Let’s get this out of the way at the outset: There is no right or wrong way to practice yoga. It’s ultimately what you want it to be and achieves what you want it to.
But let’s also be honest: Yoga’s arrival into the mainstream has also come with less-than-beneficial undercurrents.
For many, the practice of yoga has come to mean spending exorbitant amounts of money on classes in upscale studios and outfitting oneself with the latest name-brand apparel. For many besides, it’s also come to mean body shame.
The message that “your body isn’t right for yoga” isn’t just the product of advertisements depicting unattainable ideals and the sight of your classmates striking impossible-looking poses. It comes from on high.
Following last year’s recall of too-sheer yoga pants, Lululemon’s founder and then-CEO, Chip Wilson, told Bloomberg, “Frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for [our pants].” (He resigned soon after the comments.)
This followed a July 2013 post on Lululemon’s Facebook page: “Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12. While we know that doesn't work for everyone and recognize fitness and health come in all shapes and sizes, we've built our business, brand and relationship with our guests on this formula.”
In light of all this, it can seem that the central spiritual elements of yoga have taken a backseat to commercialism and striving for “perfect” bodies.
It’s certainly easy to see yoga simply as a form of exercise. It looks like exercise, it feels like exercise, and it provides all the attendant boons of a dynamic and rigorous workout.
The hard work, though, is in dialing back those familiar patterns to make room for the deeper, longer-lasting blessings yoga brings.
Of course, no one is qualified to tell others what personal practice should amount to. If a “better” body is your goal, go for it. If a yoga studio is your favorite place to pick up dates, so be it.
The following slideshow simply trains the lens on what yoga could be: A means for self-acceptance; for taking a holistic approach to your health; for retaining composure in the face of everyday stress.
Here are 10 tips for tuning out the noise and keeping your yoga practice grounded. Click here to read on…