A new book has said that yoga, billed as the ultimate antidote to life, is losing its essence because it is getting commercialized by some unscrupulous 'gurus' who have taken it to the corporate world.
According to a report in The Independent, the doctrine of renunciation has been lost in the search for a quick buck.
AdvertisementYoga Inc., by John Philp, highlights and exposes the exploitation of an ancient tradition.
It also exposes the "hypocrisy" of some of the biggest stars in yoga's firmament and warns that it risks losing the good karma that has attracted millions of acolytes.
The popularity of yoga has triggered a boom in companies catering to the perceived needs of its practitioners, which Philp believes is anathema to its original purpose of providing spiritual salvation.
"The industry is dressed up in pseudo-religious robes but it's just a big money-making venture for a lot of people," he explains.
"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."
Philp points the finger at self-appointed yoga gurus such as Bikram Choudhury, "the Master of McYoga" who has spawned a multibillion-dollar empire based on his copyrighted "Hatha Yoga" classes, and companies from Nike to Canada's Lululemon Athletica that churn out yoga paraphernalia.
Choudhury, the billionaire yogi, who lives in California, is renowned for his legal battles to stop fellow yoga teachers from offering similar classes to his.
Bikram is the force behind the World Yoga Championships and is lobbying to turn yoga into an Olympic exhibition sport, to the consternation of many.
In Britain, up to half a million people regularly practise yoga, according to the British Wheel of Yoga, the discipline's governing body. New studios are opening all the time and the number of teachers is growing by at least 10 per cent a year, BWY figures show.
This year's Yoga Show at Olympia, west London, will see more than 300 exhibitors attempt to make money out of all things yogic.
Helen Smith, the BWY's chair, said she rued yoga's increasing commercialisation. "It makes you wonder what visiting gurus from India must think. It's tosh to think you need to buy certain clothes to do yoga. All you need is a non-slip mat and something loose to wear."
But yoga companies such as Triyoga, which has three studios in London and sells its own clothing range, DVDs and books, defend their right to make money.
Jonathan Saffin, Triyoga's managing director, said: "There's nothing wrong with it. You just need a commercial balance. Yoga centres need to be able to succeed financially but they do need to be run with integrity."
Lululemon's chief executive Christine Day said: "You can call it making money or you can call it having a livelihood."
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