Yoga in America : From Gurus to Trophy Wives?


This article from all the way back in 2012 discusses the changing landscape around the Ashtanga branch of yoga within America. It discusses how the practice evolved from a small number of guruji from India to, gradually, bigger and bigger venues, more and more students, and with that, an undeniable change. This change trended towards the accessorizing of yoga, taken on by – according to the article- a number of trophy wives and other typical “yuppie” advocates looking for a quick and easy spiritual fix to go with their daily exercise. It discusses the tensions and changes within the community as students of the original guruji slowly begin to branch off- some borrowing select poses to write books detailing ‘fitness’ types of yoga, and others even launching smart phone apps that promise to teach yoga as well. I thought it raised quite a few interesting points that have been addressed here before in one form or another- how religious is yoga? Can middle aged women who are only after strengthening their core and limbering up really be understanding the full ideas behind what they’re practicing ? As the title asks- who is yoga for anyway? In the final paragraphs of the article it states that some of the current teachers and practitioners believe that the changes in this branch of yoga should occur to accommodate the students and what is best for them- but will that leave them with a form of yoga that exists mostly to show other people how spiritual and flexible one is, whilst showing off formfitting exercise wear and monogrammed yoga mats?


About mghartley

An anthropologist of religion (in the making) with a focused interest in East Asia (specifically the mudang of Korea) and an abiding love for folklore and mythology. Student of Korean (and sometimes French and Japanese) with an interest in linguistics and culture.

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