Listen to the author who “wrecked” yoga as he gives a 40min interview – particularly, well, interesting when he explains why historically yoga is closely linked to sexuality (25. minute), and how Indians tried to “clean it up” in the 1920ies. 🙂
However, he indeed does raise several valid points (as some readers pointed out in their replies to my earlier post) and admits that there’s a lot of things about yoga that science cannot answer, describe or quantify such as “what is enlightenment?“.
Bottom line : He says that overall the risks are outweighed by the benefits – not something we could have easily guessed from the NYT’s extract, right? 😉
The risks and rewards of practising yoga – an author interview
His article in NYTIMES
This article is poorly researched and lacking in scientific thinking. For one, he is making an argument that Yoga teachers are bound to have inappropriate relations with their students because both of them are scantily clad and that it involves vigorous exercises! There are instances when Gym instructors have been similarly inappropriate with the patrons, so does that mean going to Gym is bad? Also, statistics used here is not researched. For eg-> its not clear what percentage of Yoga instructors have behaved inappropriately. I am not sure if this metric does have a higher statistical deviation from the normal (say a male instructor misbehaving with a female student).
Now that said, living in the 20th century… why should you remove the Tantric “stain”? I also know that there was another article by the same author in NYTimes that said “How Yoga can wreck your body”, which was also poorly researched and mongering fear and disdain at Yoga!
I think the NYT, like a lot of news outlets, have to bite on the really incendiary topics to get peoples attention/readership. One issue I had with the whole “wrecking your body” thing was that it was just a small snippet of his book, and not indicative of the whole piece. But I feel like they latched onto it because it created a negative smear campaign of yoga.
Honestly, I teach bellydance and you know what…. you can wreck yourself with that, too 🙂 But I think overall his writings have addressed something really important: Yoga is not just a spirtual and athletic practice, but also has a real impact (whether negative or positive) on the body. And in skilled hands, like most body/athletic work and in practitioners that honor their limitations, it can be a wonderful thing. But in the wrong hands, yeah… anything is harmful!
Andrea, thanks for liking my yoga dog blog. This book on yoga is making me nuts. I used to be in the newspaper business, so I know that editors look for the ‘sexy parts’ in any story, and in this story, the sexy part is that “YOGA CAN KILL YOU!!! Well frankly, sex can kill you if you do it wrong. Ask Michael Hutchence. i’m subscribing to your blog.
I have to admit I was triggered and defensive as I listened to much of his Fresh Air interview yesterday. “Who is this guy and what the heck does he know anyway? All he’s doing is perpetuating myths about yoga! UGH.” I kept thinking over and over. Then I chilled out. He is a journalist, and he does taut the benefits of yoga which you wouldn’t have guessed from the NYTimes article. Still, I wonder at some of his facts. I’ve completed my meager 200hr certification and I’ve studied some Tantra. Is his claim that yoga was about sex true? Not that I care. I don’t happened to have a negative attitude about sex. I just don’t know that Indians “created” the modern yoga in an attempt to clean it up, and I wonder at his sources. What I’ve read on Tantra is that that is a fringe aspect and the sexual practices and ritual were engaged in by extremists. Oh well, at least people are talking about yoga!
So first, yoga was all about sex, then they’ve “cleaned it up” and apparently made it a lethal weapon. 😉 I was disappointed by the interviewer who clearly had no clue about yoga and did not question him about his sources (a question you rightfully ask). She just gave him a platform to promote his book. An opportunity for an interesting discussion was lost.
I think early in his childhood he must have attempted a really tough asana and as a result his brain must have got dislodged and migrated south ! But atleast a few cogent thoughts still do come out of him…
Somehow I must have missed the parts in the Vedas/Upanishads/Yoga Sutras where they talk about sex. Oh, and were these texts not all written (ever so slightly…) before the 1920ies? I wonder…