Sep 15, 2009

Yoga in the news - I

[We have not been updating this blog regularly and regret to say that we’d be as infrequent for some more time. However, we couldn’t help responding to recent newspaper reports relating to yoga. As we found that this post was getting rather long, we have divided it into two posts.]

In the recent times, yoga has been covered quite a lot in the US and Indian media. (Maybe, in other countries as well). The following five reports interested us quite a bit, and we have given our response to each of them.

One, a concern has been raised in the US that the new generation is taking to yoga and the Hindu thought that God is one. This is said to be against Christianity.

We hold that yoga should be practised in its true, whole, form to the extent possible. This includes asanas, pranayamas and some other exercises, and also means a new way of thinking / living in which you work for ‘union’ [yoga= joining together; sum total] with your body, the nature, the ultimate reality. However, if this thought interferes with your belief system even a bit, do leave the ‘yoga= union’ philosophy aside and just practise asanas, pranayams and other simple procedures and get all the health benefits you can get out of them.

Two, there are reports that the US government is planning to control the mushrooming yoga teaching schools. What the reports also say is that yoga teachers have united to stop this in some states. The intention of the government is stated to be to get tax revenue out of this booming profession.

Why not? If you are earning, do pay taxes. Moreover, part of the tax can be passed on to the rich yoga enthusiasts, and there is no dearth of them. Not all, but the established teachers / schools can just increase their rates; in a consumerist society, the costlier a commodity, the better branding it gets, no?

Three, an interview by Bikarm Chaudhary (the yoaga guru, who has ‘invented’ Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga) claiming that his yoga can cure all ailments. He has also stated that he has trained thousands of people in his type of yoga and yoga teachers are earning many thousand dollars a year.

Bikram doesn’t need our good wishes and still, we wish him all the best in curing people. If his experiment is really beneficial and has no side effects, he has a legitimate right to sell it and make money. Patenting a set of exercises to be done in a particular manner too seems OK, but it is perhaps not OK to patent yoga asanas, which are a human heritage belonging to all.

[Our earlier posts on these subjects can be seen under 'yoga : general', 'yoga teacher' and 'religion and yoga' labels in the left column].