India is going back to its roots! With the existence of the ‘natural’ concept since eons what has suddenly motivated us to employ them with such zeal? The natural and serene Yoga has found a variant in Power Yoga, a meditative routine calls for a trip to the hills, herbal cosmetics and Ayurvedia medicines with ‘no side effects’ benefit are ‘the’ products to use. And, with chemical infested vegetables in galore, organic food (with sky-rocketing prices) are the new menu addition for the rich and famous.
Take yoga for instance which was like a forgotten treasure: a practice in India that had partly fallen by the wayside and was partly kept private. People may have carried some knowledge of yoga, but it was not something they pursued openly. Yoga was discovered by the West.
Yoga today is not just about getting that perfect shape, but it is more of a fashion symbol. The uptake has also been boosted by the growing popularity of yoga in the US, especially “celebrity styles” such as Bikram yoga, as practised by Madonna and the actor George Clooney. The Indian actress Shilpa Shetty recently produced her own yoga video, and many others are in fray.
Similar is the case with using Ayurveda products. At moments of distress, most Indians recall their grandmother’s home-made Ayurvedic recipes; it comes out naturally, as if Ayurvedic treatment is part of our consciousness. But in the past, no one really bragged about it. The bragging rights were left to imported cosmetics and beauty treatments, expensive medicines and fancy gadgets for healing. However, this scenario is no longer greatly prevalent.
Organic food is another case in point. India is called an agricultural economy for a reason. In earlier times, most Indians had their own farms or orchards. Even if someone just grew carrots in the backyard, it was a matter of pride. “This carrot is from my own backyard” they said. With urbanisation, many things changed including this practice until it was taken up by the West and a sudden inflow of articles and research convinced every one of the benefits of eating organic. And then our great grandparents advice, made sense.
So, what has happened?
We first need to realize what these practices meant to us before it was adapted by the West and became the ‘in’ thing. Yoga had an atmosphere of ‘ancient and back there’. Hearing Sanskrit words was strangely disorienting making us feel like a foreigner in our own home. If anything, yoga was seen as a practice to be followed by only the most devoted: sanyasis and sadhus, those who took the path of renunciation, or by an older person. Ayurvedic and herbal medicines were all around us, concocted by even our house helps, making us think “If it’s that simple, it can’t be very effective”. Similar to another convoluted notion consumers carry. “It’s too cheap, won’t be any good.”
With all benefits of the ‘natural’ route evident since forever, for the shift in perception, credits need to be given to clever packaging and communication strategies too. In metro cities, a new, stressed out generation of middle class Indians are turning to yoga for relaxation and time away from their pressured and busy lives. Some ashrams and yoga centres are beginning to attract not just the customary droves of foreigners, but locals too. Savvy Indian travel agencies are advertising their country as the “land of spirituality”. There are colourful shirts and stoles with Sanskrit mantras to heal the soul; ‘Om’and ‘Swastik’ bangles to increase harmony; kurtas, posters adorned with insightful poems to evoke serenity.
The benefits of going natural and its popularity are like a karmic cycle. The advantages are what have made it popular and the fame is increasing because of the benefits. Whatever the reason, seems like natural is the way to go!