By Ellen O'Conner
You know what I like in yoga class? Yoga.
You know those bistros where you get a little of this and a little of that, all fused together? I’m not the
biggest fan. I love Italian and Thai food, just not together. I love chicken, but when I order it, I want
primarily chicken. I don’t want some small bite inspired by chicken with too many ingredients layered
on to add volume and price but maybe not palatability.
I love a chicken pasta dish. I really don’t love chicken Alfredo which contains only 5 pieces of fettuccini because the rare
squid ink infusion makes it cost prohibitive. When that pasta
is topped with a dusting of chicken like flavoring over a pickled
tofu Parmesan Alfredo sauce and accented by lemon grass, a
coin of house cured lamb bacon, sriracha, and curls of a vegetable invented last week, like romanesco, I feel overly stimulated
and not so satiated. I am totally a fan of quality, locally sourced,
house made everything, but I don’t need it all in one dish.
What do food preferences have to do with yoga? The classes
have become like trendy bistros. They can feel way too complicated and resemble yoga very little. Yoga has always had variety,
and that’s a good thing. I’m not a purist, but I’m just not feeling
the Kick Boxing Kundalini with weights and essential oils class.
I’m good with “less is more.”
When I started practicing, I was enamored by yoga’s low tech
simplicity—a body and a mat. I didn’t feel intimidated by performance shoe choices, or the need to assemble a lot of gear and
master elaborate equipment. I used a block or a strap. Gradually, I tried various types of fitness yoga and incongruous yoga
hybrids with weights, bands, balls, and bars, fast twitch repetition, interval training, intense heat, loud stimuli, and screaming drill sergeants. All of this led me to miss my yoga practice.
Fusing yoga with boxing is like mixing Italian and Thai. I get
that studios and instructors want to make a name and a living,
and that adding a popular activity with yoga seems like a wize
branding strategy. Further, promoting yoga as a component of
something else instead of as a unique complement is way easier
than the actual work of distilling yoga. But it’s not as satisfying.
Ultimately, SpinYo is a fad, like pumpkin spice, it’s everywhere
for a while and then nowhere.
It’s easy to skip out of hybrid yoga. Outside of yin, it’s not so
easy to find classes that aren’t too hot, too fast, too loud and
way too heavy on chaturangas. They feature so many sequences
I can’t catch my breath, let alone align myself in a pose. These
hard body hard core classes elevate my anxiety, irritability,
and even my internal inflammation. I leave feeling worse than
when I came.
CrossFit, TRX, and Boot Camp classes are money. People who
expect yoga to be free think nothing of dropping significant
cash on these classes. Why? Performance shoes. They are willing to pay more for activities with stuff, especially state of the
art. It’s understandable why yoga studios would emulate them,
but thinking a yoga practice and a HIIT routine are the same is
thinking over processing food with salt and saturated fat makes
it as flavorful as something ripe from the garden.
If the lack of pricey shoes doesn’t fill the room, studios pour
ketchup over the practice and make yoga and PX90 taste the
same. They entice students with WODs. Beachbody Insanity
and Yoga Shred aims to sell lucrative packages and save effort.
INDIANA & YOGA MAGAZINE ISSUE I