As many of you know, I have been doing Power Yoga Teacher Training for the past 2.5 months. It has been an amazing experience, and just recently finished. I completed the training through a corporation, and while I love this particular place and its many amazing teachers, it has been difficult negotiating my feelings of "corporate" yoga with my desire to keep the traditional, unmaterialistic viewpoint that is yoga's foundation. First, I should say that, yes, I understand yoga has become a big business in the Western world. There are thousands of yoga studios all around the U.S. teaching many different styles of the ancient discipline. I understand that yoga has become more than a "fad." My problem is a personal one... do I want to further my yogic development by teaching rich, white women who have easy access to it, or do I want to bring yoga to those who can't easily access it--those who would never take a class, or be able to take a class, had it not been offered to them in a more inclusive way?
I have never wanted to set foot in the corporate world; the non-profit sector has always been my "calling." I enjoy helping those who are often overlooked. This became more apparent after I received my Master's Degree in Women's & Gender Studies. We studied all different types of oppression, and how these oppressions interlock. Not a day went by where we didn't discuss privilege--what it is, who has it/doesn't have it, what it means in relation to race, class, ableness, and sex.
I feel myself constantly brought back to the idea of privilege when I attend a yoga class. When I'm at the particular studio I attend, I look around and see mostly white, upper-class (based on their yoga apparel) women who have all the time/money in the world to do yoga. The only reason I have been able to attend yoga (and the training) is because I have a work study position at one of the studios where I clean once a week. This allows me free yoga, and half price on all trainings/workshops). It's great that yoga has become such a big thing, but yoga as a corporation has seemingly removed spirituality from the equation. This is not okay.
Yes, we want people to do yoga and not be scared off by the spiritual aspect of it, but is our cause about making money, or actually being invested in people's physical/spiritual growth? Sure, we shouldn't shove spirituality down someone's throat, but we also can't pretend yoga is something it's not. We can't pretend there is no aspect of spirituality. We can't pretend that yoga is for everybody--many people will never get into it. We need to be okay with this.
I truly want to bring yoga to the people--but I don't want to do this by forcing it into something it's not.