Adonis Diaries

Is the origin of Yoga that relevant? What is Yoga Sutra or physical postures?

Posted on: May 1, 2011


Is the origin of Yoga that relevant? What is Yoga Sutra or physical postures?

It is common to witness clubs, spas, and religious centers offering yoga sessions to over 16 million US individuals, not counting those practicing yoga in Europe, Australia, China, Japan, and everywhere else.

There are about 195 aphorisms comprising the Yoga Sutra, only 3 of them are related to the asanas or physical postures, including stretching and respiratory exercises.  This type of physical posture yoga is Hatha Yoga.

You have the Iyengor & Sivananda methods, the ashtanaga vinyasa or dynamic methods (Pattabhi Jois), and the more recent Bikram methods. The Mahabharata never mentioned yoga and the Bhagavat Gita mentioned yoga only twice.

It appears that hatha yoga is a creation of the Kanphata sect in northern India around the 10th century.  This sect was composed of sadhus, ascetics with long ached powdered hair, not appreciated by the clerics of the Hinduism religion.

There are currently 200 asanas reported in the Yoga Bible, published my master Iyengar (2009).  If we realize that the combined manuscripts of hatha yoga Pradipika (14the century) , Gheranda Samhita, and Shiva Samhita (17 th century mentioned only 15 asanas, how the remaining 185 asanas were developed?

Krishnamacharya (1930) based his 30 asanas on the Sritattvanidhi (19th century) manuscript found in the library of maharaja of Mysore.

Consequently, most of the 200 asanas currently practiced are innovations done by Yogis in Europe and the USA, particularly in Denmark, Sweden, and England in the last century.

Based on these facts, does the US lobby Hindu American Foundation (HAF) have any claims to accusing the western yoga circles of “intellectual property theft”?

If even the yoga concept cannot be attributed to India as the origin source of inspiration, how can you properly document the idea of yoga that is over 5000 years old?

Note 1: You may read “Yoga Body. The origins of modern posture practice” by Mark Singleton (2010)

Note 2:  This post is a concise translation of an article by Meera Nanda, published in Courrier International #1067.

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May 2011

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