Yoga, the Hype Part II

I recently allowed my subscription to Yoga Journal to expire.  Why would I do such a thing, it’s Yoga Journal!  There are two main reasons:  Where have all the men gone?  I am not sure that I have seen one yogin on the cover of YJ during my two year subscription.  The articles are the same, the vast majority are written by women for women.  Don’t misunderstand me, I have no problem with women authors but I would like to see more men writing articles for YJ and I would like to see some articles for men by men now and then.  The real problem with YJ is the advertising and especially the advertising that is disguised as articles.  I’m already paying for a subscription so why are there constantly more and more ads in the magazine?  I would be more tolerant of the increase in ads if there was also an increase in the number of articles but that is not the case.  However, I simply cannot abide starting into an article only to discover that it’s an ad!  If I want to read an article on soy milk, then I don’t want to discover that it’s really just an ad pushing brand X soy milk.

On this same theme, there’s yoga everything now:  Yoga clothes, yoga socks, shoes, gloves, jewelry.  Yoga has gone from esoteric Indian thing to fitness fad to mass marketing.  How prevalent is this mentality of buying yoga?  I think the simple question, What equipment do I need to do yoga? really helps illustrate that yoga in America has become something that Yoga is not.

For those of you who might well have been caught by that very question, What equipment do I need to do yoga? let me answer it for you:  None.  If you have a flat surface that is slightly longer than you are tall, then you have all the equipment that you need.  Clearly that must mean that I don’t use any equipment in my practice, right?  No but the point is that none of it is required.

Equipment List

Black Sports Brief
The support of a good brief can never be underestimated.  Having torn a vas deferens due to becoming entangled in loose clothing—raquette ball not yoga—good support is definetely mandatory.  When practicing alone, this is usually all I wear.
Short and somewhat loose in the leg shorts are needed when practicing asanas.  I say short and loose because it’s much easier to stand in vrksasana when your foot is pressed firmly against the skin of your opposite leg than against any kind of fabric.  This is also why I wear the above black briefs:  Briefs because no one wants to know me that well when I’m in an inverted or wide legged pose and black because it’s so much less distracting than hot pink.
Snug t-shirt
The biggest fashion mistake people starting into an asana practice make is wearing a loose t-shirt.  It only takes being attacked by a loose shirt just once while in an inverted pose or even just adho mukha svanasana to understand why.
I have two straps.  Straps can be helpful when you just can’t reach your toes in janu sirsasana or your hands don’t touch in gomukhasana.  However, it is all too easy to use straps to pull yourself deeper into a pose.  NEVER PULL YOURSELF DEEPER INTO A POSE!  Pulling is the absolute best and quickest way to injure yourself.
Other Equipment
Portable Floor
Finding a frim space to practice had been a problem.  The best place to practice was my room but as it’s carpeted with plush carpet, it just wasn’t suited to asana practice.  The solution, for me, was to build myself a portable practice floor.
Sticky Mat
Even the best of floors can be too slick so I use a mat.  It makes clean-up easy for those particularly sweaty practices and it provides some cushion for those times when there’s a lot of weight on my hands and for inverted poses.
Practice Rug
I also have a rug, the same size as my mat, that I use daily.  Before svasana or pranayama I lay the rug out on the mat.  It helps keep me warm and provides a little more cushion.
Space Heater
I like to practice in a room that is about 80° Farenheit.  My goal isn’t to practice in a sauna but to be comfortable as I practice.

Including the tools I bought to make my floor, I’ve spent about $300.00 over the last five years on Yoga and most of that—roughly $250—was on the heater and the floor.  If you listen to all the hype, you’ll have a YogaWater Water Bottle, an OM-niscient Bracelet, a MatMaster sticky mat carrier and who knows how many more Yoga branded gimmicks along with a much lighter wallet.  Yes, my floor and heater and mat and rug make my practice more enjoyable because I don’t have to herd the rest of the family out of a room to practice but without that need—a need I am grateful to have—I would just crank up the heater and my $5.00 briefs would be all I’d need.