Yoga: Stretch Away Tension and Bulge

Downward Facing Dog, Half Lord of the Fishes, and the Happy Baby. No, this is not some strange fairytale; these are all unique poses to the ancient yet ever so popular exercise of yoga. Yoga began over 5,000 years ago as a Hindu spiritual practice. In India, Yoga is seen as a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery. In all branches of yoga, the ultimate goal is the attainment of an eternal state of perfect consciousness. Within the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta this perfection takes the form of Moksha, which is a liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death. When this state is obtained there is said to be a cessation of thought and an experience of blissful union with the Supreme Brahman, Hinduism’s godhead. Yoga was first introduced to American society in the late nineteenth century by Swami Vivekananda. He believed that India had an abundance of spiritual wealth and that yoga is a method that could help those who were bound by the materialism of capitalist societies to achieve spiritual well-being. Little did Vivekananda know that yoga its self could be commercialized. American yoga has been transformed into a form of relaxation and exercise. The lucrative business yields nearly $3 billion annually from classes and products. While yoga was originally done bare foot, Nike has capitalized on the growing popularity by selling the first yoga shoe. Gucci has its own signature mat, Mark Jacobs crated a canvas and leather yoga-inspired handbag and Stella McCartney, a prominent trendsetter, has a line of yoga apparel. The list goes on. Despite the commercialization of yoga some see it has a positive addition to American culture. “The acculturation of yoga in America can be viewed as a welcome celebration of multiculturalism, promoting more open and tolerant cultural dispositions,” said John Tomlinson in his book Globalization and Culture. WCU itself sees the benefits of yoga for students and faculty as an exercise routine to supplement athletes and get others involved in physical activity. Weekly yoga sessions are held at Reid Gym Racquet Studio. Power Yoga classes are held every Wednesday for those experienced with yoga. Yoga Fit meets every Monday. Both classes gather from 4:45 – 5:45 p.m. and a valid ID with gym dues are required. Reid Gym does provide mats and props for class participants. “Someone may do yoga to feel the meditative benefits of mind, body, and soul connection. Others may enjoy the additional flexibility it provides in their fitness routine. I enjoy the muscular strength and endurance benefits that I achieve in my practice,” said WCU yoga director Kellie Monteith. Reid Gym’s yoga class will continue through the last week in April, and anyone is able to join. Classes have progressed through out the semester so Monteith suggests, “if someone is new to yoga, they should inform the instructor so that additional education and a more watchful eye occurs.”