The Revolt Against Trendy, Elitist, Overpriced Yoga

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Here’s what you absolutely need to practice yoga: your body, some time, and a little floor space. A mat helps. The long list of things you don’t need, but have somehow been deemed essential, includes $100 yoga pants, New Age-y music, incense, a fancy, upscale studio setting, and a superstar, big-ego instructor whom you pay handsomely to order you around.

One of the good things to come out of the recession is that lots of people have realized that paying top dollar and fighting for a spot in some hotshot yogi’s class is not necessary. Yoga is about you and your body, and you can have a good—or bad—experience in any setting.

The NY Times reports:

A 2008 poll, commissioned by Yoga Journal, concluded that the number of people doing yoga had declined from 16.5 million in 2004 to 15.8 million almost four years later. But the poll also estimated that the actual spending on yoga classes and products had almost doubled in that same period, from $2.95 billion to $5.7 billion.

There doesn’t seem to be much reason for a downward dog to rise in price, other than that this has just been another trend entrepreneurs have been trying to exploit. Since the recession hit, it seems like plenty of yoga practitioners have gotten turned off by the costs and bragging-rights aspects of what are really simple, physically and spiritually rewarding exercises that you can do anywhere.

The Times story showcases Yoga to the People and other pay-what-you-can yoga studios, which have grown in popularity obviously because of the money (or lack thereof) involved in attending classes, but also in terms of their un-snobby, everyone’s-welcomed atmosphere.