When did yoga lose its zen?

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There once was a time, I believe, that yoga was the sort of thing you either did in the privacy of your bedroom, in a hippy studio or out at an ashram.

A large part of the practice was meditation, becoming calm and at one with yourself and the world around you.

And then, suddenly, it all kicked off and every Pure Gym started offering Vinyasa Flows and Instagram became flooded with professional acrobats masquerading as yogis.

Yoga’s zen, in London at least, seems to have been totally disrupted.

Of course, yoga isn’t just about the zen.

It’s one of the most effective workouts for unscrewing tight hip flexors, for working on better posture, loosening up hamstrings, tightening the core – you name it, yoga can train it. They say that for every hour of ying practice you do (weight training, cardio, etc), you should try to do an hour of yang (stretching, mobility, breathing).

It was only a matter of time before our obsession with HIIT training and bootcamps also saw an explosion in new yoga studios and classes being offered.

As more and more businesses and influencers try to cash in on our very real need for mental space and flexibility training, yoga seems to move further away from its origins.

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Go to many classes in big gyms and you’ll struggle to find anything remotely spiritual going on there.

Take last weekend for example.

We went to Balance Festival – a big fitness fiesta in the Truman Brewery. Upon the main stage, straight after a Carly Rowena ab-busting class and a Ministry Does Fitness HIIT session, Girls v Boys of Yoga took over.

In this big, loud warehouse full of excitable, sweaty fitspo lovers, these big shot yogis were about to take about 100 people through a flow.

As we were exiting the space following from the class before, someone yelled over: ‘Get the f*ck off my mat with your grubby trainers, I’m about to practise on that!’

Now, whether this person realised or not that we’d literally just spent the previous hour burpeeing on that mat with our trainers on and our sweaty bellies rubbing into the fabric, it seemed like rather an overreaction. It felt like we were not longer welcome in a space reserved for supposedly helping people better connect with themselves and their surroundings.

After all, a fitness festival is hardly conducive to a relaxing flow. And some might argue that turning up to a session that fired up goes against what yoga is all about.

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