Consumerasana and the Om Yoga Show: developing a practice towards equanimity


A yogi performs in the window of  a Lululemon store in London [screen grab from Who Owns Yoga?]

A few days ago I wrote an article previewing next weekend’s Om Yoga Show in London [Oct 21-23]. It was a nasty piece of work, a bile-filled rant spinning out from the programme’s promise of “over 250 exhibitors specially selected to help you live the ultimate yogic lifestyle”. I also intended to attend the show and report back on this celebration of yoga as a form of worship at the temple of Mammon.

Just as I prepared to post my preview, though, I stopped, as if choking on my own rage at the consumerisation of yoga. And in that moment, pausing for breath, I realised how utterly futile my words were, little more than self-indulgent riffs of negativity that served no purpose other than, at best, to amuse those of a cynical bent.

The fact is, ranting about this kind of stuff is simply preaching to the converted; for many yogis, events such as the Om show are wonderful gatherings, and no amount of grumpiness will change their minds. And anyway, how arrogant to shit on their party; it’s certainly not going to convince anyone of anything other than the fact that I’m a bit full of myself, speaking as if somehow, my conception of a pure, traditional form of yoga is somehow superior to what most of the modern world embraces.

What’s more, wallowing in these strong feelings is the exact opposite of the equanimity I hope to work towards through my practice. Perhaps walking away is, in itself, a kind of practice; perhaps that’s just a pompous way of saying if you haven’t got anything good to say, say nothing.

Either way, there will be no preview here – other than to offer a link to the show’s website – and I will not be attending something I already know is not for me. I hope that whoever goes has an excellent time, and that the many businesses scratching – or even gouging – a living out of yoga do well.

By coincidence, a few days after spiking my preview I stumbled across the excellent short film Who Owns Yoga? It highlights precisely the kind of issues that trouble me about the monetisation of this venerable practice, and yet somehow it finishes on an optimistic note. The Indian yogi Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev puts it well towards the end of the film when he talks about a garland, where you can add whatever flowers you like to it, but you can’t change the essential thread that keeps it all together. This is yoga.

If you have 48 minutes to spare, Who Owns Yoga? (below) is well worth the time.

Leave a comment


  1. Amber Essence

     /  October 28, 2016

    And a wry smile crossed her face…knowing several in both sides of the fence~ me ? Just trying to balance on the damn thing and practise a bit of tonglen at the same time- I hear you though – and as you quite rightly point out -provide the ‘juicy stuff ‘ to test ones equinamity. Enjoyable read and a a giggle with/at Gilchrist.. your powers of observation and a knack of catching ‘the judgement ‘ amused me no end; many thanks 🙏🏽Amber 😊


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