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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

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Bollywood Celebs Shares Their Views: International Yoga Day

Here's what the celebrities had to say

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Bollywood Celebs Shares Their Views: International Yoga Day
Bollywood Celebs Shares Their Views: International Yoga Day, Flickr

From veterans like Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini to mothers Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Soha Ali Khan — Bollywood celebrities, for whom fitness is a way of life — posted yoga poses and spoke about its benefits on the occasion of International Yoga Day on Thursday.

While Amitabh Bachchan shared an old image of himself performing a yogasana on Twitter, Hema took the opportunity to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for spreading awareness about it “not only in India but in all the countries he has visited in the world”.

Here’s what the celebrities had to say:

Amitabh Bachchan: Greetings… but the attire for yoga is not ideal, that was a still from the Gujarat Tourism campaign.

Amitabh Bacchan
Amitabh Bacchan, flickr

Hema Malini: Today is International Yoga Day — a celebration of the world wide interest in our own yogasanas. Thanks to our PM who has spread awareness not only in India but in all the countries he hs visited in the world! I request all of you to spend a little time on your bodies to keep fit. I do!

Shilpa Shetty: Pranayama: Prana means life (no life without breath), Ayama means practice or control. So, when you practice control over breath you will have control over your life and mind. It not only cleanses 72000 nadis or channels, your mind and blood, but that cleansing process translates into energy..

Shakti. This power helps you positively manifest your Aura, relationships, self awareness and goals. This International Yoga day start with Pranayama. Welcome the new you. Inhale the future, exhale the past. Enjoy the present. A big thank you to Narendra Modiji who leads and inspires by example and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore for keeping the momentum going so passionately ‘hum fit toh India fit’.

Sandhya Mridul: Smile. Everyday. Best asana of all! Happy Yoga Day people.

Rajeev Khandelwal: The world follows it… we created it.. let’s own it!

Milind Soman: My contribution to the 1,00,000 Suryanamaskaaras that the people at Be Cure Fit are targeting today on International Yoga Day. I feel stronger and more flexible with yoga and it’s never too late to start.

Soha Ali Khan
Soha Ali Khan, flickr

Soha Ali Khan: Why I’ll always pick yoga over the latest fitness fad.

Nimrat Kaur: Place we shall ever have to live in. Keep it safe and beaming! Way of life. Born again.

Also read: Yoga a Boon for Breast Cancer Survivors

Mugdha Veira Godse: Union of body and mind! Happy International Yoga Day. Today is the day to start a brand new fitness routine. (IANS)