Enough with the yoga already. Yes, it’s gone beyond mainstream. It’s healthy, calming, good for you and hip. But when McDonalds starts using yoga to push Extra Value Meals, I’m wondering if all that deep breathing has started making people loopy. “Choice brings me inner peace,” says the ads. “I balance my life with the choices that I make,” juxtaposed with images of a stunningly fit and beautiful yogini glimmering in sultry sweat. Well, okay… she’s actually slathered in french fry grease, but at least you can’t blame them for false advertising.
Buzz about Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Yoga DVD has turned some yogi heads into Arda Matsyendrasana meets Linda Blair. Bikram Choudhury has endorsed mayoral candidate Villagarosa and is charging students $1000 to attend his political fundraiser. Yoga has become a $3 billion dollar industry – complete with celebrity endorsements and a rising demand for products and services from mats, blocks, straps, blankets, bags, towels, clothing, books and videos, to beads, bindis, toe rings, netty pots, aromatherapy eye pillows, oils, crystals and teas. These days, everyone seems to be either selling yoga or drawing on yoga to sell something else.
Some may find all of this a little hypocritical – since yoga is supposed to be about selflessness and the spirit of offering (in addition to hot bodies, of course). Does rampant commercialism of yoga undermine the ideals it represents?
Those of us who have been blessed with yoga in our lives know that beyond improvements in physical well being – the truths and lessons contained in the practice are easily transferable beyond the mat. As yoga infuses itself into modern culture, commercializing yoga might actually help to motivate more people to check it out who may not have otherwise.
So, McDonalds is spending millions of dollars in advertising spreading the word of yoga – bringing exposure to an amazing practice that can improve many people’s lives. Maybe we can all feel less guilty next time we have a craving for a “May All Beings be Happy Meal.” (comes with a free Yoga Yenta action figure, while supplies last.)
Om Shanti & Infinite gratitude,