Who owns yoga?

Hindu Gods and Goddesses are often depicted in postures we think of as asanas.

In recent months, a debate has taken center stage of not only the yoga community but religious communities nationwide. The debate has moved into Southern Baptist churches, and even into the New York Times, where writer Paul Vitello describes the movement called “Take Back Yoga:”

A group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

So, does yoga belong to the Hindu’s? Are all those who practice destined to become Hindu, vegetarians and Earth lovers? These questions have many possible answers.

As a “power” yoga studio set in the metropolis of Los Angeles, The Green Yogi is by no means a Hindu studio. That is not to say our teachers do not incorporate wisdom from the ancient religion into their classes. Many teachers use Sanskrit words, and others offer up Sanskrit prayers during practice. What does this mean for those who practice in our studio, few of who would identify themselves as Hindu and perhaps not even faithful to any religion?

It means we all have a chance for exploration and debate! And, in our eyes, a healthy debate has never hurt anyone. Do you like it when teachers incorporate ancient wisdom into class? Use Sanskrit? Encourage spiritual growth in addition to physical prowess? Or, would you like to simply get to the mat, sweat it out, and head home?

2 thoughts on “Who owns yoga?

  1. I prefer to just sweat it out. For me yoga is simply exercise, the teaching, prayers and Eastern religious influences make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to participate in a class that in any way competes with my Christian faith. I just want a workout. I don’t like when studios have Buddas and other religious imagery. I avoid classes that I have found to be too heavy in religious influence or teachings.

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