Are you misusing yoga?
Pegged to BKS Iyengar’s passing this week, the Washington Post — which we link to far less than the New York Times or even the LA Times — has a religion column online that makes a very NYT-ish claim: That Iyengar’s passing “revives a debate about whether most Western practitioners are misusing yoga, misunderstanding it as primarily a way to firm their bodies when the physical practices traditionally are just a segment of what is meant to achieve a transformational world view.”
Here’s a link to the column.
As best as I can tell, the “debate” the WaPo mentions is based on one Iyengar teacher who put out a “release about Iyengar’s passing and sought to emphasize the late guru’s spiritual focus.”
I can tell you, as someone who follows and watches way more of the Western yoga world than I ever thought I would, I haven’t noticed this as a trend at all. I’ve seen some concern about the nature of Iyengar’s passing (in a hospital versus what people would like to be a more peaceful setting) and I’ve seen a lot of people passing on quotes from him. Mostly, I’ve seen people thanking Iyengar for helping spread yoga to the West — specifically, for helping bring yoga to their lives. (Oh, and it has given occasion for the NYT’s William Broad to get on mainstream news programs, including one here in LA — in fact, broadcast out of Santa “Yoga” Monica, and repeat his broad claims about yoga, which never fit with my knowledge and understanding, and to talk about how dangerous yoga can be.)
I haven’t seen any debates about whether we are misusing yoga. This week, anyway.
Posted by Steve