This is my second week based in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. I’m writing this in my home-stay overlooking a rice field, slightly sweating in shorts and a t-shirt while it’s a cold and damp winter back home in Canada. Thousands upon thousands of westerners come here for the “tropical paradise”, yoga classes, and spiritual teachers, hoping to provoke a meaningful life change.
Quite frankly, I’ve found this “paradise” depressing. The capitalism and endless shops and services are convenient, but a huge chasm in terms of seeing the Balinese way of life. And the capitalistic mentality infests yoga in a big way.
Yoga is a huge business here – most of the people I’ve met staying here are doing a yoga teacher training. And it is a true business – centres maximising profit by having large classes, layers of marketing, clothing lines, continually selling you not just on a particular technique, but a lifestyle, an experience, a way of being. An identity. In the class I attended a couple days ago, the teacher was a walking advertisement for yoga – young, beautiful, graceful, with a voice that belonged in a Club Med advertisement. In other words, the tone and pacing were very controlled and slow, saccharine sweet, conveying “trust me” in all the overtones – but I had no idea who she was as a person. She was a yoga performance artist. (more…)