Yoga's Lost Hindu Roots

The Take Back Yoga campaign argues that the practice's Hindu roots have been intentionally ignored in the West.
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The Take Back Yoga campaign argues that the practice's Hindu roots have been intentionally ignored in the West.
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National Public Radio today reported an upset in the American Hindu community over the "delinking of yoga" from its Hindu roots.

Take Back Yoga, a campaign launched by the Hindu American Foundation in 2010, has been making the case that as yoga has increased in popularity in the West, its origins have been effaced by the intentional avoidance of Hindu references in favor of more palatable terms like "yogic," "Eastern," or even "vedic."

Additionally, the group says that Western yoga's obsessive focus on asana denies the grounding precepts of the practice. "What we're trying to say is that the holistic practice of yoga goes beyond just a couple of asanas on a mat. It is a lifestyle, and it's a philosophy," Take Back Yoga's Sheetal Shah told NPR.

Last month, Shah expounded on the argument in a Huffington Post debate  with New York yoga teacher Tara Stiles, writing, "Christianizing, Judeo-fying or secularizing the Sanskrit terminology, or even cutting out the Oms and Namastes isn't enough of a twist to cleanse yoga of its guiding principles. Yes, the beauty of yoga is that it can be both flexible and fluid, but without its metaphysical, Hindu bones, yoga falls flat on its face."

Get the NPR story here.