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...