Yoga, Inc.?

Hindu ascetic

People are increasingly attracted to yoga for stress relief, fitness, strength and flexibility, and improving overall health and wellbeing. This phenomenal growth means there is a huge demand to be capitalized upon. It’s no surprise then that people are increasingly becoming wary of “yoga capitalists” who are latching on to the trend as a profit-making scheme.

John Philp’s 2007 documentary Yoga Inc. highlights the spiritual hypocrisy of yoga capitalism: “The industry is dressed up in pseudo-religious robes but it’s just a big money-making venture for a lot of people … The goal of yoga, after all, is detachment and enlightenment. Much in today’s yoga scene seems designed to enlighten our wallets and detach us from our savings. And that’s hypocritical.”

So how should we guide ourselves in order to avoid the hypocrisy? How do we keep yoga from becoming yet another attachment, another shiny new object of self-gratification?

As MD of London-based Triyoga studios, Jonathan Saffin may appear to be on the side of the capitalist “enemy”, but I think he’s got the simplest answer.

It’s a commercial reality that where there is demand, that demand must be met. In order to cater to our demand for yoga, yoga centres and the like need to succeed financially. “There’s nothing wrong with it … [you] just need integrity,” says Saffin.

And that’s it – all we need to be asking ourselves is about ourselves: why do we choose to do what we do? Are our own choices conscious and present?

It doesn’t matter what they, the industry, the Man, is trying to do with deceptively manipulative marketing and suchlike. We can look closely at our own lives, our own thoughts, our personal purchasing decisions, dietary habits – the lot. If we approach it all with full awareness, integrity and honesty, I think we’ll see clearly through this cloudy atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust and stop overthinking ourselves into unnecessary conflict.


(Photo credit: HinduWebsite)