August 27, 2011

In Defense of the West: Relax, Power Yoga Ain’t So Bad. ~ Aaron Paul

Photo: Aaron Niefer

Why is it that many yogis feel threatened by the Americanized strain of yoga?

As if the addition of the word power somehow spoils the pure yoga milk. Power is a dirty word to some, but I invite those people to reconsider its meaning.

Empowerment can be just as transformative as enlightenment.

The stiff necks will sarcastically and pretentiously mock any yoga that promotes a cardiovascular practice, as though somehow the concept of movement is an American idea. Power yoga involves strength, but that doesn’t separate it from other forms of yoga. Power yoga requires cardiovascular endurance, but that doesn’t categorize it as track & field.
Power yoga is all about exploiting yoga to make money.

Yup – just like martial arts, politics and religion, there are those who aim to exploit peoples’ beliefs to make a buck, welcome to the world, fellow traveler – this should not be a shock.

Oh, and please don’t even start with the marketing argument – that it’s all about money, when you’re commenting on elephant journal articles from your iPhone and posting on facebook from your tablet – you lose that right. You are a consumer of yoga and technology alike. Clearly there is power in modern methods of marketing and knowledge sharing

that even those with a gripe against power yoga embrace. In fact, unless someone printed this article and handed it to you, I find it hard to take your superior yogi purism seriously.

The existence of power yoga fills a need. It challenges our minds and our bodies in new and different ways. This enhances the experience of certain types of yoga and if done well it does not cheapen the spirituality behind it.

People crave the next weight loss craze and marketing exploits these trends with similar words to power like extremeintense, insane, etc.

Power yoga is not one of these gimmicks; it is rooted in the same practice as all other yoga. It is not new and it is nothing to be feared – so relax, power yoga ain’t so bad.

In fact, a true yogi would embrace its existence and celebrate the fact that it has brought yoga into the lives of so many to whom yoga seemed completely inaccessible. So before you complain about power yoga’s murky translation of yogic dogma, or call it calisthenics hidden under a yoga mask, consider that western varieties of yoga empower people to be more calm, more comfortable with themselves, and more peaceful – and isn’t that really the point?

Allow people to be enlightened in their own way because if you haven’t learned yet that your way is not the only way, then you haven’t been paying attention in yoga class – or maybe you’re just still waiting to be empowered.

Aaron Paul shows up and does yoga – yeah, mostly power yoga. Nothing fancy. He’s at [email protected] if you want to contact him.
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