With Yoga becoming more popular, there has been a rapid increase in the number of brands selling products related to it, which include Yoga Mats, Yoga Blocks, Yoga Pants, even Yoga Socks. If we take a deeper look into the origins of the practice, however, we will be surprised to find that all of these, although good additions, have little to do with the real practice and have more to do with making a fashion statement. This article outlines the original philosophy behind the popular workout and asks an important question-“Are these accessories really necessary?”
Yoga is believed to have developed in India and other parts of the East many centuries ago, as a means to resolve internal conflict and find peace with the realities of life. It was a means by which the practitioner could eventually realise his or her true nature, which would then make it easier to change negative habits and thought patterns, leading to a richer understanding of human existence. The practice involves physical poses, called asanas and psychological processes in the form of meditation. The practice also involves changing one’s habits in order to perform righteous action in life, thus improving how one lives.
The practice was also a means to attain liberation from samsara, or the ancient belief that the soul is constantly reborn to fulfil its karma. Yogis were originally seekers that were searching for a deeper understanding of the world, of god and of nature, trying to learn more about the reasons behind existence on this planet. They are often associated with saintly beings that wandered from place to place, often living solitary lives and dwelling in caves, on mountains and in secluded forests. They believed that the world of material existence is impermanent, an illusion that would end and that desire is what brought about the rebirth of a soul until it had dealt with all of its karmic balance and attained liberation.
Modern yoga became popular over time as the practice was learned by spiritual seekers from different parts of the world, who were influenced by religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, which have their roots in the philosophy. As these people were not used to the practice, finding the poses uncomfortable and sitting for long hours a daunting task, they began to come up with ways in which they could make it easier.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Yoga became more popular than ever before, due to yogis who travelled to different parts of the world to teach people the benefits of following the yogi lifestyle. As more people followed the philosophy, they began to find ways to make the practice easier for someone who wasn’t used to it, developing special mats made of rubber, which would prevent slipping and injuries during practice. Prior to this, yoga was performed on straw mats and rugs made from animal skin, the tiger in particular and it wasn’t uncommon for a yogi to be seated on tiger skin while meditating.
After this came special cushions for meditation, since most people in modern times were not used to sitting cross-legged on the floor, especially for the long hours that the practice demands. As these inventions slowly gained popularity, there was an entire industry ready to cater to the needs of people interested in the practice, since there was now a possibility of earning revenue due to the demand for these products. Today, we have a plethora of brands that cater to the practice, with companies all over the world supplying yoga equipment, including some of the most well known sports goods manufacturers. The Yoga Mat is still the most popular product aimed at yoga practitioners, which now comes in different colours, made of everything from PVC to Eco-friendly materials like cotton and jute.
The products do appeal to people, especially the ones who are just starting their journey along this path, but a large number of professionals maintain that these products aren’t really necessary and in some cases, could also be a hindrance. With the practice becoming more fitness oriented, however, many others believe that it is essential to have products that make the practice safer, since many people today use it to stay in shape and aren’t interested in the deeper philosophy associated with this ancient science.
Whatever the reason is that you personally practice Yoga and wether you use the products or not, Yoga is a beautiful practice for both mental and physical health and wellbeing. Give a class a go today at our Loganholme studio and be sure to check out our new client specials.