Yoga Toys

Wii Fit yoga
Photo Credit: boomcella

I’ve avoided writing about the Wii Fit yoga videogame and yoga action figures, as making the practice of yoga into a form of amusement rubs me the wrong way. Yes, it does expose a whole different section of the population to the physical experience of yoga asana, but does it support the growth of yoga’s authenticity, or reduce it to a cellophane wrapped novelty item to be sold in a decade at the neighborhood yard sale?

Nintendo Wii released Wii Fit in late May. For $89.99 you procure the Wii Fit with the balance board, an add-on to the $249.99 Wii console. The game includes four categories of games: strength, aerobics, balance, and yoga. All games are done in conjunction with the balance board or the Wii-remote. Geared toward physical fitness, it begins by measuring your BMI (body mass index) and assists you in setting goals to reach your ideal weight and fitness level. There are 15 yoga postures included in the game, all of which are apparently taught with the focus on fitness and physical effort. Sure, one couldn’t expect a video game to expound upon the benefits of pranayama and meditation. But is it yoga?

Then there are these new plastic yoga action figures. Created by yoga teacher Raymond Fogleman and made in China, the “3-D Yogis and Yoginis Box of Poses” are designed to assist beginning students visualize asanas in practice. There are 16 figurines in all, eight female and eight male statuettes with a code which corresponds to written instructions.

Fogleman sites army figurines as his inspiration for the statuettes when he realized that the antithesis to a solider would be a yogi. Fogleman hopes that the figurines will encourage children to explore yoga.

I am relieved that the “toys” of yoga actually promote the experience of it in one way or another, but for $340 for the Wii and accessories, you could hop into the nearest yoga studio and take quite a few classes with a qualified instructor. And yoga action figures will make great gag gifts and the office Christmas party, but how many people are actually going to use them to support their practice?

Cashing in on the latest “fad” is the American way, and it seems to be working as the one of the biggest challenges of the Wii Fit was simply finding a store that had them in stock. So as I am trying to see the benefit of a yoga video game, it seems that a good number of fellows are trying it out when their girlfriends and wives are at yoga class. I keep reminding myself that we all had to start somewhere, and in the coming months, the link between virtual yoga asana and actual yoga will become more clear if these explorers choose to dive deeper by attending a class or two with an actual teacher. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Comments 5

  1. Thank you for the post. I’ve been resisting my family’s suggestion that we obtain a wii-fit. I can’t imagine the game actually replacing a genuine practice session.

  2. I’m not a purist and I see anything that gets people giving yoga a go as a good thing. Those that receive the calling to practice further will do so…. those that dont get it wont pursue using it even on the wii. My first exposure to yoga was in 1968 when my friends mother came back from India studying and teaching. At 7 it was all play and we used to chase each other round on our knees in lotus position (oh I wish I had that flexibility now). The West has been cashing in on yoga for the last 40 years this is just another incarnation. Ask any Indian if they have to have special matts, yoga pants etc, etc. I have a wii and the useful aspect of it is that it measures your weight distribution. I broke my back when I was 17 so I find that it provides very good feedback in gaining body awareness. I tend to compensate for my injuries in odd ways and provides feedback as to what I perceive as balance weight distribution isn’t the case.

  3. Wow more exciting comments. What can I say other than my intentions are pure. I love yoga! I practice or teach it 15-25 times a week. My belief is that it can change lives and improve ones situation. I wish for all to try yoga, and yes purchasing a 3D Yogis and Yoginis Box of Poses will give you the best introduction that is available today. It is made w/ recycled plastic and paper/box materials. No it is not a gag gift but something more. Kids love it and adults will be surprised on how useful it is. See http://www.rayzodyssey.com to see for yourself.

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