The NPR radio show On Point featured a fascinating program about yoga in the West this morning. Author Stefanie Syman, whose book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America was just released today, shared her research on the history of the practice in North America. Boston-based yoga teacher Barbara Benagh was also a guest.
The conversation was a brief history of yoga in America and its mainstreaming in Western culture. I found it interesting how Stefanie noted that the media around yoga tends to be humorous and derivative, often trivializing it. She didn’t offer an explanation as to why that happens, but I know that it’s something that I’ve noticed in my obsessive media scrutiny.
When asked if there was a great thing about this moment in yoga, both guests had a positive response. Stefanie believes that there are more teachers than ever, meaning that there is lots of choice and availability. Barbara took note of the everyday effects of the practice, which impact our physical health and ultimately, lead to more social responsibility.
What I found especially fascinating about the broadcast, which also took live phone calls, was the response from listeners. Everyone who called in had some kind of insight to share, and the final caller – who encouraged people to just do it, just find the spirit in yoga for yourself – was especially inspiring and a natural conclusion to the show. The page for the show on the On Point website received over 50 comments, with the first one coming in hours before the show aired (and it was suitably crazy, which garnered a response from other commentors). It’s good to know that people outside of the yoga blogosphere bubble have things to say about yoga, too…