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When yoga turns into a scam

Posted by / April 7, 2019

Yoga is a strange phenomenon. It’s not exactly an exercise, and it’s not exactly a spiritual practice. Rather, it’s a bit of both. It’s also a business––though its practitioners may not like to think of it that way. Because yoga is not entirely one thing, it is the perfect place for unscrupulous people to make money.

A recent New York Times article describes how many yogi practitioners get duped into signing up for teacher trainings. These trainings are touted as a way to deepen one’s yoga practice and make extra money. The problem is, they’re not cheap. One woman describes paying $1,500 for the actual course, and then another $500 for a more training––training that she did not know about at first. She believed that she would be able to earn that back by teaching courses, but the studio that convinced her to do the training, a national chain called Core Power, has not given her an opportunity to teach. As a result, she’s saddled with debt.

This is, of course, nothing new in American religious history. In the mid 1800s, two practices spread like wildfire around the country: mesmerism and phrenology. Both were touted as both spiritual and medical phenomenon, and “experts” in the tradition sold their knowledge in the form of trainings. Eventually, the practices were exposed as pseudoscience and died out. Yoga may not be going anywhere, but teacher trainings may eventually be outed.

More about religion.

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  • yoga is great for your body and your health not for scam