Commercial Yoga or 'why do they call it love when they mean sex?'
No, we have not made a mistake and post the wrong entry in the wrong page! Bear with us for a little and you’ll understand. Indeed, it is a most adequate comparison. Just consider the following scenarios:
A boy called X meets someone, exchanges phone numbers, goes out on a first date. The experience is so interesting that a second date follows, and then a third... He is hooked, fascinated, enthralled by the person in front of him and all that this person seems to be, all that this person can offer. He likes his appearance and demeanor, his voice, and conversation, even the way he speaks. He likes the way he caresses his hair when his head tilts back while in laughter and his weirdish way of sipping his drink away. He cannot just give one reason, but, all in all, the person in front of him has 'that special something,' that intriguing 'whatever,' that keeps him longing late at night for a romantic text message and the next date. X feels a natural desire for connection, wants to dive deeper into the relation, and grow into someone different with (and because) of the guy in from of him.
Now consider the alternative: A girl called Y meets someone, perhaps through a dating app or platform, perhaps in ‘real life,’ exchanges phone numbers, and goes on a first date. The experience is so interesting that a second date also follows full of lively conversation and a few drinks. The date progresses with the usual bits of flirty talk, furtive stares, and a great deal of fun. Indeed, she finds the person in front of her extremely attractive and the conversation funny. They are not particularly in tune when it comes to the big questions, but overall, their dynamic is great. Eventually, a few drinks later, they go home together, hook up, and have a wonderful time. As the night slips into the next morning, they say thank you for the wonderful night together, mention in passing going on another date, get dressed, say goodbye, and never meet again.
A lot about yoga practice in the studio scene in the main western cities nowadays mirrors this situation. You can get the quick, easily digested, second scenario –aka, the asana-based yoga introduction— but inadvertently miss out on all the rest. And what is the rest? All the beyond-asana practices and benefits that yoga as a comprehensive body-mind system has to offer.
Perhaps the analogy is a bit too 'moralist.' Certainly, there is nothing wrong with ‘just asanas’ (or, for that matter, ‘just sex’). Indeed, yoga is also physical practice. The downside is, however, when they call asana-based yoga 'Yoga' when what they mean is a very simplified version of it.
From pranayama, to meditation, asana, mantra, or the spiritual and psychological side of the practice, passing through the ethic of sustainability and livability that yoga ultimately proposes, there’s many things to this philosophy and tradition that contemporary simplified asana-yoga is missing out on; and with it, its students as well.
So again, there's nothing wrong with doing 'simplified yoga' now and then; but do not mistake the one, for the other. Pure, balanced, solid Yoga will leave you wanting more, will hook you up and trigger questions, even when it may also make you sweat.