Monday, May 10, 2010


Whenever I travel, I visit yoga studios. I love trying new classes and teachers. Since I don't live on an Ashram, I am aware of the growing commercialization of yoga and the disconnect between its spiritual roots and the Westernized adoption of the asanas or physical practice of yoga. Some would say bastardization.

A perfect example of this is Les Mills Body Flow class--a combination of pilates, yoga and tai-chi. (This guy's other group fitness offerings include Body Attack, Body Pump and Body Combat--body warfare and yoga? I can self-inflict violence on my body? Sign me right up!) Participants can experience the physical exercises without having to worry themselves about any mind-body connection or developing inner awareness. They don't have to figure out how their emotional stressors manifest into pain and life-threatening disease. They can just ignore them. Don't get me wrong, this type of exercise appeals to many people. But to some who might want a more holistic approach, they will be disappointed.

In case you want to read some other viewpoints, a couple of New York Times articles offer some interesting arguments. When Chocolate and Chakras Collide I would like to point out that I'm not a yoga purist or nazi yoga enforcer. I think chocolate should collide with my chakras on a regular basis. But only if it's dark chocolate.

A Yoga Manifesto I wish I had re-read this before my last trip. The writer points a finger at Pure Yoga, citing their high drop-in prices, inititation fees and monthly fees. Back to my New York narrative. Last week I was staying with a friend on the Upper East Side. I'm not sure why I thought I should STAY on the east side to take my yoga class, but that's what I did. I went to Pure Yoga and paid $25 for a 75 minute yoga class. When I balked at the outrageous price, the receptionist in a most unyoga like voice, said This is the UPPER EAST SIDE. We aren't even the MOST expensive studio.

My writer teacher training has taught me to vigilantly identify logical fallacies in arguments. I'm dumbfounded that the front desk yoga girl thinks this passes for an excuse.

My other complaint was the loud noises outside the studio. I concede that the teacher was good, however I didn't appreciate having to listen to a crying baby outside the yoga studio door. Now I'm pretty good at tuning out distractions. I mean I do have a husband and children. However, I JUST PAID $25 TO LISTEN TO A BABY CRY! I'm trying to de-stress and focus on compassion, grace and mercy--my intentions for the practice. (I know--that's a pretty tall order). I do feel sorry for the mother of that crying baby. I think that mother deserves to have some time to do yoga. BUT SHE CAN'T JUST LET THE BABY CRY WHILE 20 OTHER STRESSED OUT SOULS WHO SPENT THEIR LAST DIME ON A YOGA CLASS ARE TRYING TO PRACTICE.

I find out from the unyogic front desk girl that there is a kids' yoga class next door to mine. Mind you, she doesn't tell me this before I pay my $25. When I asked for a partial refund, she snidely said We don't give refunds. You finished the class. So much for customer satisfaction. PURE YOGA indeed.
(image from yoga for the people studio--nytimes yoga manifesto article linked in blog)

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