Teach every one, not just the young and skinny ones wearing lots of lycra”. We come in different shapes and sizes. Yoga is for all of us.

Categories: Controversial

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