Taking Stock in the New Year

At the end of last year, the Hindu American Foundation launched a “campaign” called “Take Back Yoga” that essentially encouraged people to recognize the influence Hinduism has had on the modern yoga world.

Launched quite peacefully through its own website and various scholarly publications, the campaign ignited some controversy and reaction from Deepak Chopra and others who took issue with the campaign’s interpretation of the history of yoga–namely when yoga actually began. (Most people, including myself were taught that the creation of yoga began in the Vedic age, long before the start of Hinduism.) How do you take back yoga when you didn’t create it? they asked and then largely dismissed the campaign as a case of misguided Hindu nationalism.

“In a way,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, the Hindu American Foundation’s co-founder, “our issue is that yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand.”

Yoga is real, powerful, and mysterious. I can say with the utmost respect that yoga has been a real blessing in my life for many different reasons at different times. I have been fortunate to meet many really wonderful people in ways I never would have without practicing yoga—in its many forms of study, teaching and personal practice.

Yoga has also positively influenced the overall health, minds and bodies of millions of others. At the same time yoga has grown so fast without boundaries that it’s hard to get a handle on what is happening these days.

Someone was bound to say something.

Crazy, Sexy Skinny Bitch Yoga, Golden Buns Yoga Booty, Kick Your Asana, Giggle Yoga, Not Yoga Yoga, Sculptasana, Yoga & Whistling, Hoga, Toga Yoga. I wouldn’t be surprised to be invited to a yoga and Hippity Hop class on Facebook soon.

Yoga has thrived, but yoga has lost control of the brand.

It’s for people who wouldn’t normally try yoga because they aren’t into traditional formalities like Sanskrit language, chanting or rules, People say. Nobody owns yoga so it’s not breaking any law.

True, the great thing about yoga is that anyone can do it and that there are enough caring teachers and places out there offering yoga. There’s nothing wrong with specialty classes, being lighthearted and having fun. But it gets to the point where you start combining any activity with yoga and place it before or after the name yoga and suddenly it’s a new kind of yoga? Or does it start watering down a product so much that it starts to change it into something else entirely?
I want yoga to continue to grow and make an authentic, positive impact on even more people. Twenty years from now, I want to see yoga integrated into health care treatments to help cancer patients not be remembered the same way when you say the words step aerobics today.

I’m glad the Hindu American Foundation said something even though it’s not the way everyone sees it. I’d rather us pay homage to our roots and think a little bit more instead of trying to creatively market yoga into every imaginable activity out there this year.

If we don’t, we may be headed to a place we don’t want to go. In fact, we’re already there.

There is a new Chase Bank commercial of a woman doing standing bow pose, She’s very focused and in great alignment when suddenly, something breaks her attention at the top of her mat. It’s her cell phone of course letting her know her account balance is low. Not to worry, in one graceful move she bends down and transfers money from her phone into her account “keeping her life in balance” as the narrator says and she calmly exits the pose.

B’onlineyoga. Balance your Bills while Balancing your life. Save time. Take time…for yourself.  Bring your own iPhone, iPad or Blackberry.

Think maybe the Hindu American Foundation has a few valid points?

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]

Comments are closed.