From time to time, I question whether the yoga community is here for a while or here to stay. With the influx of yoga products- pants, wheels, mats, sports bras & crystals galore it makes me wonder what this industry is coming to. In fact, some are worried that yoga is becoming a sport for the wealthy versus a spiritual practice for all.
Anyone who has a membership to a yoga studio knows that its a “luxury” because its much more expensive than a gym membership for an asana practice. Then there are the yoga clothes, and products that each studio sells along with workshops and special classes. Most people cannot afford a $100 membership to a yoga studio.
According to the Huffington Post, the amount spent in the United States on yoga classes, equipment, clothing, and accessories has risen from $10 billion to $16 billion. The total economic impact of the US yoga industry is estimated to be $27 billion annually. Good news for yoga teachers, studio owners and yoga companies, but is this bad news for the practice of yoga?
I like to take a more optimistic view of the matter by saying that any growth in the yoga industry is good growth. The fact that more people are becoming interested in trying yoga is a shift in the right direction.
However, I will play devil’s advocate for a moment and add this. When I tell someone in conversation that I am a yoga teacher and they tell me they want to try yoga I always rebuttal with the question, why? More often then not this question seems to trump people.
People “want to try yoga” but they do not have any intention behind their desires. Look, I tried my first yoga class as a freshman in college and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into either. But as a teacher with over four years of experience, I believe it is part of my responsibility to make sure people are into yoga for the right reasons.
If the intention is “too become more flexible” or “to lose weight” then I suggest you try a flexibility class or an aerobics class. I don’t say this to be harsh or snobbish but if you’re heart is not in it for the right reasons, then you’re simply following a trend.
Sure the physical practice of yoga has the benefits of toning your body and tightening the core, but this practice is so much bigger than that. Yoga is the uncovering of who you are, your highest self and the person you were meant to be in the physical world.
The physical branch of yoga or practice of asana is only one of many branches of the practice. There are 8 limbs of the practice that include…
- YAMA – Restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows.
- NIYAMA – Positive duties or observances.
- DHARANA – Focused concentration.
- DHYANA – Meditative absorption.
- PRATYAHARA – Sense withdrawal..
- PRANAYAMA- Breath Work.
- SAMADHI – Bliss or enlightenment
- ASANA – Posture.
Yoga means union, and it is the union of the mind, the body and the spirit. It unites your physical being with your spiritual being so that you can uncover and bring out your highest self.
Then there are classes like, “Beer Yoga”, “Goat Yoga” and “Yogalates” that are on the fine line of yoga and cultural appropriation. Can a class truly be called yoga even if the intention is not true to the tenets of the practice? It’s true that these classes are trendy, popular and sell easily. This is good news for yoga teachers and studio owners everywhere, but it may not be true for spreading of yoga in its true form.
The yoga industry is on an upward spike in terms of class attendance and yoga products. So is yoga a trend or is it here to say? It’s here to stay if you ask me, but only time will tell. As for now, let’s enjoy the spread of this practice and hope that it is being spread for the right reasons and not just as the hottest trend in fitness.