Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yoga-nomics: Who owns what?

Years ago I began integrating 'Core Strength' into my yoga practice and teaching. However, I have always acknowledged the influences outside of Yoga that gave rise to the changed elements. Satya, i suppose.

This is a tricky issue in Yoga: what are the influences that give rise to 'adjective yoga.' Should they be acknowledged? Whether the influences come from 'inside' yoga tradition or from 'outside,' does this integration allow branding as a 'new' yoga? This is a broad question, not only asked of you, but of all integrators of new elements to Yoga practice.

Well, now the Indian government is taking it seriously. (read the full article)

Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta, who heads the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, a Delhi-based government organisation set up jointly by the ministries of health and science, told the Guardian: "Simple text isn't adequate. People are claiming they are doing something different from the original yoga when they are not."

"Yoga originated in India. People cannot claim to invent a new yoga when they have not."

From the information at hand, I am in agreement. The problem isn't one of having access to practicing Yoga, rather the issue is individuals laying claim to the right to own some parts of Yogasana practice and name it as their own. The phenomenon of 'adjective yoga.'

"There is no intention to stop people practising yoga but nobody should misappropriate yoga and start charging franchise money," said Gupta, who, like many Delhi residents, practises the ancient art in a park near his home. "As for hot yoga, power yoga, or whatever I have no views to comment. Our job is to provide the evidence and let others decide."
The campaign to preserve yoga as Indian has its roots in a bid several years ago by Bikram Choudhury, the self-proclaimed Hollywood "yoga teacher to the stars", to get his Bikram yoga style patented in the US.
"They are creating brands," said Guru Singh, who has himself invented what he calls "Urban Yoga".

In our culture, Pilates has really brought the whole issue of 'Core' into popular consciousness. Joe Pilates used these principals, which he acknowledged were influenced by gymnastics, yoga, etc., as foundational. In turn, yoga teachers have begun to emphasize the core in recent years. Many teachers are strong, like Dharma Mitra, but the whole core emphasis is of a different kind. 

Today it seems yoga teachers are straining credulity. They do this by finding the slightest connection with bandhas and/or mudras to bring in innovations of other modalities or by selecting one aspect of the broad teaching of Yoga and creating what they call a new style of yoga.

Satya, Yogi's and Yogini's.

Sate hitam satyam. Which translates to "The path to ultimate truth or Sat  is satya (i.e. the real truth).

Download a partial listing of the various Styles of Yoga in the USA... all 'adjective' Yoga's.