September 10, 2009

Yoga Breathes New Life into Stale Culture ~ via Shireen Qudosi.

“Hot Yoga” Devotees Find a Fresh Atmosphere for Balancing Both Mind and Body

As our consciousness expands, modern man is more open to exploring ancient ways of living.  Through increased awareness, we’re realizing that new is not necessarily better and that if something has persisted through thousands of years, then perhaps there’s some benefit in it.  This is the natural shift of man, an endless pendulum that swings between light and darkness, between both progress and regressions in enlightenment.

Adorno and Horkheimer hit the nail on the head when they noted society fluctuating between two extremes.  Here we begin to see the point.  The point is a swelling “manipulative nature of culture” that creates and fosters a pseudo sense of self.

In no area is this manipulation greater than with what lies within us. The modern man is a master manipulator of himself.  Through the ego, rarely ostracized but rather accepted as one’s own conscious self, we have tricked ourselves into believing that we are always in control

Corporations have also found a profitable niche here by catering to desperate dieting fads and overpriced cookie-cutter health clubs. And thus we have a culture that packages an identity that feeds into the modern ego.

The ego, desperately in need of structure and control, has sacrificed us to mass assembly line thinking.  With little exception we all more or less think the same way, a theory evidenced in our shared attitudes.  Perhaps in no other time in history have we been more disconnected from our authentic selves.

Enter Yoga.

Yoga, an ancient art form rooted in spirituality, has channeled to the forefront of culture through a resurging interest in esoteric new-age thinking.  While most “new-age” trends are vacuous of any genuine philosophy, yoga is an exception.

Wrongly stereotyped as a woman’s fitness routine, yoga is comparable in mind and body benefits to martial art forms such as Tai Chi.  Both require an immense amount of focus and discipline and are much harder than they seem.  However, I noticed a new trend on the rise, something referred to as “Hot Yoga“.

Though I recently traded in a useless gym membership for a few effective hours of boxing at a local dive gym, I’m always on the look out for new challenges. Having tried yoga at an Indian spirituality retreat years ago, I was interested to give it another go.  I was more curious about what this “hot” factor was.

Guzzling bucket loads of water as suggested, I showed up for a “hot yoga” class only to find about a 900-1000 square foot room packed with both men and women and set to a scorching 105°F with 40% humidity.  Ninety minutes and 26 poses later, I pooled together what was left of me and stumbled out of the room.  It was total torture the first time around but it was fantastic.

The only downside to “hot yoga” is the ripe smell of sweat and the lack of ventilation in the facility.  To avoid the yoga studio smells and encourage yoga studio sanitation, studios would do well to leave a gap between sessions and switch on a fan or air purifier between classes. Considering the level of extended deep breathing within moments of starting the session, it only makes sense to ensure filtered air through an air cleaner.

But going through the poses, you’re forced to let go of your need for control.  It’s a much more personal experience putting you in touch with your self as you recognize your own limits and work to push beyond them.  Void of meat-market attitudes, cacophonous music, and idle chatter usually found in large chain health clubs, hot yoga is without a doubt a complete meditation.  With sweat dripping from brow to ankle, it takes the will of a saint to remain in pose and to resist the urge to leave.  The ultimate result is a challenge of not just the body but also of the mind as you struggle to quiet it and master your own ego.

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