A group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.
The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.
I find the want to own the “debt” of Yoga — and its embedded history — is a fool’s ploy to gain attention for a few, narcissistic, individuals who are bored with life.
Yoga, in its essence, is only about about capturing and releasing the energy of the world back into the world with greater clarity and density — and if we have to pay back a psychic tax to Hinduism every time we raise our arms or fold our legs or raise our faces to the sun — the very notion of Yoga is discredited and made decrepit.
Here’s how the whole “Take Back Yoga” debacle started:
Shortly after being told by Yoga Journal that “Hinduism carries too much baggage,” the Foundation formulated its stance on this important issue with the release of its paper Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice, quoting extensively from both the legendary yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar as well as his son, Prashant Iyenagar. The stance paper highlights not only the delinking of yoga from its Hindu roots, but also the erroneous idea that yoga is primarily a physical practice based on asana. Yoga covers a wide array of practices, embodied in eight “limbs,” which range from ethical and moral guidelines to meditation on the Ultimate Reality. Asana is merely one “limb” which as become the crux of Western yoga practice.
Are you buying into that argument or not?
Must we first acknowledge the roots of Yoga in Hinduism if we hope to properly practice Yoga in our current, mainstream, modern-day lives?
When does a binding history begin to foster, and then spread, Bad Karma into the world from healthy, strong bodies that prefer the freedom of the mind instead of being tethered to a required, religious, ritualism?