According to newspaper Le Monde, if you hadn’t signed up for yoga by the end of August then you’ve failed at life. The yoga craze shows no signs of slowing down. There are some two million yoga practitioners in France and 36 million in the United States—and the numbers keep growing. Social networks are crowded with photos and videos of yogis-in-training practicing before a sunset background. The August issue of ELLE magazine described it as “the boom of the ego trip.”
June 21 is the International Day of Yoga. This day declared by the United Nations was an instant success. Many professionals feel, however, that the International Day of Yoga is often a sponsorship opportunity for clothing brands and focused on record-breaking pose attempts for The Guinness Book of Records. Yoga businesses have demonstrated endless creativity with their new concepts: Tequila Yoga, Beer Yoga, Goat Yoga (where poses can come with an actual goat on your back…), Alien Yoga (where the stomach is pulled in except for an isolated area), Namasdrake (a yoga class to the music of Drake) and even Harry Potter yoga. Yet, as explained by Isabelle Morin-Larbey, president of the Fédération nationale des enseignants de yoga (the national federation of yoga teachers in France), “yoga is not therapy or gymnastics; it’s a philosophy for finding meaning in life by getting to its very essence amidst a world in turmoil.” With its origins dating back thousands of years in India, yoga is a discipline designed to “stop mental fluctuations.” “Today there’s a huge market for well-being,” says Psychoanalyst Christiane Berthelet Lorelle. “This creates a need for us to convey and refer to the ancient texts and continue to work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to discern authentic, ethical practice from those dedicated to gymnastic performance or aestheticization.” In other words, it’s anything but a practice grounded in results-based culture. Isabelle Morin-Larbey adds that “Patience, slowness, perseverance and humility are qualities that are developed on the mat.”
“We have miracle solutions for everything like losing weight, but yoga is about detaching from appearances,” says Patrick Delhumeau, director of the École Française de Yoga de l’Ouest. Yoga’s health benefits have been supported by many scientific studies and the practice is increasingly offered in healthcare facilities. Responding to the demands of modern life, many also see yoga as a way to cope with the fragmentation of time, the permanent rush of the everyday, and especially, the need to do everything at once. Yoga helps you give yourself permission to take time for yourself. For Teacher and Screenwriter Gilles Vernet, it’s “a discipline that gives new life and flexibility to our existence.” As the author of a book and documentary titled Tout s’accélère (Everything is Accelerating), he believes “It’s good to take intentional breaks in a world where they’re no longer offered to us.” “Yoga allows us to detach from certain behaviours, especially consumerist ones,” says Isabelle Morin-Larbey. “And to let go and focus on what’s essential.” At the end of the day, a goat on your back is probably not so essential, no matter how flexible he is.
Last modified: October 30, 2018