So … it’s National Yoga Month again. Does that mean anything?
As we noted last year with some bemusement, September in America is National Yoga Month.
That just means it has some recognition by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.*
Where rubber hits the mat, it is an excuse or reason for yoga studios to offer free classes and other events to entice people to try yoga. It’s a marketing of a healthy lifestyle choice, essentially. The Yoga Health Foundation seems to be one of the main forces behind it. (Of note, our friends at Yoga Gives Back also are a partner.) Here’s a bit about how things went last year:
In 2011, more than 25,000 individuals logged on to our website in search of local studios participating in the Yoga Month One Week Free Yoga Program. Generate new business by agreeing to accept the Yoga Month for One Week Free Yoga during September and October this year. Cards are only valid NEW STUDENTS – for individuals that have not previously practiced at your studio.
That is pretty straight to the point.
I assume behind this thinking is the pretty popular idea that “if people just get exposed to yoga, it will work its magic.” My cynical, twisted perspective wants to tear that idea apart, except for the sad fact that I’m proof. The yoga has definitely changed things inside.
This is an argument that has been a little on folks’ minds — I think among some yoga blogs but also some more mainstream political ones — due to Off the Mat, Into the World’s participating in the Huffington Post’s “Oasis” at the Republican National Convention. Why give foot massages and provide quiet space to those people, one argument went. The counter was: Well, maybe if they get exposed to this, it will shift their consciousness.
Now, while I’m one who perhaps has had his consciousness shifted, I’d argue I was a better “candidate,” if you will (points for the political pun!), than a Republican delegate from the Great State of Texas. I’d be surprised if anyone had their minds changed. (I know I saw somewhere the point made that if you think of yoga as providing clarity, then what this Oasis effort would do is make people feel more clearly about their Republican or conservative beliefs, beliefs we tend to assume most yogis disagree with pretty intensely.)
I don’t want to go on a political rant, though. Instead, I’ll note that I’m reading Krishna Das’ “autobiography” (not sure it is exactly that, but it is close) and he emphasizes that one can start chanting — his path to the Divine, obviously — with the wrong intention, or half-heartedly, or whatever, but if one keeps doing it, eventually it does seep in.
That’s the “expose people to yoga, and it will make the world a better place” idea. I can’t argue with it, other than to say the RNC is probably a tough crowd.
The same idea is clearly behind National Yoga Month, and the emphasis sure seems to be on the (important) health benefits one can get from yoga. I wonder, though, how many of those 25,000 actually followed through on their log-in to the Web, and how many of them are still practicing yoga, and how many of them have moved beyond the desire for that awesome yoga butt.
If it is even one, maybe that makes it worth it.
Posted by Steve
* Side note, for those interested: As part of my day/real job, I was part of an event that featured the director of the southwestern region of the Dept. of Health & Human Services. It mostly was focused on the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — and he was really engaging and informative.