Friday, November 19, 2010

Yoga 2.0

The revolution may be blog-ivized. Each month brings a new set of revelations/discussions/confrontations on the interwebs about the state of yoga, and it is fascinating. Commodification, teacher training, and, now, what the ancients were really saying (or not). Carole H. has given the matter a lot of thought (Fakirs and Oprah-fication); Susan M. converses with various scholars (Mark Singleton and David Gordon White) about yogis, Pantanjali, the sutras, and the scene in India B.C.E; Jill Miller weighs in on gaiam.com. The gals at Recovering Yogi have no patience for any of it. Good stuff. Check it out, report back.

I remember reading an article in Yoga Journal awhile back about the history of yoga
, which pointed out that most of the poses we do are only about 150 yrs. old. Still being a bit new to the literature, I found that rather surprising, but also very comforting. Okay, my reluctance to chant and expound on the niyamas wasn't completely out of line...most of my practice was fairly removed from the more mystical elements of yoga. And definitely my teaching (as I've said).

I felt unsure about my mastery of the texts, how I didn't really understand a lot of them and didn't have the proper framework to consider their relationship to what I thought was yoga. Scholars spend their whole careers studying this information, how could I possibly measure up. Now, the scholars are providing useful explanations and maybe it's the gurus who are a bit confused.

Remember, yoga is not a religion (and if you forget, reread Charlotte Bell's post). The ancient texts were very organic and definitely not set in stone. Much of the tradition was oral. No one has a direct line on Pantanjali's purpose for writing the sutras or how it relates to our practice of yoga today. There is no Truth that only adherents are privy to. As with much of human endeavor, it's all a part of the messy political and social agendas of the times--then and now.

Of course I'm not saying yoga is just asana. Or that anyone is off the hook for knowing the eight limbs or having a meditation practice. Or that anything can be yoga. But I love that it feels like (post) modern yoga about to be the next, big wiki-project. What do we keep? What no longer makes sense? Who are the false prophets, the sacred cows who no longer enthrall? Who is going to represent?

This latest round of discussion seems more thoughtful and erudite (only one commenter suggested Jill needed to do more yoga)--or maybe we've just lost the crowd who googles "naked yoga."

Anyway, there's a lot to consider, and I'm sure we're only just starting. But still, I kind of feel like we're at the cusp of something new, don't you?

The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner...


10 comments:

Carol Horton said...

Brenda, thanks so much for the mention - and, at the risk of sounding self-serving, I love your post! I completely agree that the exciting place to be in thinking about yoga today is neither in the "anything goes" nor the "we're stewards of ancient tradition" camps - the former because it obscures the powerful resources that yoga has to offer, and the latter because well - I just don't believe that it's true, at least in any literal, simplistic sense.

"I love that it feels like (post) modern yoga about to be the next, big wiki-project. What do we keep? What no longer makes sense? Who are the false prophets, the sacred cows who no longer enthrall? Who is going to represent?" Yes, yes, yes!

Living the questions is the answer . . .

Linda-Sama said...

"or maybe we've just lost the crowd who googles "naked yoga.""

no we haven't. they still find my blog....;) :D

Joslyn Hamilton said...

Thanks for the mention!

Joslyn, RecoveringYogi
http://www.recoveringyogi.com

Jill Miller said...

Hi Brenda, thanks for the mention. I love being "sentenced" to practicing for another 27 years...thanks for reminding me :) Perhaps to be more authentic, I could engage in some of the rites that Carol writes of in her piece?

I am so moved and refreshed by these scholars' efforts. Susan M squares up the rhetoric, research and the practice by rephrasing the old question "WHAT IS YOGA?" (a trap door for anyone who has ever tried to answer that!) into a post-modern progression of yoga-think by asking the question, "WHAT IS YOGA LIKE?"

We are definitely on a new cusp. Hopefully we can ground our "sit bones" as we slide forward!

Yogadawg said...

“But I love that it feels like (post) modern yoga about to be the next, big wiki-project. What do we keep? What no longer makes sense? Who are the false prophets, the sacred cows who no longer enthrall? Who is going to represent?"

Great post Brenda. A lot of history has happened in the blog world in the last few years and I think some of the young yoga blogger upstarts don’t know the history of some of us ancient yoga bloggers. I’m thinking of posting some of the blogs that have folded and some of the veterans such as yourself. Isn’t it amazing how much yoga debate is out there now compared to when you started in 2006.

Charlotte said...

Hi Brenda, I tried to leave a comment here last week, so I'm trying again.

First, great, thought-provoking post. Yoga, like music or any other art/science, will necessarily change over time. It's a tricky proposition to steward its evolution while maintaining its heart as a radical art. It's easy to try to make it fit our cultural comfort zone, and to some extent, that's useful. The trick is to allow its evolution while maintaining its transformative power, including all the ways it can make us uncomfortable with our egos' attachments. I like the idea of "the next, bit wiki-project."

Charlotte said...

Also, thanks for the mention! I'm honored to be in your blog—twice.

Brenda P. said...

Thanks, all, for reading. Charlotte, I'm sorry if I missed you. I am swamped by end-of-semester right now, and may have let something fall through the cracks.

I promise to be back on track by the end of the week...

Anna Guest-Jelley said...

Love the idea of yoga as a wiki-project!

Acharya Vikrmaditya said...

Besides yoga which other form do you think is quite old enough to practice....i think yoga mudras (hand postures)