I wanted to write about the "cult" of yoga. I had planned to tell you about the commercialization of yoga. I've studied for 9 years, this isn't an outsider looking in, this account is coming from a member of the community.
That is what I wanted to write. I can't.
Wanderlust Festival, a four day event, is the largest yoga festival in the West. If you're familiar with the music festival scene, imagine that, but with yoga classes (or meditation, hiking, body work classes) replacing each musical performance. There are some musical performances in the evening, but the focus from 7am to 8pm revolved around the mental, physical, and spiritual elements of the yoga discipline.
As with anything that makes its way to the West, eventually, someone will find a way to make it a business. We live in a capitalist society. Maybe, if something catches on, a movement will grow and it will become part of popular culture. Yoga has certainly experienced both. Find a girl who hasn't spent $50 on yoga pants. Find a guy who doesn't love yoga pants. I think it's fair to say yoga has pervaded our society.
It's for that reason I expected my four days volunteering at Wanderlust Festival to turn me off from the yoga community. I expected to be bombarded with commercialized spirituality, watered down worship, and vanity draped in Lululemon. I expected devotees on every other corner passing out the organic non-GMO Kool-Aid, chanting Hindu mantras and clutching mala beads. The cynicism of the Northeast in me was ready and waiting to pounce, and judge.
While there was a big Lululemon "dome", and about 15-20 other vendors at the festival, selling yoga garb and advertising their products, it wasn't overwhelming or in your face. There were super spacey spiritual types, and a good amount of "fashion conscious" practitioners playing on their phones before class, but it didn't erode the spirit of the festival.
Basically, it was just a big group of people (thousands) who were there because they cared about their health, their minds, and maybe wanted to connect to something deeper, spiritual. Big shock here, but I've never seen so many Americans in such good shape. I witnessed so many strangers smile at one another, for no other reason than to just smile. Days, and now weeks after, I am still smiling. Big words like Love, Divine, and Peace were kicked around, but in that environment, it felt real. Maybe not the Divine, for me, but I genuinely felt that everyone around me was working towards peace for themselves, or some type of happiness. That might sound like some foo foo shit to you, but have you ever been around a bunch of light hearted positive people, it's basically that, and it's awesome. People still cursed, made inappropriate jokes, drank, but there was this foundation of positivity. Kinda weird when fear dissipates and people just be themselves, that's not something you experience in day to day life anymore.
Anyways, that's it. Maybe you should try yoga, or not. I don't care. But if you can, go find some positive people to hang around, and be yourself. Smile for no reason. Tell an inappropriate joke, and connect to something physically, mentally, or spiritually that moves you. It's pretty fucking sweet.