Tag Archives: westernization of yoga

Another Yoga Scandal

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the latest via Yoga Dork on the John Friend/Anusara scandal… wicca, adultery, and money — oh my!

“Every girl wears yoga pants”

Yoga pants banned in schools.
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Leslie Kaminoff – Review of “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards,” by William J. Broad

http://yogaanatomy.net

Western Yoga Guilt: Should I wear a mala?

Malas:  The New Yoga Status Symbol
via Yoga Modern by

Whether you’re male, or female fashion is a great way to express creativity, and personality on a daily basis.

While I love bringing a sense of style into my yoga practice, I am not so sure how I feel about bringing yoga into my style. 

I have noticed an increasing amount of individuals sporting malas through out studios and community events, and I wonder if they are being worn as a symbol of devotion or merely as a fashion statement.  While searching the yogasphere I came across a mock ad on Yoga Dawg that poked fun at how sacred objects are often commercialized and treated by “western yogis” as trendy accessories rather than worn for their intended spiritual purpose.

The YogaDawg Sadhu Fall Collection

Top to Bottom

Vedic Face Paint
Lotus Joy Premium Yoga Club
Mellow Yellow Chakra Yoga Shirt
Holy Moly Far Out Yoga Bead Set
Mellow Yellow Chakra Yoga Pants

While it is common in the Hindu religion to wear malas around the neck, it is typically used to practice devotion towards a deity. Malas are used to express one’s respect and service to that god, and it’s considered disrespectful to wear the beads flippantly or without intention. Devotees are expected to be disciplined in spiritual practices that are deserving of the malas and the blessings they come with.

For example, many people wear the rudraksha mala in observance of the Lord Shiva. Devotees take certain measures that show respect, including the use of rituals and prayers to purify the beads, and they remove the beads when consuming alcohol, attending a funeral, having sex, and for women during menstruation.

I know very few yogis in the United States who take the same precautions when adorning themselves with malas. Most of us aren’t even aware that such precautions exist. continue reading

The Most Unusual Places for Yoga via Yoga Download

Yoga flash mobs and yoga in Heathrow airport…

Put your yoga where your mouth/wallet/etc. is

A couple of well-timed blog posts at Think Body Electric and Tikkun Daily.

An excerpt from “Politics, Spirituality, and Postmodern Malaise“:

Really taking it all in like that, however, is fucking hard. And it poses a challenge that’s utterly absent in the way that these ideas tend to manifest in yoga circles, where there’s an implicit insistence that being properly “spiritual” means staying locked inside some pastel-colored bubble where everything looks beautiful and right and good – PERIOD. No unpleasant issues raised; no difficult questions asked.

And from “Yoga for War:  Politics of the Divine“:

Does any of this upset your yogic sensibilities? Do you think there should be no OM in the office? No bakasana on the battleship? No hero pose in boot camp? Isn’t yoga about peace, compassion and love?

I highlight these examples not because I think yoga doesn’t belong in the army, but rather to question an assumption many yoga and spiritual practitioners make. It’s the belief that spiritual liberation is inherently socially or culturally revolutionary.

Elephant Journal: Where did the Sutras go?

on Nov 16, 2010

The Oprah-fication of Patanjali: Culturally Homogenizing the Yoga Sutra.

If you’re involved with yoga, sooner or later (depending on what method you’re doing) you’ll encounter the Yoga Sutra (YS).

Written by the mysterious Patanjali way back around 250 B.C.E., this cryptic collection of 195 short statements (“sutras” or aphorisms), is by far the closest thing to a common sacred text that we’ve got in the yoga community today.

On one level, I love this. In a culture where knowledge of what happened two months ago regularly gets thrown in the trash bin of forgotten history, it’s exciting to discover that so many people care about a truly ancient text.

But.

More often than not, I find myself irritated by the way that the YS’s treated by American yogis.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I think that it’s safe to assume that the YS was not written as a feel-good text for more-or-less-normal 21st century Americans like me.

Which is why it gets my goat when I keep running across smarmy paeans to “how-the-Yoga-Sutra-can-help-you-be-the-best-healthy-and-happy-you!” (Perhaps accompanied by “five easy poses for everlasting bliss” you can do in 15 minutes or less . . . )

OK, I’m being snarky. But consider how articles such as the tellingly entitled “Paths to Happiness” (published in Yoga Journal) seek to assure us that the YS fits oh-so-comfortably into our contemporary culture:

Centuries ago, the great sage Patanjali laid out a kind of map—one that suggests not just asana and meditation but also attitudes and behaviors—to help you chart your own course to contentment.

At first glance, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra . . . may seem esoteric and impenetrable. But the ancient manual is worth a closer look, because it contains essential advice for daily living. ‘Patanjali has offered us guidelines that will allow us to have enhanced emotional and mental well-being and a more fulfilling and meaningful life . . . The Yoga Sutra is specifically designed to lead to greater happiness and spiritual fulfillment for you and everyone around you.’

Um, really? That’s funny, because I thought that the YS was about realizing Samadhi, or “assimilation with pure Being.”

But wait, you may say – what’s the difference? Isn’t Samadhi just another term for “happiness”? Like that blissful feeling I get seeing an amazing sunset or playing with my cute puppy in the garden?

Not to be a party pooper, but . . . really, I don’t think so.

 

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