‘An unsavoury activity’ – A response to some of the recent anti-yoga reports

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It takes quite a lot to make me angry, but today’s article in The Guardian by Naomi McAuliffe rattled my yoga mat;  it’s a scathing comment on yoga and I don’t get the impression her tongue is in her cheek at any point.

Firstly, to deal with an inaccuracy:

‘The people who get addicted move on to harder and harder forms of yoga. Hatha leads to Bikram, and before you know it you’re on Ashtanga…’

Hatha is not a form of yoga in the sense of being a style of yoga.  It is one of the yogic paths, all of which lead to enlightenment, and hatha yoga is the physical path.  It is not a style or school of yoga, so she is quite wrong on that point.  Furthermore, one person’s ‘hard’ yoga is another’s ‘easy’ yoga.  There are different styles to suit all needs and abilities, and something as supposedly simple as sitting still might be really difficult for some people, let alone head stand.

Secondly, her generalisation of yoga students:

‘Probably the main reason people abandon the practice, or never even try, is the unutterable smugness of yoga bunnies… These people rarely drink alcohol – and not for the reasonable reasons, which are religion, previous alcoholism or pregnancy. This only accentuates how boring they are…Despite the fact that it is just a bit of stretching, apparently you need to wear marl-grey, bootcut yoga pants.’

The last time I looked there were no references to being ‘smug’ in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and genuine yogis don’t think they are any better than anyone else because yoga teaches us that we are all equal and we shouldn’t judge others.   With regards to alcohol, that’s entirely an individual decision and I have known many yogis over the years who enjoy a drink; obviously not to excess but then that’s got nothing to do with yoga and everything to do with simple health advice – everything in moderation.  Oh yes, and the clothes.  Again, having attended classes for twenty years now, I have seen people wearing all kinds of outfits but generally it’s just something comfortable they can move around freely in.  Yes, there are the fashion victims but they’re probably like that in the daily life anyway and yoga isn’t about image, or at least it shouldn’t be.  I do however, agree that the advertising of yoga clothes isn’t representative of most yogis, but then no advertising is realistic because it’s selling us something!

Oh, and no, yoga is not ‘just a bit of stretching’.  Its aim is to enable us to still the body and breath, in order to then still the mind and find peace. Evidently, people like Naomi McAuliffe haven’t been to very good classes and have missed the point of yoga entirely.  It also doesn’t need to have any so-called ‘mysticism’ attached to it either.  As I have stated in a previous post, you don’t have to believe in anything spiritual or religious in order to practise yoga.  I do not have a faith and yet I have practised for twenty years quite happily.  Once again, the incorrect assumptions lead to wrong-headed opinions about something people haven’t taken the time to thoroughly investigate.

I have attached the article below for you to read.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/11/father-obaoill-yoga-unsavoury-irish-priest‘I’m with Father O’Baoill – yoga is a deeply unsavoury activity.  An Irish priest has warned parishioners that yoga endangers the soul. It’s turning into a rubbery, vainglorious dullard that worries me.’  Naomi McAuliffetheguardian.com, Friday 11 July 2014 12.38 BST

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