Cooperating with Corporate Yoga. ~ Lachrista Greco

Via on Dec 9, 2010

The “Business” of Yoga.

From Lachrista Greco of Rebel Grrrl Italiana.

I have been doing Power Yoga Teacher Training for the past two and a half months.

It has been an amazing experience, and I just recently finished. I completed the training through a corporation, and while I love this particular place and its many amazing teachers, it has been difficult negotiating my feelings regarding “corporate” yoga with my desire to keep the traditional, unmaterialistic viewpoint that is yoga’s foundation.

photo courtesy Elie Zananiri

First, I should say that, yes, I understand yoga has become a big business in the Western world. There are thousands of yoga studios all around the U.S. teaching many different styles of the ancient discipline.

I understand that yoga has become more than a “fad.”

My problem is a personal one:

Do I want to further my yogic development by teaching rich, white women who have easy access to it, or do I want to bring yoga to those who can’t easily access it—those who would never take a class, or be able to take a class, had it not been offered to them in a more inclusive way?

I have never wanted to set foot in the corporate world; the non-profit sector has always been my “calling.” I enjoy helping those who are often overlooked. This became more apparent after I received my Master’s Degree in Women’s & Gender Studies. We studied all different types of oppression, and how these oppressions interlock. Not a day went by where we didn’t discuss privilege–what it is, who has it/doesn’t have it, what it means in relation to race, class, ableness, and sex.

I feel myself constantly brought back to the idea of privilege when I attend a yoga class.When I’m at the particular studio I attend, I look around and see mostly white, upper-class (based on their yoga apparel) women who have all the time/money in the world to do yoga. The only reason I have been able to attend yoga (and the training) is because…

…check the rest of the article here.

Lachrista Greco, M.A. is currently co-authoring a book about the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She writes about various issues through an American-Italian feminist lens on her blog. She is also a member of the Feminist Creative Alliance, a Chicago-based arts organization.

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9 Responses to “Cooperating with Corporate Yoga. ~ Lachrista Greco”

  1. Be Scofield says:

    Thanks for the post. It raises questions for me about serving with yoga. These aren't directed at you but rather the general yoga population at large. Why do yoga teachers assume that yoga is needed or even wanted by poor people, people of color or other marginalized groups not currently engaged in yoga? Is this based on actual engagement in communities or the assumption that yoga is a universal need? Do poor people need Pilates? How does the urge to serve through yoga feed into an often white liberal middle class identity that reinforces hierarchy and separation? Is some sort of diversity/anti-oppression understanding a good idea before doing this kind of work? How can the yoga mat actually keep yoga teachers distant from the true needs of a community? Are there ways to teach yoga to rich white women while still being subversive and introducing issues of race, class and gender? If the goal is to address needs of a specific community is yoga the most effective dimension to address pressing issues of injustice? Or could that time be better spent with that community? If the yoga teacher is engaged in teaching a community because of justice issues, will s/he be able to see how yoga practice may mean standing in solidarity with group members when needed? Does s/he know what being an ally means?

    I don't raise any of these questions to stop yoga teachers from offering yoga in ways that are more accessible. And of course there are lots of variables and contexts to the questions I raise above. But I just want people to reflect on these types of questions before using yoga in a way to address issues of justice. – Be Scofield

  2. Tamar says:

    As a yoga teacher and student, my teachers instructed me to serve everyone, viewing every student as a holy being, no matter their background. Everyone who is interested in yoga and enlightenment should have access to it, whether poor or rich.

    I do think that corporate yoga can be a great service, if you look at it that way. Imagine that you might help to calm and steady the minds of people in positions of power and potential decision makers. Perhaps they will be influenced by your yoga class to be kinder, more compassionate, more generous. In the end, this state of mind benefits everyone. Creating separation between rich and poor does not.

    Being rich does not automatically equal a life of happiness and peace of mind. Neither does working at a corporate job.
    Tamar Samir
    Jivamukti Yoga Teacher http://www.navanyc.com

  3. I am not sure why you linked to my post when you talk about privileged white women in a rather condescending tone, I guess probably cause you do not really know me at all, I came from Argentina with nothing and paid my way to get into college while working very long hours in NYC… But that is beyond the point, what I mean is I find your judgement harsh and uncalled for

  4. Lachrista says:

    @Claudia, I never linked to your post… and I'm sorry you feel that way. I am specifically talking about certain individuals that I *do* know their circumstance. This post has nothing to do with you personally. It is from my own experience.

  5. Lachrista, that is strange because earlier on there was a link there, and, in my post is still shows it as a "trackback" I see that you have removed the link now.

  6. Lachrista says:

    @Claudia– "trackbacks" happen automatically on posts… I didn't link to your post. Sorry :)

  7. Hmmm, in that case it is very strange because last night there was a link on one of your paragraphs, I am not doubting you anymore, I just guess it is something to keep an eye on for the future, I will too. The thing is that trackbacsk do happen automatically like you say, but only when there is a link, which there was on the paragraph I copied below which comes from my post…

    Cooperating With Corporate Yoga. | elephant journal
    [...] I look around and see mostly white, upper-class (based on their yoga apparel) women who have all the time/money in the world to do yoga. The only reason I have been able to attend yoga (and the training) is [

  8. [...] as the esoteric practice of this ancient tradition continues to be bought and sold by new age corporate yoga moguls, do we run the risk of throwing out the baby with the bath [...]

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