Yoga is a form of behavior that I enjoy. You can do it anytime, anywhere! Even while you’re reading this. Go ahead, yoga your hips! Hips down, lumbar up, stomach in, shoulder blades back, roll your upper arms outward, and there, you’ve got it!
The spirit of yoga is one of liberation; it is something that you can own in its entirety, a way of thinking that liberates you from the many things that trap us. Many think we have to run or push weights like crazy people – you don’t. They think we have to follow crazy health-compromising diets – you don’t. The others think they have to spend lots of money and do what everyone else is doing in order to lead a high quality life – you don’t.
But there are many yoga studios and companies out there that have taken the spirit of yoga and shaped them to their own ends. There’s a studio in my city where you ‘have’ to go to be seen. You have to wear the right clothes, and you only hang with the right people. There’s another where the rooms are always hot, and the attractive male teachers have to take their shirts off so you can see their tattoos. A yoga brand of studios has trademarked their super-hot practice sequence. And there are even clothing companies carving out a yoga niche – if you aren’t wearing their shirts, you aren’t a true yogi!
As a born and bred capitalist, I can see the good in all this. Such marketing, both strategic and tactical, shows that this is a large enough market that it merits aggressive attention. It may also help to spread the word about yoga, which in itself should be a good thing.
But yoga is more a mental state than a form of exercise. At its very foundation, yoga is being still, listening to your own body, and BREATHING. Yes, yoga is breathing. You practice breathing. It sounds crazy, but there it is. Your lungs, your diaphragm, throat, all those bits are important to our health but usually forgotten. Yoga, first and foremost, focuses on breath!
So, the next time you buy the proper clothes to go to a yoga class, or rush to be seen with the right people, do yourself a favor. Think about what those things mean to the world, and what possible other good things you could do with that money, or your time. Then close your eyes, and do what’s right.