In “Gandhi Does Yoga,” a tongue-in-cheek video by College Humor, ol’ Mahatma himself rises from the dead to visit the “world’s least Hindu gym.” The yoga instructor, lithe and blonde, considers Gandhi with a tight smile. “Maybe next time try and wear appropriate attire? Maybe a Lycra top?” she asks. Gandhi protests. “This is a traditional Indian dhoti,” he sputters. “I spun it myself.” The instructor gives a false laugh. “Riiight … there’s a Lululemon down the street,” she says.
Yoga, at least the yoga that started in India hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, is a practice defined as much by its physicality as it is its spirituality. But a funny thing happened on the way to enlightenment. For most “yogis” in the United States, the art of the asana is less of a therapeutic discipline than it is a calorie-burning competitive sport.