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Who gets to control what yoga is?

Money. Standards. Standardisation. Governing bodies. Who gets to control what yoga is?

Part of what's fueling this fight is a misconception - that there are thousands of barely trained yoga teachers coming out every year (which is possibly true), from sub-standard trainings making pots of money (which is less true).
Money. Standards. Standardisation. Governing bodies. Who gets to control what yoga is?

Part of what's fueling this fight is a misconception - that there are thousands of barely trained yoga teachers coming out every year (which is possibly true), from sub-standard trainings making pots of money (which is less true).

Here's the deal, and you can quote me on this, halfway through a PhD looking at yoga teaching and transmission in the UK:

From yoga teachers, the media and academics alike, I keep reading that 'yoga is an x-billion dollar industry'. No, it isn't. It's a billion-dollar commercial industry of studio software, marketing courses, ad copy that uses women sitting in lotus to sell yoghurt, workout clothes, upmarket retreats to the 1%, apps that make their platforms money but pay their content providers pittances, and now $1000 yoga mats made of leather. All of it made by people who have no real practice, no real skin in the game as they say in the US. And that industry is a world away from yoga, whilst also living and feeding off the millions of people who dedicate their lives to a thousand year old tradition of philosophy, many hundreds of years of esoteric magic, and a concoction of health-related practices both produced and influenced by colonial politics and globalisation. That river of practitioners barely sees a penny. When cash-strapped GPs send patients to yoga classes, they don't send the funds to pay for them. A shocking amount of that high-class yoga gear, is produced on the Indian sub-continent in appaling conditions for workers. Meanwhile your average yoga teacher is earning less than minimum wage and either has an independent income or sure as hell can't afford to wear Swetty Betty's £70 'chandrasana' leggings.

We need to get really, really clear about where the money in yoga is going, and whose backs it's made off. We need to bring politics back into yoga, where it has always been. Because otherwise we're just fighting among ourselves for the scraps, pretending everything's going to be just fine. And the new shadow in the water isn't NOS, it's the future of digital media. Where even if you're pretty enough, thin enough, and well-connected enough to sell yourself as a 'brand' on Instagram and YouTube and YogaGlo, you won't be the one earning from it, the platform will.

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