Does Technology Jive with Yoga?
Written by Jon Dyer.
Video, Apps, yoga software, high-tech gear, yoga clothing, yoga video games ... what's next for yoga? Yoga, a several thousand year old discipline is going high-tech in many ways. Is this good or bad for yoga?
The high-tech integration with yoga is definitely part of the commercialization of yoga. After all, people and businesses aren't going to invest resources into developing technology for yoga if there isn't a return. The question is whether this is good or bad for yoga? Does it distract yoga practitioners from the true purpose of yoga? My short answer is no. I'm not a luddite. I'm not a high-tech fanatic. I'm an average user of technology. I embrace technology that works for me, including in my yoga practice. In fact, my position is that technology (and the commercialization of yoga) is good. Why? Because it gets more people doing yoga and that's a good thing.
I'm the first to admit that doing yoga in a great class is superior to doing yoga on your own in front of the television. I do both regularly and find that I have a better and more fulfilling experience with a teacher in a class setting.
But, I don't go to a yoga class every day. However, I can run a DVD or play a yoga streaming video any time in the convenience of my own home. Moreover, some people starting yoga may not feel comfortable going to a class but want to start yoga. Yoga DVDs is a terrific way to introduce people to yoga. As a side-note, I learned yoga from a book. Frankly, it's easier to follow along with a video than using a book.
I'm not a big app user. But, there are tons of yoga apps that teach all kinds of yoga including yoga for asthma, for kids, for mamas, for relaxation ... it's a veritable digital class feast.
There's yoga software that helps you design yoga routines. There's also yoga software that helps yoga studios and yoga teachers run their yoga businesses. Both types of yoga software help end-users tremendously.
High-Tech Yoga Gear
Gear designers are in the yoga gear industry big time with yoga bags, accessories, and always striving to improve the yoga basics such as yoga mats, blocks, bolsters, etc.
One interesting yoga gear development that I have is yoga toes. Yoga toes are simple footwear designed to help spread your toes for healthier feet. They hurt at first, but work well.
Companies are growing at light-speed with the latest yoga fashions. Lululemon is an obvious beneficiary of the yoga clothing craze. After all, it's not that much fun doing yoga in jeans or a T-shirt that keeps falling down on any inverted pose. The latest yoga clothing helps us improve our practice and increases our comfort during yoga sessions.
Yoga Video Games
This one probably attracts the greatest amount of criticism. I'm referring to Nintendo Wii where you do yoga moves following a long with a video game. It's pretty out there. I would never have come up with it. However, it if gets people doing yoga and stretching some, I'm all for it.
The Basics are still the Best
At the end of the day, doing yoga in a great class session is best for me. I feel the most refreshed, usually learn something and enjoy doing yoga with other people. This is the foundation of yoga ... it's a highly personal and communal activity. Technology cannot replace this fundamental yogic practice.
Doesn't technology increase the commercialism of yoga?
This question presupposes that the commercialization of yoga is bad. I don't think it is. Many countries have capitalism as its economic system, which will inevitably result in the commercialization of anything, including yoga.
The state doesn't pay for teachers to start a studio. Teachers have to set up their own studio and charge fees that result in a profit (and a living). A simple yoga studio is commercial. I don't think you can fairly criticize a yoga studio because it's commercial.
If you can't criticize a yoga studio because it's a commercial enterprise, it seems to me you can't outright be against all commercialization of yoga. Perhaps it a spectrum for you in that studios are fine, but the yoga clothing industry has become ridiculous in making people think they need to spend $100 on pants to do yoga. Again, I don't buy it. That's the nature of our society. You certainly can choose to not participate and of course you have the freedom of expression to criticize ... but it seems to me effort is better directed toward a personal yoga practice and helping people than trying to stop the commercialization of yoga which is only going to grow.
I prefer to view technology and the commercialization of yoga in a different light. The incredible growth of yoga, which is good, is in part a result of the commercialization of yoga. Yes, growing demand increased commercialization ... but having hit a critical mass, commercialization and yoga technology now fuel its growth in part.
I'm all for the growth of yoga and its expansion into different styles, class formats and use of technology.
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