Yoga, a Sex Cult?

A New York Times article blames recent scandal in the yoga community to yoga's purported roots as a sex cult.
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A New York Times article blames recent scandal in the yoga community to yoga's purported roots as a sex cult.

A new and salacious New York Times article claiming yoga began as a sex cult has stirred up controversy throughout the yoga community once again.

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William Broad, who recently published the book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards and created a buzz when his excerpt "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" ran in the Times last month, wrote of the recent turmoil surrounding John Friend and Anusara Yoga in the article titled "Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here." He examines a few famous sex scandals in yoga's history and makes the claim that yoga, by design, heightens one's sexual experience.

"Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?" Broad wrote. "One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise."

Yoga's connection to Tantra is the basis for Broad's claims, however there are many factual errors in the article, according to Tantra scholar Christopher Wallis, who highlighted the errors on his Facebook page yesterday (re-posted here). "Sexual practice (couple and group) was an infrequently performed rite of relatively fringe Tantrik groups, and in those rites, sexual pleasure was NEVER described as the goal," Wallis wrote. "Intensified awareness was the goal, and the rite is said to be forbidden to those performing it out of physical lust."

Stay tuned for more rebuttal on this article.