According to New York magazine, Equinox (a chain of fitness centers) has signed a deal with Pure Yoga and will debut a 20,000-square-foot space on East 86th St. come spring.

“‘Yoga is in great demand, and that continues to grow,’ says Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak. (It’s currently a $3 billion industry.) Spevak says the new club will be ‘design and amenity driven,’ which means the usual Equinox high-end gloss, five rooms simultaneously offering classes in different styles, and an emphasis on customer service, including the ability to book the exact floor space for your mat online.”

I’m sorry. I love going to the gym as much as the next person, and I understand that yoga is good for the body and soul. But “yoga” as it is imagined in the U.S. seems quite different from yoga as understood in the daily lives of those in India. Have trouble breathing? Assume a certain posture. Depressed, and need to be uplifted? Go to a neighborhood yoga camp. Incorporate small changes into your daily life, and gather with others seeking a more organic solution than those traditionally offered in urban centers.

Doesn’t neurotically planning every second of the experience somehow undermine the calming benefits of mindful movement? Doesn’t insanely posturing for the best mat space, months in advance, make the whole thing a bit less about fitness and healing, and a bit more about cultural cache, money, and unenlightened attachment to the trappings of modern society? Bakwas.  

(Picture is from when I taught at a journalism school in Kerala. I took a weekend trip to a town called Aranmula, which is famed for a particular type of metalcraft mirrors; we stopped by this river to get a drink of water and happened upon this man quietly meditating under his umbrella. After about 20 minutes, he stood, bathed with his buffalo, and walked off down the road.)

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