Upon learning that I teach yoga, people often tell me that they first tried yoga because Madonna does it, or Sting and Trudie do it, and that their motivation was to shape their bodies into sleek and sinewy silhouettes, like the rock stars have.
While I try to acknowledge such comments instead of dismissing them, they reiterate our susceptibility to these images of physical perfection that pervade our visual landscape.
They may even motivate many of us, in this instance, yoga, in hope of experiencing its mythic, physical benefits, and that toned body. And, with the plethora of yoga DVDs boasting titles such as “Fat Free Yoga” and “Yoga Booty Ballet,” it also becomes evident that yoga entrepreneurs have been quick to profit from our culture’s striving for the physical ideal, stripping Yoga down to callisthenics and feeding our insecurities along the way.
Which begs, the question, has Yoga simply been eclipsed by our material-focused culture? Can this ancient practice maintain deeper philosophical roots in our contemporary landscape of want and desire? In fact, can we experience something like happiness through yoga?