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Is India un-yoga? What? Everyone knows yoga came from India, right? Though it seems most of what we know of the practice today has come from Western influence, even in yoga’s motherland. Is this true? Don’t take our word for it.

NPR has a story from Sandip Roy, an India-born American immigrant who’s just learning his downward facing dog, oh and that Indians typically have looser hips better for squatting, or so his yoga teacher explained to him in class. Indians don’t do yoga, he says.

We’ve been hemming and hawing over its historical origins, ties to religion and Hinduism, and probably will be, til the holy cows come home. India has been on a mission to document their heritage, including yoga, in the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, and now the Hindu American Foundation wants to “take back yoga” to reclaim its roots, which are deeply planted in India of course, but what of its people?

“We saw in large cities like Mumbai, power yoga studios cropping up, because Madonna does yoga,” says [Enlighten Up! director Kate] Churchill. “It has nothing to do with India. Whereas if you go to a power yoga studio in the U.S., they will say it’s a 5,000-year-old tradition.”

Are Indians catching on to what the West has adopted as their own?

I hear they come to your homes now in India to teach you yoga. Private lessons. And it’s the real thing. They learned it from American DVDs.


(fit blonde celebriyogi photo for effect only)



5 comments… add one
  • Chris

    Is Yoga Hindu ? Is Yoga Indian ?

    Well, let’s see now, it depends :
    Is the Pope Catholic ? All righty, then .

    So, let’s all give a Big Thank You to Hinduism and to Rishi Patanjali, and say Om, as we get back onto our Yoga mats, and focus on the Asana we were doing, without being distracted by any more of this silly debate on the origins of Yoga.

  • LizMc

    To me this is as simple as taking the case of Kundalini Yoga as an example. Not all Kundalini Yoga students are Sikh. Not all Sikhs practice Kundalini Yoga.

    Expand that theory to all styles of yoga and all Indian people.

    It’s the same as the generalizations made about Americans (being an American living abroad I’ve heard MANY!) – we don’t all like football or baseball, we don’t eat giant steaks and hamburgers for every meal, and the show 24 isn’t actually a documentary about city life in the US.

    Oversimplification and stereotyping of a country/group/culture doesn’t serve anyone. Though to do a bit of that myself, I’d say Japanese people have it down with the squatting. It’s an art form here!

  • Pololol

    Ha ha, loser admin removed my comment.

  • Joy

    I agree with Chris. Focus on your practice.

    Secondly, it was a shock to Indians when some aspects of Yoga were patented. Not to say, there are patents on spices like turmeric and even Basmati rice….

    So some Indians are outraged due to this. If the problem Westerners have is with Hinduism, just FYI this was a name crafted by foreigners. That religion is no ‘ISM’. Cows became holy because they were useful for things other than food and in general due to advances in agriculture and climate, vegetarian food became much popular and its goodness felt like it is again today. Om shanti!

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