Why I Lost Interest in Yoga
There are a lot of us out there that are trying to be better: feel better, look better, fit in better, get a better job, have better relationships. And, for me, that’s where yoga came in over fourteen years ago.
Back then a friend said I had to try yoga to help me manage my high stress level from a deadline-driven job. That started me on a path moving from yoga at the gym, to yoga studios, to yoga schools, and even to ashrams. I ultimately got certified to teach yoga and taught yoga for three years.
During my yoga studies, I was taught that life’s answers are inside of me and divinity lies in myself and others. And to remember that yoga means union of mind, body and spirit. I finally saw the divine in me auspiciously on International Yoga Day 2017. Something happened that day in that class at that studio I can’t quite articulate but I knew that I didn’t need an external yoga class to help me become better anymore.
I lost interest in yoga — or more specifically, what I knew was yoga. How American pop culture defines yoga is complex and don’t get me wrong, I have seen yoga and yoga therapy do wonders for people and I salute those who are doing this work. For me, there are three main areas that I struggled with:
Fitness: While every class is different, the focus on yoga for fitness I found limits what yoga is intended to be. The “yoga body” is still a thing and the mantra “know your limits” while stated from time to time in class is overridden by competitive behavior. In addition, improperly doing yoga poses can limit mobility and cause injury for both students and teachers.
Objectification: 83% of yoga practioners are women. The superficial nature and sexualization of what a woman who does yoga is supposed to be on social media, in studios, and even once during a job interview also had long disturbed me. Their perceptions required more effort on my part to explain myself and choices. Further, why yoga has morphed into a staple for women in American popular culture is something that offers further discussion.
Commercialization: Yoga is a $27 billion dollar industry and it’s hard to know what yoga really is or isn’t. But one thing for sure is that yoga typically is not free. With all this spend, it might be interesting to study further how has yoga positively impacted American society as a whole during the recent past.
In my opinion, the Americanization of yoga along with the intersection of spirituality and capitalism has created a dynamic that is fueled by an emotionally unfulfilled society. My yoga studies did help me arrive at a place of greater self-acceptance and clarity. I found the answers within myself to know that the American yoga lifestyle is one that I’m no longer interested in pursuing.