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Bare Yoga or Yogi Bear....?

federicafederica seeker of the clear blue skyIts better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

I learnt yesterday, watching a British TV programme called 'QI', that most of the moves, positions and general structure of Yoga, as we practise it in the West, can be traced back to only the 1930's.
The positions we incorporate into our Yogic routine (Dog, Salute to the Sun, Crow) are all very recent inventions and adaptations created by those who thought this was a good way to exercise the body and free the mind. And they labelled it Yoga, and gave it an air of ancient mysticism.

Most original Yoga poses are apparently not in any way original 'Yoga' at all, and mostly consisted of... lying or sitting.
We may have been given the impression by our teachers that the yoga being taught was thousands of years old, but in fact, it's barely 100 years old....

Then perusing and doing research of my own, I found this.

Interesting.

Thoughts?

Anything else that has similarly disappointed you in some way, through its inauthenticity (Father Christmas, Tooth Fairy!)....?

lobsterperson

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Interesting, the Wikipedia article on Yoga has a history section that traces the origins of Hatha Yoga back to the eleventh century.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga#History

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes, my point is that much of what is taught today in Yoga classes is a by-product and idealised expansion of what was originally a very simple, uncomplicated and limited discipline.
    All these wonderful asanas are in fact different and at times convoluted versions of simple keep-fit exercises taught for example, to soldiers in the army.
    I'm certain the majority of Yoga teachers are completely unaware that the moves taught originate as recently as early last century...

  • elcra1goelcra1go Explorer Edinburgh, Scotland Explorer

    Great documentary on Netflix 'On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace' talks to yoga masters from India, Tibet and modern teachers from New York. Talks about how yoga has changed, some of the positions that people can form, even with modern yoga is staggering- control of breathing, mind and body.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I don't doubt it. But that's not the point being made. The point is, Yoga as a discipline - as we know it - is extremely recent, when it is apparent that most practitioners today are mistakenly believing it to be ancient.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Well Yogi it would seem that somebody's made a BooBoo... :)

    Kundolobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Wel @Shoshin, seems you're smarter than the average bear....

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran Veteran

    @federica said:

    Then perusing and doing research of my own, I found this.

    That was a really interesting read. And I suppose the big question, for me at any rate, is whether something becomes inauthentic when it’s discovered to be quite a recent addition to an otherwise ancient tradition.

    How many centuries does it take to make a practice authentic, and therefore worthwhile?

    At some point in history, all spiritual traditions were the new kids on the block.

    Shoshinlobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes. I see your point, but as I said, it's not necessarily about whether the tradition is recent or ancient.
    It's about the mistaken belief surrounding it.
    The practice is doubtless worthwhile.
    And Traditions evolve as they spread. I mean, look at Buddhism itself; it's transforming all the time! Nothing ever stays the same, everything changes...

    But my specific point is the mistaken view regarding its longevity...
    Even the Author himself stated that he had what he could only describe as 'a crisis of Faith' regarding his devotion and dedication to his daily habitual practice of Yoga...

    He originally felt as if he had been indulging in a long-established, noble, deeply-rooted and revered discipline, only to discover, through diligent research that it was nothing of the kind. he initially felt cheated, but as you must have read, he came to terms with his initially unfortunate discovery...

    I just wondered if anyone had found out anything they had come across for themselves that made them pause and re-think a deeply-seated belief or opinion, or made them halt in their tracks at such a discovery?

    adamcrossleyKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:
    How many centuries does it take to make a practice authentic, and therefore worthwhile?

    The question is also whether old is necessarily good? You could say older practices can have some value proven over time, but it is also worth considering that they may be founded in superstition, become polluted through a “Chinese whispers” process of passing down, or no longer be relevant for the man of today.

    Just to add a different point of view: Osho said that sitting meditation was no longer effective for modern man, because man’s patterns of living and thinking had changed. That’s why he developed a series of active meditations which were supposed to act in a cathartic way to bring you into contact with your inner self.

    At some point in history, all spiritual traditions were the new kids on the block.

    Certainly true. But I think if yoga’s now-standard forms were derived from callisthenics and army exercises, then to derive a spiritual value from them may be somewhat problematic... you’d need quite a deep insight into the movement potentials of the human body to find the right path.

    There is always a question with new religions whether they truly lead anywhere. There are always cults but for a cult to grow organically into a new religion would be quite difficult these days I think. There are a lot of factors in modern society which act as suppressants.

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    I just wondered if anyone had found out anything they had come across for themselves that made them pause and re-think a deeply-seated belief or opinion, or made them halt in their tracks at such a discovery?

    I’ve basically got three pillars of deep-seated belief in my life, science, Osho and Buddhism, and at times I have doubted them all, leading to significant internal shakeups.

