We may have had it for 5,000 years and more, but you can trust the Americans to make a huge successful business of it, leaving us looking more than a little miffed.
According to a study by the Yoga Journal (magazine in th US, natch), in 2005 16.5 million Americans were practicing yoga, and they are spending $3 billion a year on it (special clothes, special mat, special yoga water bottle etc). In Mumbai, when the ADC started 25 years ago, we had the institutes on Marine Drive and Santacruz, but few people seemed to be doing it on a regular basis at home.
Now, you ask someone if he or she is doing yoga and the answer is usually, “What kind?” Thanks to Sri Sri Ravishanker and Deepak Chopra, but particularly Baba Ramdev and satellite television, yoga is there is everyone’s living rooms, brought to us in a variety of ways.
Pranayam is givng us a new lease of life, Bikram and hot yoga are no longer merely amusements from the US but available in studios in the city, there is a mudra for everything that you can practice in your spare time in trains and buses and cars on your way to work. And millions are waking up early in the mornings, tuning in to Aastha and just following Baba Ramdev who has perhaps done more to popularize yogs in everyday life than anybody else.
Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, Swaar, Jivamukti, the list goes on. And there is also Tibetan yoga, believed o have almost magical properties of anti-aging, turning the clocl back and restoring your body and mind to youth. In 2010, practically everyone knows how to do the surya namaskar, at least in theory!