Emptiness versus Belief

Yoga is like a bottle of wine. Yoga is visualized as an oasis of tranquility. Promised through pictures of beautiful bodies in lotus positions. A deep red sun setting behind meditative timeless moments. Harmonious natural colors blending soundlessly with placid faces. The Martini Bianco commercials from the eighties fade in the shadow of yoga-imaging. The Martini Bianco ads used to be the epitome of a James Bond like decadent leisure’s life style, including beautiful women, sailing yachts and everlasting sunset drinks.

My very own Yoga on The Rocks alludes with a wink to these seductive artifacts of our society; yoga like an uplifting desirable sunset drink with a sparkle poured over the crystal luster of dancing ice cubes or, in other words and the American way to describe such thing straightforward: ‘On The Rocks’. Wearing a cool yoga designer outfit, doing our cool yoga thing. There were also those other fabulous impressive cinema commercials. Produced by Marlboro. Tough and tanned cowboys wearing leather hats and checkered ponchos, riding strong horses in vast North American landscapes, offering the audience to dream away. Away from retained little worlds where everything and everyone is the same, always and forever.

Demerit goods are taxed by a Western European government with a much higher levy percentage then essential basics like food and also higher then regular products like furniture or a taxi ride. I say a Western European government because a trip through several Central European countries recently unveiled high alcoholic drinks like vodka in the supermarket to be cheaper then orange juice and a pint or half a liter of beer to be cheaper then tea at a renowned old school terme near Lake Balaton in Slovenia; a place we’re conveniently used at calling a health spa.

Demerit goods offer a passive, non aggressive escape or temporary relief from reality. As opposed to their quick-fit-psychological-relief quality, they impact our general health negatively and produce negative external effects even for non-consumers. Since the individual consumer craves them and basically pays whatever it takes to obtain them, in the long run they cost national governments more if it comes to health care, justifying a higher levy.

So how do I dare compare yoga to a bottle of wine?

Yoga is addictive, like wine
Yoga offers a temporal escape from reality, like wine
Yoga eases stressed out brain cells, like wine 
Yoga offers a studio to go to, like wine offers a bar to visit
Yoga is surrounded by promises of peace of mind and happiness, like wine is surrounded by promises of a Burgundy life style, leisure and joy
Yoga is socially accepted as an escape, like wine is socially accepted as a sedative

So far for the comparisons. The above omits completely that yoga is good for your health and alcohol not so much. Having said that, the longer term cultural dynamic leading towards a socially acceptable life style including yoga and meditation versus the good old duo of a church with a bar outside, fascinates me. While biding my days in the most Catholic country of Europe and therefore presumably the most Christian country of the world since one year now. Yoga isn’t the new big thing here. In Gozo, part of the Maltese archipelago consisting of three small isles. Here locals visit the church and cafés. There’s as many churches as there’s days in a year. One different church to go to every single day of the year. I wonder how many yoga studios Amsterdam counts. I am sure it ain’t eight hundred thousands but translated into square meters of yoga studio space, eight hundred thousand might actually not even be too far off. At least so it seems. The concerns of the Gozitan life style are certainly different from the ones of countless yoga studio members in the bigger cities around the world. I am struck by the controversy between belief and sedating the mind versus emptiness and feeding the body. A new dogma is born. We are gladly seduced by the new enchanting escape. 

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