    Science I am the most secure in, it is a well-tested and proven way of viewing the world, but it is limited to just the physical, and it has downsides in that it wants to take apart and test everything that it comes across. It is basically a mind-based and somewhat destructive discipline, which is why I’ve learned not to mix it with meditation.

    Reading and listening to Osho is something I’ve done from my early teens, and I’ve been through various phases with it. Not everyone will agree with me, but I think he was a very modern spiritual master and had a special insight into man as he exists today.

    Buddhism in some ways provides learning that Osho’s teaching lacks, like the teaching on impermanence, but it is also a different approach. While Osho’s teaching focuses on celebration, creativity, intelligence, humour, and no-mind, Buddhism tends to focus more on a steady long-term process, with precepts, noble truths and the eightfold path. There is a certain tension between the two.

    Altogether it provides me with all that I need to apprehend the world.

    federica
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes that's a good point; I don't think we can view the entire global and social structure through just one lens... I'm sure we all have several foundations upon which we have built our views... some of my stilts are resting on shifting sands....

  • KundoKundo Veteran Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    There is always a question with new religions whether they truly lead anywhere. There are always cults but for a cult to grow organically into a new religion would be quite difficult these days I think.

    $cientology anyone?...

    ShoshinKeromeLionduck
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Anything else that has similarly disappointed you in some way, through its inauthenticity (Father Christmas, Tooth Fairy!)....?

    Me.

    I am a fake wer-lobster (who guessed?). Here is an incomplete list of my fakery:

    • Trolls are people too and should be fed to bursting point
    • Fake fake. I am genuinely ... eh wait ...
    • Inauthentic believer in Almighty Cod [Hallowed Be Her Namelessness]
    • Fake student of Dhrama-Rama, Harry Dharma
    • Genuinely believe Nothing, especially not nihilism

    etc. etc. etc.

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran Veteran

    It’s not the same as becoming disappointed, in the way we’re talking about it, but I’ve been reading about Taoism recently, and it’s given me some pause for thought. I think I’ll post a thread about it soon, because I see some strong commonality between it and Buddhism, and also some strong discrepancy. It’s brought on a miniature crisis of faith.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited February 19

    @Kundo said:

    @Kerome said:
    There is always a question with new religions whether they truly lead anywhere. There are always cults but for a cult to grow organically into a new religion would be quite difficult these days I think.

    $cientology anyone?...

    Certainly illustrative of the difficulty of growing a religion, although it might have something to do with the paucity of insight on offer.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited February 19

    As a yogi, from tantra, Iyengar, Hatha and other posturing, I find attitude/approach is everything.

    Every teacher that I remember stressed emphasised relaxation. Relaxation is the key to formal attentive yogi sitting and the Chinese Buddhist Yoga cult I was teacher trained in. Our system derived from Japanese Oki Yoga and was a modern therapeutic form. Very dynamic, much movement and partner assisted asana. It was designed for martial artists. The relaxation came after a strenuous sequence, where we relaxed quite naturally (from exhaustion). The breathing was deep through the need to oxygenate the system. :o

    I was unaware of the history that @federica mentions. :3

    ShoshinKundo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @lobster said:...I was unaware of the history that @federica mentions. :3

    And how does that make you feel about Yoga Discipline, now?

    That's not intended to be a leading question, I'm just curious in what way that has affected you...?

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran Veteran

    And how does that make you feel about Yoga Discipline, now?

    Honestly, I feel like I want to dismiss it now. Is that a rational response? Probably not. A large part of me definitely wants these things to have a long-standing tradition. But how old is old enough?

    Conversely, I’m quite proud to be a Western Buddhist. I think we have the foundations here of a beautiful new tradition, one that crosses sectarian boundaries, values women, fights climate change, rescues us from the mental health crisis, and so on. Maybe Yoga is another beautiful new tradition, a marriage of Western “spiritual gymnastics”, as the author puts it, and Indian philosophy.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @federica said:
    I just wondered if anyone had found out anything they had come across for themselves that made them pause and re-think a deeply-seated belief or opinion, or made them halt in their tracks at such a discovery?

    Quite often. I think back on the many ideas and opinions I've held with a fair bit of certainty only to find out later that they were either partially or wholly mistaken and can't help but ask myself, what views do I hold now that I'm equally certain of that are in fact wrong. These days I make a regular habit of seeking out views and arguments that are contrary to those that I hold intuitively.

    I think in some sense though I often end up struggling with the opposite of strongly held convictions, that is Pyrrhonism or extreme skepticism. The antidote for which, I think, is the willingness to apply structure to one's life in the face of uncertainty.

    On a related note, I highly recommend the new series from Crash Course on navigating digital information. They are only on week 6 of 10, but I feel it teaches essential skills we all need these days to sort through media today.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    And how does that make you feel about Yoga Discipline, now?

    Curious.

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