March 31, 2015

Has Yoga Become Alienating? 


Look, I love yoga just as much as the next Lululemon wearing woman, but I am having a hard time feeling like there is any realness to this thing we have all deemed the yoga community.

I walk into a yoga studio these days and more often than not everyone in the class I am attending is wearing a very expensive spandex outfit and attempting to do the perfect handstand and not mess up their hair at the same time.

Then a teacher walks in, displaying similar behavior and preaching about how yoga is the internalization of our practice and how asana is meant to enhance our inner being all while yelling like a drill sergeant and holding a selfie stick.

This all just seems so contradictory. Have we, as people, lost sight of what yoga really is? Do we just not care? Yoga is a fad, yes, but it is also a meaningful and enriching practice that can last a lifetime.

I have always been a bit of a misfit. I dye my hair crazy colors, have tattoos and piercings, and don’t shave my armpits to make a stand against societal norms. I am a feminist and I am bold in my beliefs, sometimes to my detriment.

I used to feel normal in a yoga class. Yoga used to be full of hippies and smell like patchouli and now it is full of expensive status clothing. I remember when yoga was weird and people thought it was a cult. Now it seems to be one of the most normal activities in every circle of American life.

I am happy that yoga has spread to so many because it truly does have the ability to change lives for the better, but I feel like people are doing it for the Instagram picture instead of the betterment of their lives. I feel like a lot of the reasons that people do anything anymore is for proof on the internet. If it’s not on the internet it never happened…am I right?

To be honest, I stopped attending yoga studios a while ago for this very reason. I, as a yoga practitioner and 200 hour certified yoga instructor, began to feel isolated from the sweaty people in the same room as me. Yoga, for me, was never about flaunting my skills. Yoga is empowering, important, and a great avenue for personal growth and not to mention a killer workout. I used to feel like we were all in this together not to one-up each other. At least we were all in it to look awkwardly at each other while our crotch was in the air.

I feel like people now just come in and stare at themselves in the mirror trying to figure out if their $100 spandex really does make their butt look better. I have learned a bit about the philosophy of yoga and what happened to leaving one’s ego at the door?

I wish everyone would take a step back and a step inward while in a yoga class. I want people to be more aware of those around them. Yoga is supposed to be a safe place for everyone to practice and with the level of narcissism I have experienced within some of the yoga community, it doesn’t always feel safe to me anymore.

My main point in saying any of this is that I wish people would focus less on what they are wearing and how they look in their yoga clothes and spend more time doing good. Imagine donating some of that money spent on expensive name brand yoga clothes to a charity. Imagine a world where instead of coming into a yoga class and staring in the mirror before the teacher begins, we introduce ourselves to our neighbor. Let us reclaim the yoga community for everyone and make it a more inclusive place with less selfie sticks.

Maybe yoga as I remember it is a thing of the past but yoga isn’t going anywhere and we can make it better for the future. This is why I practice—to come to terms with new cultural understandings and move forward. What I really want is for more people to ponder the state of the yoga community and know that we can do better as human beings in all instances, but also, maybe we should try to be a little less superficial.



The Real Reason I Won’t Buy Lululemon.


Author: Jenna Sabatini

Editor: Travis May

Photo: adifansnet/Flickr


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Jenna Sabatini