It is safe to say that Yoga has become extremely popular, wide spread and respected in our western culture. Big cities have a studio on every block; gyms, hospitals, corporate offices, schools and even prisons offer yoga as an opportunity for physical fitness, healing or rehabilitation. Yoga books and videos are available at our disposal. It’s everywhere. The west has been catching on to the power of Yoga & that’s amazing!
BUT .. There are a lot of arguments in the yoga world about the commodification and commercialization of Yoga. Is this a positive or negative attribute to our community? Is the true meaning of Yoga getting lost in translation? Or is this mass spread still beneficial for people to interpret and invite Yoga into their lives in any way? This spiritual practice of the East has been translated, reformed, and reborn in our western culture. In a lot of ways that means using Yoga to make a profit. It is hard to keep up with all the yoga clothing brands, different mat styles, essential oil companies, different prop brands, yogic jewelry, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these things are great in moderation (Brahmacharya!!) and even have the potential to heighten your yoga practice but it is worthwhile to acknowledge that people have been practicing Yoga in the east for a very long time without any of these luxuries.
One thing that I’ve noticed from teaching yoga and talking to friends who have taken yoga classes is that many people say and do things in yoga classes without really knowing why they are doing them. One perfect example is saying ‘Namaste’ at the end of class.
In yogic philosophy, the Sanskrit word ‘Namaste’ has a profound meaning. It is not just something we say to let you know that the yoga class is over. Namaste is a heart felt, deep, meaningful word that emphasizes connection and oneness. Namaste not only means ‘I Bow To You’ but also ‘I am you’.
“I honor you as you are a reflection of me.”
“The light within me honors the light within you as it is a reflection of the light within me.”
This is yoga; a path to oneness. It grants us access into this realm of compassion, empathy, understanding, unity and genuine connection. When we recognize that we are everything and everything is within us, our entire perspective of reality changes. Saying ‘Namaste’ is recognition of this divine unity that exists in all beings.
I think it is important as we continue to translate and watch yoga evolve that we ask questions. Yoga is a practice of integrity and if we don’t understand or know why we are doing something, we should ask for clarity. The practice of Yoga is sacred and should be cared for with grace and reverence. This is what will keep Yoga from being more than just a trend. In order to emphasize the transformative power of Yoga it is essential to know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. There is nothing wrong with buying or tapping into the more commercial side of yoga. BUT we must remember that intention is everything. If we can bring even more intention into the yoga classes of the west I believe it will remain a popular and perhaps even necessary part of our culture for a very long time.
And so I say from the bottom of my heart.
And thank you for reading.