Venturing into the ‘world capital of yoga’

Not too long after CNN ventured into Rishikesh, the New York Times this week has landed in the “world capital of yoga.”

OK, caveat: “unofficial.”

For whatever it’s worth, I checked again on our Yatra itinerary, and we basically pass right through Rishikesh on our way up into the Himalayas.

But check out the Times anyway, which even quotes some of the same folks from the CNN piece:

During my stay, I encountered gaggles of yoga teachers, young and old, but also wealthy young Indians unpacking angst, Midwestern American moms also hoping to decompress, one man who had sold his Facebook stock, some befuddled recent college graduates, several recently divorced and miscellaneous heartbroken souls, some self-described “crusty hippies,” a supermodel yogi, a Catholic priest turned Zen monk, a specialist in “laughter yoga,” several people who had recently quit their jobs and at least one teacher who said he preferred to pair his yoga practice with hallucinogenic drugs.

“What they’re walking away with is much more than just more flexible hamstrings and slightly stronger and more well-defined triceps and some pictures,” Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said. “People, their lives change here.”

Mornings start at the ashram with prayers and chanting at 5 o’clock, sometimes earlier. Meals are vegetarian, usually rice, lentils and some cooked vegetables, and are eaten in silence while you sit on a floor in a communal space. If alcohol and meat aren’t officially banned in Rishikesh, they’re certainly hard to come by. And many of the spandex uniforms of Manhattan studios clash with ashram dress codes, which ask for women to have shoulders and legs covered.

I’m not sure that two big stories from two big media count as a trend, but it seems strangely like some part of yoga is in the process of being “rediscovered.”

Posted by Steve