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Commercialization of yoga: Boon or bane?

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New Delhi: Thousands of participants performs Yoga during a full dress rehearsal for the International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi on June 19, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
Thousands of participants performs Yoga during a full dress rehearsal for the International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi on June 19, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: From the tranquil environs of a forest or mountains, yoga is now increasingly moving to air-conditioned enclosures within homes, fitness centres or attractive resorts. While commercialization has surged the popularity of yoga, glamourising it to suit modern taste, this has also taken away the authenticity of the age-old discipline, say experts.

Nupur Sikka, director of Ganga Kinare, a riverside boutique hotel in Rishikesh – a city touted as ‘World Capital of Yoga’ and home to many ashrams and spiritual gurus – feels that “commercialization has both positive and negative impact”.

“We really need to treasure the traditional yoga style and maintain its authenticity rather than mixing up different styles of yoga,” Sikka told IANS.

The origins of yoga – which helps in physical and mental well-being – have been speculated to date to pre-Vedic Indian traditions. Later, yoga gurus from India introduced the discipline to the west. It is estimated that 250 million people around the world practice yoga, over 20 million of them in the US.

It has evolved into forms like hot yoga, power yoga, Ashtanga yoga and more.

Now, with the world ready to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21 – proposed to the UN by by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accepted with acclamation – experts hope its popularity gets a further boost.

“The affirmation coming from one of the highest offices in the country surely helps people shed their cynicism and develop an honest inquisitiveness. The fact that Modi himself is a trained yoga practitioner has further helped in promoting yoga,” Manisha Kharbanda, a 28-year-old practitioner and proponent of yoga for almost two decades, told IANS.

Kharbanda, who founded BrahmYog, a Patiala-based initiative committed to spread the benefits of yoga, stressed that “yoga is an education and commercialization of any type of education is not good”.

There are some, like IT training company Koenig Solutions, who give free yoga classes not only to their employees, but also to underprivileged children.

On the flipside, a major benefit of the commercialization of yoga has been the increased accessibility of the practice to the masses. Today, yoga is being offered in more venues, in more styles and of course more teachers, but Kharbanda believes that to keep a check on ensuring the promotion of authentic yoga, certification of yoga teacher from right institute must be a prerequisite.

“The idea of certifying yoga teachers through the ministry of AYUSH will be a welcome step and will ensure that people learn yoga the way it was evolved by our forefathers,” added Kharbanda, who holds four batches of yoga classes everyday.

Also, with the burgeoning popularity of yoga among the young and old alike, it has created space for multiple training centres.

Bikram Yoga, an international chain, has opened its first franchisee in India. For a monthly membership of Rs.6,000 exclusive of taxes or an annual membership of Rs.50,000 plus tax, it is attracting customers.

“Till now, 50-plus people have joined the classes in a period of one month while over 150 have taken a trial and have liked it. Many are eager to join. We have members from various age-groups ranging from 13 to 70,” Bikram Yoga owner Pallavi Aggarwal told IANS.

The fact that yoga is turning out to be a huge business globally is also proven by the variety of designer apparel and practice mats available in the market. And it’s only poised for growth.

“The interest of yoga in western countries is much more than India. In fact, yoga in the west has already taken off… It has much to do with government’s initiative because that is a force which guides people in a certain way,” Navneet, assistant general manager, Kairali Yoga at Kairali Ayurvedic Group, told IANS.

-IANS

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)