“Yoga develops all five layers, not merely just the physiological layer as in Western disciplines.”- BKS Iyengar
In 2012, The Yoga Journal conducted a survey that found the top five reasons that respondents started yoga were for: flexibility (78.3 percent), general conditioning (62.2 percent), stress relief (59.6 percent), improve overall health (58.5 percent) and physical fitness (55.1 percent). Unfortunately, the study did not seek to find what percentage of people are pursuing all aspects of yoga not just the physical. Since coming to the west, yoga has become very commercialized, leading to the the popularization of styles such as Ashtanga (there’s a debate on whether it was developed for young boys or not, read about it here) and Bikram (founded by an egotistical self-proclaimed guru who’s been a very bad boy, read an article on him here). In an attempt to get people to consider the benefits of the other aspects of yoga, and the fact that you do not have to blindly follow a “guru” to find inner peace, here are four videos that make fun of the westernization of yoga, but have a message we should all think about.
1. F*ck That: A Guided Meditation
This guided meditation, while hilarious, is actually a decent guided meditation. It encourages you to let go of negative thoughts and feelings while using explicit language that is so ingrained in our Western culture.
2. If Gandi Took a Yoga Class
While hilarious, this video shows how the popular classes, teachers, and studios aren’t true yogis in the eastern sense, and that the commercialization of yoga can be disrespectful. Some Western practitioners pretend they understand all of what yoga encompasses, but in a very superficial manner.
3. How to be Ultra Spiritual with JP Spears
This video is amazing! JP Spears tends to hit the nail on the head when it comes to the superficial practice of yoga in the West. A perfect video to watch after #3, he calls out those who are fake and have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to the spirituality of yoga.
4. Kumare Documentary
The first time I saw this movie was at Sewall House Yoga Retreat, the teacher trainees had to watch it as part of their course and while there are parts of the movie that are hilarious and what he does can hit a nerve with some, the message is incredible. With this one I’m not going to tell you what the entire purpose of Vikram Gandhi’s transformation into a “guru” is, but if you believe that what he did was the worst thing in the world, then you missed the whole point. Just remember, he continuously tells his followers that he’s a fake, he’s not who he says he is, etc. and never asks for money or material things in return for his teachings.
While I don’t agree with the commercialization of the ancient practice of yoga, sometimes I can’t just help myself (case in point my Instagram, Facebook, and even this blog). The point of this post is to remind myself and anyone who reads this to not unconsciously practice the asanas, but truly think about what living yoga means and maybe just maybe show it would be a good idea to learn a little of the history and spirituality of this wonderful thing we call yoga.
Love and light,