I’ve been doing yoga for a long time: I took my first class back in the mid-’90s when I started university, before its popularity soared. It was truly the dark ages of yoga’while we did have sticky yoga mats, there were no special yoga clothes or yoga retailers, and studios weren’t ubiquitous like today.
Since then, yoga has become a big part of our culture’and a big business. I find its growth fascinating, which is why I was so interested to read John Philp’s book Yoga, Inc.: A Journey Through the Big Business of Yoga, which is based upon his documentary of the same name.
It’s definitely U.S.-centric, but the book offers a good analysis of yoga in North America and how Western culture has shaped its development. Philp also examines the idea of "real" yoga’the ideal that modern yogis are meant to be striving toward’and whether such a thing has ever even existed. And he looks at one of the more interesting personalities in modern yoga, Bikram Choudhury, whose copyrighted style of hot yoga has exploded across the globe, albeit amidst a lot of controversy.
It’s definitely worth a read for anyone with an interest in yoga and its place in our lives.