Yoga in the Marketplace

Having come out of its shroud of mystery and conquered the world, Yoga is returning to traditional values.

Some of us like to believe that the times in ancient India were ideal spiritual times and everyone was holy. Quite to the contrary, Yoga and deep spiritual insights were on the margin of society. While yogis and sages were respected and supported by society, most householders did not understand the true nature of Yoga.

The Yogi: From spiritual outcast to marketing expert

In fact yogis were feared by the common man for their alleged occult powers, their strange unsocial behaviour and more often than not for their explosive and unpredictable tempers! Sometimes yogis were considered to be vagabonds who did not contribute to society, indulged in sensual pleasures and used hallucinogens to attain different states of consciousness. Not all these accusations were misplaced.

Today we have all that and more. The Yoga "market" is full of wares, and all the teachers are in the marketplace.

Most teachers "sell" only the physical aspects and benefits of Yoga in the belief that there is no "market" for the entire system based on a moral and ethical code of conduct, physical postures, breathing exercises, relaxation, simple meditation as well as a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In fact, these schools of physical culture are often so far away from the traditional way of practicing Yoga that they might be called contortionists.

Spiritual values in a mature society

"Selling" the physical postures and thus creating an incomplete picture of Yoga may have been necessary in the early half of the 20th century when Yoga was coming out of the cave monasteries of India.

The "market" then consisted of people who were scared of strange looking miracle men and gurus with hypnotic eyes among the westernized Indians. In the West the "market" consisted mainly of persons with Christian background and orange clad swamis and yogis in loin cloths were viewed with extreme suspicion. At this time focussing on the physical and health benefits was a stepping stone and has contributed positively to the fact that today Yoga is mainstream. 

The "market" has matured since then, as the studies about the benefits of Yoga provided by scientific institutions, the medical community and research organizations have given Yoga the status of a science. The decline of the Christian values in the West combined with a higher level of education and dissatisfaction with material values are leading more and more people around the world to the scientific and systematic meditative aspects of Yoga.

It is time for Yoga as a spiritual practice to become mainstream.

Source Guide

Autobiography of a Yogi : Includes Bonus CD

A History of Indian Philosophy (5 volume set)

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (8 volume set)


Suhail from Delhi:
So true, makes so much sense. Simple and well put. :) Thanks.

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