When did having a yoga class in a boutique or tea house or any other retail space become a good way to market a business? What does it say about that business? Is it cool? Hip? Chic? Interesting? Relevant? What does it say about us? What is this need to identify with anything that uses yoga as a catalyst for more sales? Has yoga become a label to identify ourselves with those other cool, relevant people? Has it become exclusive in the way that if you don’t do yoga then we don’t want you around? Has “YOGA” become so vapid in the eyes of those who do it that it’s only use is to help promote, sell, or trend? Has yoga become just another item on the list of must-haves at the party of the year?
The attachment to the physical aspect of yoga (asana) without the graciousness of the spiritual aspect has led those who choose to believe it, marginalize yoga to the place of workout, the fountain of youth, and just another thing to help you relax at the spa. All fine benefits of yoga, yes, but not the raison-d’etre. Bringing yoga to our ego-ic level and understanding, lessens its impact on our organism, our being, our soul. Projecting onto yoga all the same stuff of ego-identity that drive some to have face lifts, be the first to do, to have something, to brag, undermines yoga’s essential and primary benefit: union with the Beloved, the Divine Heart, God, the energy of the cosmos. However you like to “name” it, it is all that and more. (As Ramana Maharshi says, to even name it, you have lost your connection to it.) All the stuff that yoga asks you to shed (boosting, grasping, attaching, hating) is actually amplified by the need to make it a part of who you think you are…all the adjectives: good, nice, chill, spiritual, cool, hip, relevant, interesting.
What if you not all that – or rather, what if you felt you weren’t that? How hard is it to maintain a facade, or to try to prove that you are all that? How hard is it to be someone you actually think you’re not? With the words, “I-do-yoga” come many reactions. There’s a definite stigma: bad or good. Some of us let other’s reactions dictate what we do. It used to be that I never talked openly about my practice or my teaching in front of my family because of all the jokes about it. Whatever the reaction is, do you try to prove something – like, no we’re not a bunch of hippies…? Or, no I can express an opinion strongly and still be a yogini(yogi)? Or, yes I do like to have fun on my days off…?
All this ‘trying to be’ – a good, nice, chill “spiritual” student or teacher undermines the work that is Yoga. Being REAL is harder than it looks. It’s even harder when Yoga no longer looks, tastes, smells like it’s former self, but is reduced to being of service to the ego-ic whims of clothing store owners and media hounds.
Yoga is NOT any of it.
Haha – but that publicly traded yoga wear corp (I even dislike mentioning the name because I don’t want to market them) would have you thinking otherwise. This company along with a few others (a magazine, and a yoga studio brand) have helped shape the way in which yoga is seen, how we interact with it. Yoga, for a lot of people, has become just another commodity to exploit like anything that trends in social media: flavor of the moment. Look what they’ve started. And by a guy (the owner) who says he doesn’t do yoga. What a great little marketer. He’s helped shape a generation of displayers: Look at what I can do; at what I’ve got; at who I know…or I’ve seen (rather).
Is this really the way you want to experience yoga?
Yoga asks you to be the antithesis of a good little marketer. To do without thought of reward. To give without thought of recompense. The lesson is to learn to shake this illusion (maya) of the material world and what you need from it…happiness, love, connection, comfort, prestige. It’s all there, you’ve already got it all. But if yoga is used and not practiced then it can never bring you into the light of day and help shed the doubt that looms over us like a darkening cloud.
The emptiness is always there even if the material world seems to give you everything…you have become a slave to that idea…and this idea will keep your true self hidden until it is shattered by the reality of who you truly are in the moment of your greatest need. Ask anyone who is encountering their own mortality!
It’s a hard lesson to learn. But I will gladly teach anyone willing to go there! Are you? Willing I mean…