Good thing or not? ‘Broga’ in the news

As I mentioned in an earlier post, most of the media coverage I see about yoga is from local or small papers (and, of course, plenty of blogs). So I always think it’s a big noteworthy when a larger, more mainstream outlet highlights yoga.

Today’s bigger story is from the Boston Globe, the bigger of that city’s two papers. Of course, maybe we can argue whether it actually covers “yoga.” Because the subject matter is …

Broga.

Now, I suppose first I should say: Yeah, I wish I’d thought of that. Maybe the next big thing will be my idea. Anyway…

Despite my knee-jerk reaction, the founders of Broga insist they aren’t going “yoga-lite.” Here’s 41-year-old co-founder Robert Sidoti:

“This is not a dumbed down version of yoga. There’s a lot of movement linking the postures, but adding push-ups and variations of squats. People see the name ‘Broga’ and they think it’s just a bunch of idiots. But there’s integrity.’’

Hammering this point home seems to be the thrust of the article. (I assume Sidoti and his partner, Adam O’Neill, are pretty stoked with how it came out.) Of course, one person’s “not dumbed down” might be someone else’s “removing all the yoga from yoga”:

Sanskrit terms are avoided as much as possible, and poses are carefully explained.  “Broga offers a much more palatable introduction to yoga at a much more familiar level,’’ says O’Neill. “There aren’t a lot of esoteric yoga terms that are used. We move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.’’

Now, I understand there’s definitely a place for this. And I suppose one bottom line always comes down to: It’s better if more people are doing some kind of yoga than fewer are.

Right? Because, as I know first hand, even if there isn’t Sanskrit or other “yoga principles” involved, some of it might sneak through anyway. And I’m going to default to the categorical position that that is a good thing.

But “Broga,” along with all the other “-gas” out there — dogs, horses, paddleboards, etc. — does continue to cloud the meaning of what “yoga” is. I’m not even sure that “Hatha Yoga” is correct in most of these instances. Is it just the asanas? In these instances, it seems to be. But it feels like the naming genie is out of the bottle — can you imagine every yoga studio in the West replacing “yoga” with “asana,” as would probably be more correct. AsanaWorks — does it have the same ring?

Although “Hot Asana” kind of makes me giggle.

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

8 thoughts on “Good thing or not? ‘Broga’ in the news”

  1. Hi Steve –
    Love the post and completely respect your perspective. In fact, I agree with you almost entirely. There is good reason to be concerned about over-commercialization and/or bastardization of yoga. After all, how watered down and “Americanized” can/should yoga get before it’s not really yoga all, right? And with a name like “Broga”… we know (and expect) that we’ll be ‘stirring the pot’ among anyone who adheres more closely to “purer” forms of yoga. But that said, we do also believe strongly that when, for whatever reason (and the reasons don’t really matter), 78% of dollars spent in the yoga industry (citing Yoga Journal) come from women, and the benefits of yoga are NOT sex-specific, it is indicative of a failure in the industry as whole to appeal to the other half of the population. We believe that yoga should be easily accessible, fun, welcoming, and rewarding for all people. To us, that means reaching out to the many men (and women) who have tried yoga (with poor experiences), currently practice yoga (and want something additional, new, or different), or never ever would have tried yoga had it not been designed for them, and marketed to them. Broga is a new entry point into the big, beautiful, potentially-transformational, and definitely life-affirming world of yoga.
    Thanks again for your great post! Hope to meet in person sometime.
    All the Best,
    Adam O’Neill
    Co-Founder & President
    Broga

    1. Adam.

      First off, I appreciate the thoughtful answer. That says volumes.

      As I noted, all the “other benefits” of yoga — Ashtanga, in particular, and keep in mind, I’m kind of a yoga snob, as a result — snuck in more and more as I took basic flow and hatha classes. (My first significant teacher had a website called “Rocktanga,” so non-traditional definitely doesn’t bother me.) I bet that will be true for a lot of your students, even if you never under a Sanskrit word. They’ll check into that themselves.

      As for “stirring the pot,” the headline is in that vein, too, I hope you realize.

      If I were more flexible, I would literally kick myself for not thinking Broga up.

      Cheers, and congrats on the Globe story. Should help a lot.

      S

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