Namaste, classmates

When I first began my case study I was under the impression yoga was an exercise with a spiritual component.  In the various classes I have taken, I always thought of the meditation, which is typically in the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of class as a “warm-up.”  However, the original definition of yoga is “union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.”  In the traditional Indian sense the ultimate goal of yoga was to reach the highest level of meditation, the poses (asanas) were meant to help achieve this goal through deep relaxation of the muscles and body.  Yet, modern yoga in the U.S. has lost this aspect of yoga.  While I always leave yoga class relaxed and stress free (relatively) the main reason I went to class was to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.  I go in my yoga pants, with my yoga mat, and my water bottle that has a cheesy sticker that says, “Namaste, bitches,” amusing, I know.   It is obvious yoga has become a commodity and a billion dollar industry.  As India developed into a capitalist country, Indians took advantage of the Western tourists and turned it into a promising industry.  In the U.S., the yoga industry has exploded due to the popularity of the exercise and the apparel.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, yet it has changed and continues to evolve, a question for the future remains: will the meditation component of yoga disappear completely?  The answer is most likely no; Indians and some Westerners will continue with traditional yoga, however I will stick with my exercise-based yoga classes.  I find meditation extremely difficult and my mind constantly wanders, I am sure it is indescribable experience when one meditates for hours and reaches higher levels of meditation, yet I do not have the time.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why yoga in the U.S. has little to do with meditation, our time-obsessed culture simply wants to exercise and “cool-down” with some relaxing breathing.  Either way, it is evident globalization has affected even the most ancient of practices.


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