Harvard University Divinity School scholar Roman Palitsky’s article from Religion Dispatches Magazine takes an analytical approach to identifying and analyzing the development of this ancient practice into what we know today as Yoga.
Taken from Religion Dispatches magazine:
Is Yoga Hindu?
Yes, but it’s been influenced by Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, television, military calisthenics, Swedish gymnastics and the YMCA., as well as radical Hindu nationalism
Last month, the Take Yoga Back campaign of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) got a leg up when the New York Times ran an article about their movement to reclaim yoga’s soul. The campaign aims to spread awareness that yoga originated in Hinduism, drawing on arguments that will resonate with many yoga practitioners and Hindus. HAF Spokesperson and co-founder Suhag Shukla bemoans a loss of Hindu identity in yoga that corresponds with an erosion of Hindu identity in general. While the idea is compelling, it also has considerable flaws.
Shukla and her allies claim that yoga is being separated from its Hindu roots by the new age and fitness cultures of America, and by a generally irreverent modernity. She stresses in a Dec. 3rd Huffington Post piece that the Take Yoga Back movement is not about ownership, but rather about origins. This is a seductive line, suggesting that before the corruptions of modern life there existed an untainted yoga that was coextensive with Hinduism.
A vocal band of scholars have re-mounted the perennial argument that yoga is a Hindu practice because it traces its origins from the ‘proto-Rudra’ seals at Harappa, through the Yoga Sutras and into modernity. B.K.S. Iyengar, a living legend in the world of postural yoga practice, has come out in favor of the movement. Even University of Colorado professor Lorelai Biernacki is cited by the New York Times, attributing not only yoga but meditation itself to Hinduism.
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