The belief in some progressive circles that yoga is an elite lifestyle indulgence and a distraction from serious issues is a mistaken one. Yoga is more than a set of physical postures for the rich to look beautiful. It is a philosophical worldview that connects the spiritual and social worlds elegantly and may one day achieve what Marxism's many struggles have failed to do.
The yoga studios that have sprouted across the United States are catering not simply to some commercialised narcissism as sceptics in India might suspect, but also to a growing discourse about what it means to live ethically in a global society scarred by greed, inequality and environmental destructiveness. Yoga magazines and retreats talk not only about health and peace of mind, but also about issues like sustainability and ending exploitation.
In India too, the discourse around yoga that is emerging in less privileged and less westernised social contexts is marked by a powerful critique of the normalised practices of today's society such as consumerism and junk food. Some of this discourse might sound naively nativist, but that part might well be a response to the entrenched disdain in the Indian elite consensus for things spiritual or Indian, rather than any deep 'yogic' antipathy.