Stern on yoga as religion, Iggy Pop and the fallacies of Dowd

I’ve been seeing some photos on Facebook purporting to be work going on at the Ashtanga Yoga New York studio. I wasn’t sure I was making proper sense of them.

Seemingly, I was. There’s work a plenty going on there, and that has Eddie Stern behind on his news. But he catches up on Tuesday (a Moon Day… any coincidence?).

His latest is here and includes more on Iggy Pop’s backbend and two New York Times stories we highlighted over the weekend. I’m sure I’m being sensationalistic when I say he takes them both down. Two excerpts:

In Mary Billard’s October 7th article in the New York Times, titled “In Schools, Yoga Without the Spiritual”, the issue of whether yoga is a religion, or part of a religion, is further confused by equating spirituality with religion.


Further, we should not confuse the use of a foreign language, like Sanksrit, with religion and thereby exclude it from schools. That would be like not teaching Latin because it is used by the Pope.

He goes on to dive more deeply into something Krishnamacharya and adds this: “What was left out of Billard’s article was that Bent On Learning teaches from the very first class that yoga is a practice of kindness – for oneself, one’s neighbor, and the space that one inhabits. This is the essence of yoga, made approachable for the needs of the kids in the public school system – teachers and administration, too.”

That seems a pretty solid “definition” of yoga to me.

Stern’s reaction to Maureen Dowd’s piece on an upcoming book on yoga perhaps is best summed up in the “headline” he gives it: “Oh, Maureen, Why?”

Maureen Dowd’s October 8th op-ed piece, titled “How Gardo Learned to Stand on Her Head“, was made all the more annoying by the fact that the book she is writing about, William Broad’s “The Science of Yoga”, is not due out till February, 2012. So we can’t even read it to check to see if he provides any solid science for some of the silly things Ms Dowd attributes to him.


For Ms Dowd to flippantly pull such quotes from a book that cannot yet be referenced seems, to me, irresponsible towards the field and study of yoga.

There you have it. I guess we can assume Dowd doesn’t practice at AYNY.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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