The word Yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union“. My affair or rather specifically, “union” with Yoga, began 10 years ago when a colleague jolted me to join a corporate class. I dragged my sluggish, work-burnout body to my first Hatha practise and became hooked. I’d fallen in love with what Yoga gave me; a sense of self-awareness, the union between my mind and physical body had thus begun. I had started on my path of svadhyaya; consciousness.
Back then the yoga room was a very different place, the most popular style of Yoga practised locally was Hatha and some were more focused on meditation than the asana. This was before yoga studios proliferated, popping up at almost every street corner. Yoga props I recall, consisted of simple wooden blocks albeit heavy ones. Foam blocks were still fairly uncommon and under-invested by rustic yoga studios.
Very early on, yogis used deer and tiger skins as the foundation for their asana. Towels and blankets were one of the first yoga props used in the 60s and 70s when there were no “sticky”, “grippy” mats manufactured by sleek yoga wear companies. Subsequently in 2007, mats were still simple, we relied on whatever the studios offered and they were mostly in a solid color with no fancy, creative prints. Heck, I did not even have my own mat those years! This was a time also, before Lululemon became synonymous with Yogawear. We wore simple Thai fishermen pants to class (imitating our instructors’ style) or airy cotton shorts- none of those flexible, form-fitting, moisture-wicking pants trending everywhere now. Yoga wear was indeed simple and bare then.
Bali Yoga Retreat at Yoga Barn, 2008 . Trending then were fishermen pants and baggy cotton shorts. The author is seen being adjusted by the instructor.
I practised Hatha for 4-5 years before taking a sabbatical after having kids in 2012. My affair with yoga was rekindled last year when I plunged back into practise. Yoga had evolved so much since then and its explosive impact can be seen not just in the fitness industry. Yoga gear has progressed exponentially with new equipment and apparel featuring hot on fashion runways like never before. Form-fitting, shimmery yoga pants have become the uniform of celebrities doing their coffee run. Every respectable yogi now owns a mat (branded or not), foam blocks and yoga wheel as her work out companions. I was wide-eyed and amazed with this new style of yoga and embraced it wholeheartedly.
Despite all of this, the deep principles of yoga have remained true to form, never wavering in spite of trends. Ahimsa, nonviolence, is a key tenet of yoga. We see now many yoga brands developing products that take into consideration the environmental impact during manufacturing. They honor Mother Earth in the use of recycled materials and are ethically made, without any harmful effects on animals or plants. These brands truly champion proudly the ancient teachings of Yoga and help to push forward positive changes in our lives by evoking Tapas, austerity. Indeed, the world’s affair with yoga has arrived and it will be a deeply transformative experience.
200Hr Weekday, Sept 2017