A few days ago, I read this article in Elephant Journal by an author whose distaste for the West’s cultural appropriation of yoga led to a decision to largely walk away from the yoga scene. The author points to the fact that, in many American yoga studios, classes are dominated by affluent white women who have little appreciation for the cultural and spiritual foundations of yoga.
I completely agree with that assertion. However, I feel that, as with so many areas of life, yoga is what we make of it. It is incredibly frustrating to watch the yuppies with their faces done up for a workout and their fancy Lululemon outfits trying to act spiritual in a yoga studio. But if we approach our own practices from a more authentic place – rather than being preoccupied with criticizing the others in the class – we can still benefit greatly.
What’s more, there are many honest yoga studios around the nation that are trying to preserve the authenticity of yoga. Perhaps it is a matter of looking beyond the suburbs. In my experience, I’ve found that studios in more urban settings, where there is more cultural diversity, tend to be far less pretentious than their suburban counterparts. So what we take away from a yoga practice really depends just as much upon the attitudes with which we approach it, as it does upon the person on the next mat.