Friday, September 30, 2011

Yoga Commodification

So I like yoga a lot, that's pretty clear. And I certainly acknowledge that wanting to find peace etc will make me buy stuff from time to time. Yesterday friend sent me an article about the commodification of the true self that pointed out the sales aspect of yoga to me in a new way. Basically, instead of, say, lipstick or new clothes making you feel better and happier and more like the you you want to be, well, yoga and poses and meditation are the lipstick or clothes.

I guess the real commodity is the same as it's always been: anything that will help relieve you of your feelings of inadequacy. There is a catch-22 here, of course, in the sense that usually we have to be told by the manufacturer that we have some inadequacy, then we internalize that inadequacy as true to us, and then we commit to purchasing something regularly for the rest of time to help relieve that inadequacy. Hooray advertising!

So, yes, in one sense yoga is a commodity that plays upon human dissatisfaction, creating a culture of consumers with the promise of an improved self. There are lines of yoga clothing and lots of workshops and stuff to buy and oils and incense and beads and whatever. In another sense, well, aren't we all ever just trying to grow? And do new things and expand our minds and experiences? And we need to know about stuff and participate in the world and read the newspaper and some books and check out fliers and do all of that, too, right? How can you differentiate "buying in" to make yourself feel better from "growing as a person" to make yourself improve?

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