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Sahasranama
21 April 2011, 10:11 AM
For centuries in India, yoga has been a practice rooted in the Hindu faith. Today, it is a massively popular fitness tradition in the United States, part of a wellness lifestyle for some 15 million Americans. And some Hindus are not happy with the way yoga is treated in the US. The Hindu American Foundation claims the tradition has strayed too far from its Hindu roots and has launched a campaign called 'Take Back Yoga.' In Tell Me More's weekly "Faith Matters" conversation, guest host Farai Chideya puts the question, "who owns yoga?" to Sheetal Shah of the Hindu American Foundation, and Virginia Cowen, a yoga instructor and body trainer.

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/24/134822766/Has-Yoga-Strayed-Too-Far-From-Its-Hindu-Roots

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/23/c1main.yoga2.cnn.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9im79yl_Al8

karna
21 April 2011, 12:37 PM
If that's Sheetal, I'd like to join HAF right away.;)

Just a joke, hope the moral police doesn't jump down my throat.

PARAM
21 April 2011, 12:53 PM
Respect to Sheetal Shah ji who is working for Dharma against Adharm.

Believer
21 April 2011, 05:36 PM
It is very encouraging to read about the efforts of Sheetal through HAF to recapture the ownership of Yoga. But the true and lasting association of Yoga to Hinduism will be established only when more and more Hindus make it a part of their daily lives. Providing lip service only goes so far; action speaks louder than words.

Eastern Mind
21 April 2011, 06:05 PM
But the true and lasting association of Yoga to Hinduism

Vannakkam Believer: In my experience, the average Hindu is almost as likely to have the disconnect as a mental structure as the westerner, especially pertaining to hatha yoga. Not quite so bad as with meditation though, as you do see people sitting quietly in many temples at least appearing to meditate. Perhaps it is the divide and conquer strategy of you know who, but on the mental plain. Just some odd conjecture, that.

Aum Namasivaya

Sahasranama
21 April 2011, 06:45 PM
I do agree, more Hindus need to practice yoga if they want to reclaim it. But I can also understand why Hindus don't feel invited to go to a yoga class. Often there's such a disconnect between Hinduism and yoga class that Hindus don't feel at home in a yoga class. Westerners, and even some Indians like Chopra and Bikram, have done a lot to make yoga palatable to atheists and abrahamics, systematically removing any connection with its underlying philosophy and culture and replacing it with new agy mumbo jumbo. There are some styles of yoga that are not afraid to use Hindu symbols and chant mantras before the class and at the end and even pray to Hindu deities. A lot of yoga teachers though have stopped even chanting an opening mantra for peace, because many westerners feel uncomfortable with it. This has a lot to do with marketing, the customer is king for the yoga teacher and this affects how yoga is taught commercially.

Personally, I do not care how many Hindu elements the teachers are leaving out in class. I will reintegrate the practice myself with Hinduism, through svadhyaya and ishvara pranidhana. I am inspirted reading the works of great yogis like Krishnamacharya, Iyengar, Shivananda, Kuvalayananda and knowing about the classic texts of yoga like the yoga sutras, its commentaries, the yoga yajnavalkya samhita, the yoga rahasya, the yogopanishads and the tantrik hatha yoga texts like the yoga pradipika, gheranda samhita and shiva samhita. I have not read all of that, but it does me good to know that there are so many sources within Hinduism to learn more about yoga.

We should not expect too much from the average yoga instructor. Most of them are certified after 200 or 500 hours of teacher training. Few have taken svadhyaya (which means studying of moksha shastras according to the commentator vyasa on the sutras of patanjali) to heart and even less have really dedicated themselves to authentic Hinduism (instead of new age). Maybe it's in the nature of yoga, that in its authentic form, it will never be populair. Even in India Baba Ramdev and Shilpa Shetty are watering down yoga. Yoga for a better sex life will be populair among the masses even in India. Enlightment after a weekend retreat will always be a source of curiosity for people. Yoga to cure some health problems has also attracted me towards the practice. Maybe it's all not so bad if among the thousands of people who get into yoga, most will benefit in some way or another and a select few will get serious about Hinduism, the root of all yoga practices. I will have to remain humble even when learning from an average yoga instructor who knows nothing more than asana, pranayama and some meditation. When the devas needed to learn sanjivini mantra, even they had to go to the asuras.

yajvan
21 April 2011, 07:47 PM
hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~~

namasté



"who owns yoga?"

...is like saying, who owns knowledge.

praṇām

Ramakrishna
22 April 2011, 12:49 AM
Namaste,


hariḥ oṁ
~~~~~~

namasté


...is like saying, who owns knowledge.

praṇām


I agree, the language and rhetoric used in this Take Back Yoga campaign isn't exactly the best. Hinduism doesn't "own" yoga. It is a universal practice that anyone can engage in. What most Hindus want is just recognition that yoga originated in Hinduism and for westerners (and even some Indians) to stop denying that and trying to disprove it.

Over the past few months I have begun doing basic hatha yoga exercises daily.

Jai Sri Ram

Sahasranama
22 April 2011, 03:45 AM
hariḥ oṁ
namasté

...is like saying, who owns knowledge.

praṇām

HAF has really put themselves in an awkward position after Aseem Shukla made a comment about "the copyright" of yoga. Now everyone is asking "Who owns yoga?" This question is unfair. Yes, it is like asking "who owns knowledge?" A better question would be "how is this knowledge defined?" and to answer that it's imperitive to look at the Hindu scriptures.

Even though the interviewer came in with the question "who owns yoga," Sheetal Shah was still able to make some good points.
Western yoga publications avoid mentioning the word Hindu and would rather couple yoga with Christian mysticism and Buddhism.
Westerners do not have a good understanding of what Hinduism is, that's why a lot of them try to deny the fertile soil of Hinduism that gave rise to the practice of yoga and say things like "yoga is beyond all religions" or "yoga is the science of all religions." No, yoga is not beyond Hinduism, it's not different from Hinduism. David Frawley explains in his article: "The original teachings of yoga, from patanjali back to Hiranyagarbha." (http://www.vedanet.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=133)
Abrahamics, atheists and materialists will eventually meet a conundrum with their own faith and yoga. Hence the most conservative Christians have opposed the practice of yoga and have even tried to find alternatives, like Praise Moves (http://praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga/) and the less conservative have invented "Christian yoga" or "Kabbalah yoga" which is just an oxymoron. Atheist will be sceptic about yoga and will use it only so far as it is a useful mental or physical exercise. Materialists will only use yoga as far as it helps them enjoy their lives. Only those who look into Hinduism can become purna yogis.
Sheetal Shah has made a good point saying even if people don't agree with us, they are now putting the word Hindu and yoga in the same sentence. It's true, I have seen people surprised after hearing that yoga has it's roots in Hinduism. Some thought it was from China or that it was a form of Buddhism.

Eastern Mind
22 April 2011, 08:22 AM
Vannakkam: Personally, I think what got to a lot of Hindus who object or raise these questions, was when yoga teachers made strong statements absolutely refuting the connection of yoga and Hinduism is some condescending manner. (Read 'Chopra' into this, but others as well) Hindus are just quite sick of being spoken to in a condescending way. We had enough from the ilk of MacAuley.

I'm fine with anyone doing yoga of course, as long as it makes them a better person.

Aum Namasivaya