Recently, I was approached by an active wear company to promote their products; essentially, they wanted to exploit my yoga practice for their own capitalistic gain and, naturally… I have some thoughts.
Yoga is trendy right now. It’s in. It’s handstands on the beach and intricate backbends performed by a thin white woman in $99 leggings. Because of its current boost in popularity, of course companies want to capitalize on it by feeding into this bogus idea of what yoga is: an elite practice for the exceptionally flexible who practice on a $100 mat in an outfit they bought head-to-toe from whatever company is currently filling their news feed. The market wants you to think that you need this mat or that mat to practice; that you need this brand of active wear to fit in; that you have to appear a certain way if you want to practice yoga. This ideal image that the media and the market have created serves only one purpose: greed.
These companies don’t care if you’ve never practiced yoga before and attempt a backbend in your new active wear leggings because that’s what you saw the model doing online and now you’ve injured yourself in the process. You drank the Kool-aid. They have your money- and your attention (which is, arguably, much more valuable)- and that was their goal all along.
Yoga is not a practice only for the elite. Yoga is not a practice only for those with money to blow. Yoga is not the beach at sunset or a walk in the park.
Yoga is sweat and tears. Yoga is a reflection into yourself and a slap-in-the-face to who you thought you were. It’s a wake-up call; a release of emotions and a place of solace from the world around you. Yoga is a safe space to heal and to allow light into the darkness within you. It’s a journey to self-awareness and it’s a journey to discovery; clarity of our world and our individual place in it.
A couple of months ago, my friend Alex took me to my first ever yoga class (I had been practicing- self-taught- on my own up until then) and to say it changed my life is an understatement. It was a release of which I’d never before experienced and I was so overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and gratitude that I cried. Not only is my practice forever changed, but my life and my outlook on the world is, too, and I’m never turning back.
Being approached by a company I know is only looking to exploit my practice to feed their greed attempted to cheapen a practice- a discipline- that I hold near to my heart. Furthermore, it drew my attention to a much larger issue: critical thinking. Sometimes it seems as though we’ve stopped thinking critically about the things we consume; the clothes we wear, the food we eat and even the media we chose to expose ourselves to. We mindlessly scroll through our social feeds. We eat whatever’s most readily available. We buy whatever’s trendy for the time being.
The absolute last thing that the market wants you to do is think about what you’re consuming. The second we start to critically assess our choices- ie. thinking about the environmental impact, thinking about the message we’re trying to convey as individuals, thinking about how we want to spend our time- the market is put at risk. People may stop consuming and so money stops coming in and companies fail.
Yes, we need a healthy level of trade to stimulate our economy but please consider the things you’re consuming; are you mindlessly scrolling, purchasing a Spiritual Gangster tank because it’s “cool”, not giving any thought to what it actually means to be a, quote, spiritual gangster? Or are you making conscious decisions to consume media and brands that align with your own ethos and convictions?
We need more of the latter.