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

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “Are you misusing yoga?”

  1. Nice post.
    Makes me think if there is such as misusing yoga at all?
    Why don’t we let people take as much as they can or want from practising, and rather focus our attention to ourselves instead of trying to figure out what it is meant to be?

  2. “Misusing” may not be the right word. It is hard to describe the feeling of seeing Hilaria Baldwin share the same cover of Yoga Journal as Iyengar. “Disconnect” may be a better term.

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