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Yoga Has Become a Carnival

in Business of Yoga, YD News
Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business

Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business

At least we didn’t say circus, right? Right. An article from today’s Washington Post sheds light on the increasingly gimmicky and bells and tassles and whistles and feathers-laden the yoga world has become – essentially a carnival. Without necessarily deciding if this is an inherently “good” or “bad” thing it’s rather fascinating to observe what wild combinations and mutations people have come up with to draw people to fitness and by association/in combination with yoga.

This, says Lori Lowell, is the new yoga: Two DJs on stage, a rapper, perhaps a human beat boxer, and somewhere in the mix, an instructor leading students through an hour’s worth of poses.

Lowell just opened her Gold’s Gym Elite Training Center in DC, a 22,500-square-foot smorgasbord of boxing, jungle gyms, aerial yoga and bubble soccer. It’s an adult romper room utopia, and part of her inspiration? Yoga festivals and yoga studios. Lowell noticed how people wanted to connect on a social level and how they’re always hungry for new and exciting activities with their playmates…er…friends. Hooping is just the tip of the trendy iceberg.

“We decided this new club was going to be a carnival of fitness,” Lowell said. “It’s as much about music and socializing as it is about exercise.”

What we’ve seen at yoga festivals is just the beginning. This is an all-in, three ring event. It’s like if these Brooklyn Yoga Raves got a little more meat-headed, muscle-y and mingle-y. “It’s a complete reconfiguration of what fitness should be,” said Lowell. “We’re trying to create more social environments with really cool couches, a fireplace and a stage for performances.”

Suddenly the yoga in beer breweries thing doesn’t sound so outrageous. Welcome to the new Mardi Gras. Namaste.

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7 comments… add one
  • Thom

    Glad someone made it official. It’s a flat out three ring circus out there with nude yoga, chocolate yoga, ganja yoga, and stand up paddle yoga. No shortage of clowns either. They are coming one by one out of the clown car called Yoga Alliance. The only magic trick now seems be how to make as much money they can before this cash cow fad is no longer trendy. Not to fear, Crossfit is next.

  • Ok, there are a lot of yoga fads that bug me, but I’d love to practice in a big group with a DJ. And sign me up for that bubble soccer thing–that looks like fun. I like the idea behind that gym–exercise should be fun, and as adults we don’t really play very much. I think what they’re doing, while certainly faddish, is still pretty cool.

  • John

    Some people are having fun! Shocking! Disgusting! Good thing we real yogis are properly spiritual and miserable.

    My own experience is that yoga is getting more and more restricted and uniform. The spin-offs like “aerial yoga” may pull in a few punters but the vast majority of classes are firmly aimed at the been practicing two or three years, like to talk about patanjali but wouldn’t dream of following the practices he details crowd. Everything about the same speed, nothing too fast or too difficult, making an effort isn’t spiritual! Maybe a crow pose or two one day (always with the neck cranked back as hard as possible) but never, ever, a handstand, that’s just ego. Possibly some astanga but only accompanied by a lot of talk about how it’s the hardest physical system ever imagined…

    Small wonder people end up at crossfit, the technique might be terrible but at least they’re alive

  • Dwayne

    I recently watched a Youtube video of David Swenson from Melbourne, Australia, called “David Swenson On Mysore In The Early Years”.
    I think he has the most sane take on such trends (starting around 2:50): he doesn’t care *at all* about commercialization or *why* people start with yoga…”the more that yoga is exposed to the world, I’m all for it, it’s OK…”

  • arlet

    i’m all for drawing more attention and awareness to yoga in general, so grab your bubble ball and meet me on the mat! http://extendyoga.com/

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