YOGA POP CULTURE
Yoga has become part of our pop culture. Yoga is cool. Yoga is everywhere and has many names attached to it: Yoga core, yoga challenge, yoga blast, yoga burn, yoga slim, yoga butt, yoga brain, etc. ——- names that can draw in a variety of people. Yoga has become a big industry. Yoga studios have marketing departments and teachers have managers and publicists. Some yoga teachers are like rockstars with a whole entourage around them. Yoga Journal has become more flashy and more colorful. The cover always features a pretty girl in a colorful outfit, doing a beautiful and somewhat difficult pose. Yoga is used in commercials to advertise and sell products. However, what is being advertised is the surface, it is the flashy box. The body has become the object of attention, the thing to draw people in. Facebook and Instagram are full of yogis doing selfies and showing off fancy poses. On the plus side, the photos might inspire people to start practicing or attempt poses they never thought they could do. I do think there is a lot of self indulgence in social media….rarely do I see moderate backbends that actually are more effective and beneficial for the average person.
Yes, it is a bit much. The yoga scene has changed a lot since I started practicing 27 years ago. I risk sounding like my father reminiscing about how everything was better when he was young, but it is not all bad and I am thankful that yoga is popular and has become more mainstream. We just need to make sure that we are not in the process of diluting such an amazing tradition. As teachers we can choose how we share one of the oldest spiritual traditions. As students we can carefully choose the best path so that we can reap the many benefits of yoga.
As we mature in our practice, we know that the deeper work goes beyond the body and has to do with self study and how to live in the world. The world is not going to be a better place by yogis practicing more advanced poses and wearing the right yoga pants. Notice if you ever become so obsessed and attached to your physical practice that it brings you grief the day you no longer are able to do certain pose or a particular type of practice. Observe your attachment. As you start to understand the attachment, you might become aware of the space that opens up when you let go of the tight grip.
Yoga can profoundly change your life. It is a gradual change. Yoga is ultimately about going beyond the body, calming the mind and connecting with the deepest part of our Self. It is about getting to know who we are and thereby living more authentically in the world. It is about being kind, compassionate, wisely choosing each step, and seeing the interconnectedness of all. I am reminded to stay humble on this path, and when I bow my head and whisper namaste, I am in awe. I am grateful. Yoga is big and it is sacred. It is here to stay. It is beyond cool. Namaste.