Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yoga-nomics: Is Yoga a business or a practice?

If you come to Yoga through a local studio or yoga class where you do the physical practice, welcome! You've begun to follow a tradition that is very old, revered and spiritual.

There is the anecdote about a group of people in a dark room trying to identify an elephant by each one feeling different parts. That's kind of like what this question is about: practice or business. When you come into Yoga through the business of teachers, classes and studios, which are business oriented, it might be evident that is what Yoga is. Not really. That's just the current and popular face of Yoga.

Yoga is vast. It has survived for thousands of years by integrating practices and philosophies and, as has been talked about here before, has no "college of yogi's" directing it. One of the key elements of all of this has been to encourage newcomers to enter in and do Yoga. It seems to have worked well over the years.

Right now, in America and the western world, Yoga is synonymous with asana; that is the physical practice, one of the eight limbs of Yoga practice. Asana lends itself very well to being commoditized and sold in classes. This is the business of Yoga today. Selling of the meditation limbs has been done before, as in the popularity of Transcendental Meditation many years ago. But the real money-maker is in asana. Oh, and the clothes and stuff you need to do it!

If you are attracted to Yoga, any part or 'limb', simply do it. I've learned over the years that Yoga has a power to attract and illumine people. All by itself. So however you enter, however you practice, Yoga will invite you to more, and perhaps deeper practices.

The nature of those deeper practices is not so mysterious. Many old, sacred texts lay them out so that they can be explored. If that interests you, start by asking your present asana teacher. If they don't know, ask who they can refer you to that can answer your questions.

So, to answer the question directly, in my opinion and experience Yoga is not a business. In fact, the business gets in the way. Yoga teachers that own studios find that they have less time for practice because the business demands attention. It is inevitable. There are business people doing Yoga and I trust the Power of Yoga will transform them. To some degree. In time.

To see some other takes on question this visit: Yoganomics™