The Absurdity of the New Yoga Studio
A Franchised Yoga Studio vs. Independent Yoga
The new yoga studio is a yoga studio owned by a corporation. Now I get it, even a mom-and-pop yoga studio might be an LLC for tax and or liability purposes. So when I say corporation, I’m talking about a corporate studio or chain of studios whose owner is most likely not running the show; the President or CEO is. Or maybe there is no owner anymore, just investors. A President or CEO is beholden to a board of directors, investors, and possibly even stockholders, not integrity. This is when the bottom line becomes more important than wellness. It’s pretty obvious that in a general sense, what sells is not usually what is good for us. That’s why they add sugar to almost everything. It isn’t good for us, but it tastes good! If it tastes good, most will buy it, and the corporations enrich themselves. That’s why you have skinny and/or ripped generic-looking models selling us everything from cars to insurance to yoga, even though those images may have nothing to do with the product being sold and those models are not necessarily healthy. As we know, sex sells! If you feel I am being cynical or critical, I’m not. I just want to be honest and in a straightforward manner address this topic. I am also not criticizing this fear-based mentality; I am just shining a light on it. It's probably obvious I do not like it, but I do trust it. Now explaining that might need to be a whole other blog.
The evolution of yoga is unstoppable, and certainly, I have been a part of that. The fact is, yoga has always been evolving since its inception. So, you could say corporations taking over yoga is just part of its natural evolution, and that could be a solid discussion. Yet I do not feel corporate yoga is part of yoga’s evolution; I feel corporate yoga is changing the definition of yoga (from wellness to fitness etc.). Remember, the corporate goal is financial viability (growth) and the yogic goal is wellness. These are two incredibly different goals and, much of the time, diametrically opposed to one another. To achieve the corporate goal, you need to keep selling more, even if it’s not yoga or needed. To achieve the yogic goal, you need to uncover the truth (create awareness). The truth is not always so pretty, as celery does not taste as good as a candy bar, and the celery farmer’s family is not as financially rich as the Mars (Snickers and Twix) family.
Yoga is like celery: nutrient-dense and cleansing. Corporate yoga is like a candy bar: it has a beautiful package (million-dollar facilities), it has a lot of sugar (hip music and beautiful, sleek advertising images and sexy products), and it’s sensually appealing. Yes, you still have to work hard and sweat, but the objective is fitness (strong, lean muscles, beauty, and shapeliness -- very sensorily gratifying), which is the sweet taste of a candy bar and has very little to do with wellness, which is the nutrient-dense, fiber-rich (cleansing) of celery. Ok, you might say, your corporate yoga studio offers Yin yoga, which is very nourishing and not vanity-based, etc… and I would say, ok you got me there. Not only that, there are many amazing yoga instructors that lead classes at these corporate studios (where else can they teach these days?), but I think you get the gist of this blog and that your studio still engages in corporate tactics to get people in the door, and they just opened a new studio right next to the mom-and-pop studio, which then “coincidently” went out of business!
What to do about all this? As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Educate yourself about what yoga is. Be aware, be awake, and see all that is happening and make conscious decisions. How much are you willing to sacrifice for wellness? Can you imagine yoga is more about giving up than acquiring more? Can you imagine yoga is more about appreciation than accumulation? Can you imagine yoga is more about maintenance than growth?
I’ll end with this: I was talking to a model for one of these yoga brands about the harmful effects of their brand’s marketing practices on people’s psyche, of which they’re contributing by modeling for them. This model could see my point and agreed, and then replied to me with a coy smile: “Yeah, but they pay me really well!”
Grasshopper: Be strong, Be honest, Be gentle.