The practice of yoga, in all its traditional forms, is in many ways the grand dame of Eastern practices adopted by the West, in that it has maintained a certain status and reputation in a marketplace that is well-known for reducing century-old rituals into fleeting summer trends (yin and yang necklaces, anyone?).
And, we’re happy about that, because yoga is awesome: It can be done anywhere with minimal equipment and with little prior physical prowess; it has a mindfulness approach that promotes restorative rather than punishing exertion; and it’s a verifiable form of both emotional and physical therapy. The best part is that anyone can claim yoga for their own wellbeing. But can anyone claim it for public reinvention? And, should they?
I wondered about this a few months ago, sometime between reading a TIME article on ‘Doga’ (yes, that’s yoga with dogs) and seeing a video on Holy Water, a yoga-meets-stand-up-paddle-board hybrid developed by the owner of TMPL GYM in New York. I have a dancing background, so I spent a good decade learning the importance of technique — not just with regards to building muscle and flexibility correctly but to avoid injury. So immediately, I thought of all the many yoga instructors who are currently gritting their teeth with every new and expensive yoga variation that goes viral on YouTube, and asked two of them for their thoughts.