Many consider Los Angeles the epicenter of all things yoga in the United States. Thousands of yoga teachers hustle day in and day out to provide instruction to exponentially more students across a dense landscape. And the seemingly endless growth of this billion-dollar-a-year industry has bled into other facets of life: what we eat, what we wear, what we drink, how we think, what we listen to, who we revere — what we consume in general.
The amalgam of what yoga has become in the West came together in early January with The Yoga Expo at the Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Upon approach, you’ll hear the murmur of voices, background “yoga music” and an instructor on a microphone. Friendly volunteers accepted $25 payments and welcomed guests in. In the large open space, there were about 60 yoga mats closely layered across the floor, filled with eager practitioners.
Just beyond the open practice was the warehouse-sized room that hosted numerous vendors, businesses and artists hoping to spread awareness and information (something I like to call “awaretion”…it’ll catch on, I’m almost certain.) Decorating the walls and corners of this large space were yogis (a better term might be acrobats) performing what felt like a hybrid of gymnastics and break dancing. It turns out there were a few competitors in Asana performance-type tournaments and competitions, an odd and very American phenomenon to arise out of yoga’s popularity.