On the burden of ‘practicing yoga’

Continuing with our ongoing theme, “What is yoga exactly,” we come to this:

Nevada (US), Nov 11 (ANI): Hindus are upset at what they call as “sexploitation” of yoga.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that yoga was a serious mental and physical discipline by means of which the human-soul (jivatman) united with universal-soul (parmatman).

But for mercantile greed, market seemed to be flooded with books, magazines, DVDs, and other media showing yoga as some kind of potion to enhance sex life.

Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that it was simply misuse of age old and revered system of yoga.

The piece goes on to list a bunch book and magazine titles that emphasize how yoga can help with your sex life. We’ve all seen them, right?

And it adds this:

Rajan Zed further says that some sages have described yoga as the silencing of all mental transformations, which leads to the total realization of the Supreme Self. Some have used yoga attempting to gain liberation by removing all sensory barriers. According to Patanjali, author of the basic text, the Yoga Sutra, yoga is a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

That description, of course, is why to a certain extent — well, his — the Christian pastor lambasting yoga as demonic is right. And it is why I raise my eyebrows when “yoga” is used to describe what amounts to an exercise program.

But it also is right at the line where I have to do a little self-inquiry, too. Who am I to say I “do yoga” or, even worse, “am a yogi”? Is it fair to even say I have an Atman? Am I not just cloaking myself in something market-driven?

Obviously, I hope not. I try not to have that be the case, but I can’t help feeling like it is lurking just out of my line of sight, just beyond my frame of reference. I hope it keeps me a bit honest with the practice, a little humble, perhaps even “grounded.”

But I also worry about how it holds me back. If I’m questioning, what am I not quite reaching for in those moments?

Posted by Steve


Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “On the burden of ‘practicing yoga’”

  1. the practice is one thing, but the practice prepares the mind for meditation, something that is missed in many classes. that is the only portal that can possibly lead to further observation of the oneness. it is my opinion that the common line “meditation in motion” while doing asana is for really advanced practitioners, like maybe full second series guys.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s