Last week I attended classes at three different studios Corepower, Evergreen Bikram, and Samadhi Yoga Studio, all in Colorado. Corepower is hot power yoga with a big ab crunchie middle; no chanting, incense or candles. Its a home grown "intuitive"(hmm...) yoga that has spread to 8 studios in Colorado, Minnesota and California. Evergreen Bikram is, well, Bikram. Lots of humidity, and where I go routinely. A trend twenty-five years in the making, studios worldwide, and copyright litigation that makes fun reading for us lawyer yogis. Samadhi Yoga focuses on the spiritual side of it all lots of "ohms", lots of chants and lots of incense. Billboard sized portraits of Buddha on the studio walls. I mention all this because I'm a relative newbie, and still looking around. There are many styles of yoga that I have never experienced, but I think I should along the way, and no doubt will. No rush.
I like Bikram. That is now, I think, unfashionable to say. I like being able to see my progress day-to-day and week-to-week, because the 26 poses and their order make it easy for me to notice my physical progress. I like the flow. I like the small size of my Bikram class maybe ten on a busy day. At Corepower, on a Sunday afternoon, with full mirrors on three walls, I felt like I was in a holding pen for a "So You Think You Can Dance" try-out; "om" and its symbol were as much brand as a spiritual path.
I am suspicious of anyone, yogi or not, who is certain that their particular way of going about asanas, their interpretation of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians or the Heart Sutra, or their Atkins vegan lifestyle is the only correct one. I am suspicious of folks selling mugs, mats and t-shirts with their yoga studio name on them. I am suspicious of someone a little too obviously engaged in meditation before class. I trust the teacher more if they're not wearing Prana (or Prada for that matter) though I've been proven wrong on this stereotype, among others. I loved it when Peter over at Yogastania recommended (in response to a post) that I get some solid soccer shorts for my yoga workout - no mention of Prana anywhere!
I am suspicious of those who would disengage yoga from its historic roots and the spiritual aspect I consider part and parcel of the practice; so I am suspicious of Yogilaties®, Yoga Fit® , and Cy-Yo®, but this is not an exhaustive list.
And I am also suspicious of those who decry this disengagement. Everything changes after all. Even that Catholic Church had to admit Gallelio was right, albeit after 400 years.
I have no doubt (OK, I hope) that Yogilaties, Yoga Fit and Cy-Yo will go the way of so many splinter groups (when was the last time you met a Shaker?), but I imagine yoga will take care of its own evolution just as it has for thousands of years.
Still, nothing would please me more than if yoga could manage to avoid the whole Pat Robertson stage in its transmission to the West, and if Madonna never decided to adopt yoga as another pet cause.