Yoga is Different Everywhere and for Everyone, get over it
Recently, I've been seeing a rash of blog posts, articles, even whole books all about how Americans have 'ruined' yoga, how Instagram is ruining yoga, how gym rats are not doing 'real' yoga, how we have lost any connection with the true roots of yoga. I've been hearing all about how our American culture has materialized it and filled it with misogyny and made it into it's now unrecognizable form. Don't get me wrong, I get it, Americans are rich, racist, sex-crazed, greedy pigs and we have pushed our ideas of individualizism and commercialism all over pretty much everything and in the process have 'americanized' whole traditions, religions and even basic societal norms. (And those half-naked Instagram photos of too skinny white girls bending themselves up like preztels bother me too!)
But let's take a step back for a second. As yogis, don't we encourage differences, celebrate differences, are taught to be mindful and accepting of different ways of doing things? We preach about how yoga is different for everyone and every body, but then look down on the people that want their yoga in a heated room? Why is it that we feel the need to look down on the 'gym' yoga or the fusion of yoga with barre/pilates/dance classes - are we saying that the people that practice this way are somehow inferior to us? Just because we have a 'guru' or a teacher with a direct lineage that we can follow? Because we know all the Sanskit names of poses or because we know who Krishna is? Because we have mastered Lotus? Therefore, we must be 'true' yogis and everyone else are just posers that are ruining it?
Yoga is Yoga is Yoga.
I think that If you want to blast Marilyn Manson and move around your living room in your $150 spandex pants and call it yoga - good for you!
Each culture has put their traditions and cultural flavoring on yoga and America, as a melting pot, is no exception. Some might say we have diluted it or ruined it, some might say we have made it richer, deeper. I might go so far as to say that we are actually making it more accessible (with some bumps along the way, of course), more modern and in turn more people in America are doing their version of yoga. The steady distancing of it from religion, from esoteric beliefs and from it's native language (Sanskit) are helping it become more and more mainstream. By mixing it in with American ideas, beliefs and values we are actually opening the doors of yoga to a much broader, culturally diverse audience and what's really wrong with that??
Above all, make yoga your own. Yoga is a living, breathing, always evolving entity that can have profoundly positive effects on your view of yourself and the world. Take what you want from it, make it your own and make sure that you keep an open and accepting mind to others' versions of it along the way.
(Even those verisons that involve hot rooms and Coldplay :)