Once upon a time, there were people dedicated to studying the ancient art and science of yoga as an intelligent path to liberating the mind and cultivating a sense of Oneness with All Things (aka Enlightenment).
But that was before yoga was introduced to the West, around 1893 by Swami Vivekananda. And much like the legendary meeting between Bambi and Godzilla, Yoga encountered Capitalism and all hell broke loose.
Since that first teaching a short 120 years ago, the enthusiastic embrace of yoga in the West has birthed a six billion dollar annual industry.
The “Mad Men” discovered that yoga sells and have wasted no time in hijacking the practice to promote everything from financial institutions (geeky Sun Life sales reps try to rename a yoga class Sun Life Salutations) to air fresheners (women spill into a girlfriend’s house, roll out their mats and she “plugs into her karma” (!) with a Glade plug-in which is hilariously ironic since most yoga studios strongly stipulate no scents or perfumes in class).
The Corporate Suits salivate for the yogi consumer who has a shiny college education to go along with a sweet median yearly income of $85,000*. (*Statistics straight from this www.WallStreetYoga.com which is brought to you by Hedge Fund Live! Seriously.)
All this financial success and pop culture prominence has inspired an array of dubious products to separate the yogi from her dollar.
Some favorite quirky merchandise: yogi sox with individual toes and sticky dots on the soles ensuring a non-slip practice and whose print campaign was the center of a ginormous brouhaha due to artsy photos of a naked yogini performing poses wearing only her yogi sox; the wrist-saver cuff that velcros to your arm for sturdier arm balancings; Yogapaws mini-mats strap to hands and feet for the traveling yogi.
The Big New Thing is custom yoga mats of your own design. (In a particularly heartwarming moment of afternoon television, Jennifer Aniston gifted Oprah a custom mat featuring a family portrait of her dogs and Oprah damn near cried.)
On your next free day in LA, you can get your groove on at Yoga Booty Ballet class and afterwards enjoy an ice-cold can of Yoga Bunny Detox (also known as Liquid Psychiatry.) If you’re feeling frisky afterwards, there’s Steamy Hot Yoga, a website featuring women in bikinis performing inexplicable hip and chest openers while chanting to the camera, “Steamy… hot… yoga…”
So after 18 years of teaching, I’ve decided it’s time for me to infiltrate the retail yoga community.
I know that feeling safe and protected is essential for any yogi’s practice to evolve. Safety first, right? Right! So get your credit card and consider this latest yogic innovation:
Tired of slamming your head to the floor in yoga practice?
Had it with those unsightly forehead goose eggs that can follow a challenging arm-balance class? Knock your noggin in Peacock Pose? No more cracked cranium in Handstand, ever!
Introducing the Latest Offering from the Stupid Yoga Prop Collection: Yogashanan’s YogaHelmet.
Yogis! Protect your sacred skull and its precious contents! Ergonomically designed by vegan engineers, the YogaHelmet is constructed from free-trade sustainable organic fiberglass with a zero carbon footprint. (Surely it’s needless to mention that no animals were injured in the manufacturing of this helmet.)
Optional giant suction cup accessory provides a firm support for headstand.
Custom designs available: colorize sections of the helmet to reflect which portions of the brain light up during meditation; invoke a landscape of wild monkeys jumping through trees (your monkey mind at work); or leave it plain to symbolize the classic state of emptiness. Or a picture of your dog.
Order today and get absolutely free the distinctive Pratyahara Pulldown Visor for your “withdrawal of the senses” practice—an indispensable aid in quieting that screeching harpy in your head. Simply pull down the vision-blocking visor, mute the built-in earbuds, insert the taste-killing tongue depressor and plug up those distracting nostrils.
The YogaHelmet makes your Pratyahara practice a snap!
Call now and receive absolutely at half-price an autographed copy of Yogashanan’s astounding book, Stumbling Towards Enlightenment: AYoga 101 Collection. Now what would you pay?
Jen called yesterday to place a custom order for Oprah—I think I’m on to something.
Shanan Harrell is a fusion of Iyengar-based asana instructor blended with a powerful streak of Buddhist warrior and seriously devoted gong player. Shanan has been practicing yoga since 1996 and teaching since 1999. A staff writer for Tehachapi Lifestyle Magazine, Shanan’s book, Stumbling Towards Enlightenment: A Yoga 101 Collection is a compilation of her thoughtful and entertaining columns. Buy it now, buy it often. You can connect with Shanan on Facebook and through her website.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise