What will the [Westernized] yoga of the future look like?

Probably not robots in Lululemon Wunder Under Crops.  Just think how C3PO would put my imperfect human endurance to shame in a side-plank.

I dare not question how yogic traditions might evolve within my lifetime–a mere blip in a tradition going back thousands of years. But I live in America, and millions of my fellow country-men and -women have taken up the mat and begun to study the yamas and the niyamas. I am curious how our Western culture, inseparable from the consumerism and over-saturation of social media that fills our news-feeds and daily lives, will continue to impact how we experience yoga.  Being in control is big here.  And probably not going anywhere anytime soon.  As yoga makes an imprint in our lives, we will certainly reciprocate.

One of my teachers often says: “all of the practices of yoga are practices in letting go.”

But how much are we really willing to let go of our expectations?

Do we feel that maintaining some expectations helps us carve more space for yoga in our modern lives?  What expectations do you have when you practice?  

For example: How much does square footage per student, class cost, varied convenience of online scheduling systems, Groupons and student specials factor into your decision of when, where, and how often to practice?  How about a Millennial-generation version of interior design in studio layout–do you have to stand in line down a narrow staircase just to get spot?  Is the studio clean enough?  Does it sell bottled water, VitaCoco, and rent mats you don’t worry about getting a foot fungus from?  Are there enough blocks, and will you get a splinter from the old floors?  Mirrors or not?  Those are just a small sampling of questions yoga studio owners must consider when they think about their clients.  A yoga studio won’t keep its doors open without a solid and calculated business foundation, which sometimes feels so out of sync with the foundations of yoga.

And studio culture and business is just a small part of it.  There’s the designer performance-enhancing exercise gear.  There’s the various schools and all our favorite yogalebrities.

Digitized yoga is already thriving.  There’s the DVDs, the magazines, the online classes, the Kino videos.  The apps, the e-books and the blogs.  The tweets about workshops and Instagram snapshots capturing our most inspiring pincha.  Which is amazing, because more people are learning about yoga.  Some of it is helpful knowledge, disseminated to aid our self-study; some of it is ego (look at my amazing handstand I can do on the side of a bridge); some of it is brand-building (yoga teachers all have to eat and pay rent, so we learn how to play the game to pursue our passion).  Almost all of it is part of our path to self-discovery–we simply translate it into the languages we already use and know, feeling it is natural to speak to a larger audience, or to watch, listen and learn through the methods we explore everything else.

If we are going to embrace yoga within our culture (because the argument that “yogified” westerners aren’t practicing “real yoga” doesn’t really make the world a better place, does it, so maybe let’s get past that?) how should we do it? America is where we are: here, now.

How do we stay true to our present reality without loosing sight of the search for our true nature?


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