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What the Future Holds

Who can predict the future of yoga? No one, of course, but we talk to some experts and make a few serious and not-so-serious prognostications. Take a look at our scenarios and see if they match your own imaginings.

By John Hanc

Sonic Yoga NYC co-director Jonathan Fields (who suggested some of the futuristic hybrids) agrees. "I don't see a backlash against hybridization but more of an evolution toward more complementary partners, such as the martial arts, tai chi, and qi gong," he says.

Rod Stryker, who founded Pure Yoga and lives in Aspen, Colorado, is less sanguine. "I think we're going to exhaust the hybridization of yoga in the next 5 or 10 years," he says. "There's only so many of these you can come up with."

Then again, he's never tried Yoguba.

It's unlikely yoga will be outlawed in 25 years, but there has been resistance to it from different religious quarters. Some fundamentalist Christian ministers, suspicious of its Hindu associations, discourage their followers from practicing it. Other religious leaders caution that yoga puts undue emphasis on the body, to the detriment of the soul.

Jill Ross, co-owner of Collage Video in Minneapolis—one of the country's largest exercise video dealers—says one of her seasonal employees quit after learning that Collage stocked yoga videos. "She was a born-again Christian," Ross says. "She told me her minister said yoga was evil."

Of course, many devout Christians practice yoga regularly and see no contradiction in the two. "I strongly suspect yoga's trajectory will go in the opposite direction," says Stephen Cope, director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. "Our culture has been interested in the health and fitness benefits but will gradually come to understand and admire the way yoga transforms all aspects of life." Still, there may be problems in the short term. "But I believe that in 25 years, mainstream religion will have come to see that the purpose of yoga is not to create converts or take them away from Christianity or any other religion ... that the real intent of yoga is to help them develop a sense of clarity, health, and well-being in their lives," Stryker says.

And if we're lucky, we'll see Sharon Gannon's prediction come true. "By the year 2030," says the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City, "I like to think the yogis now practicing will be much more enlightened and will help save our planet from destruction."

John Hanc is a contributing writer at Newsday and the author of five books, including The Essential Runner (Lyons, 1994).

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