Yoga is known by many to promote a healthy mind and body. For many kalpas, it has been a reputable part of Hinduism. Hatha yoga, the most popular form of yoga today, explores physical purification as preparation for meditation. It is also used for healing and for worship. However, these days, hatha yoga has been exploited by many people claiming to be “yoga experts”. Yoga became a mere trend to western civilization – something adapted by many on a whim, for fashionable purposes.
In gym franchises like Bally’s, NYSC (Town Sports International), or Weight Watchers, yoga is offered as a workout. While yoga does give you a healthy body, yoga is more than just exercise.
Similarly, I recently saw an infomercial for a particular yoga exercise tape. I was shocked at the advertisement. The people were doing Surya Namaskar, a series of positions used to greet and to show adoration for Surya Bhagwan (the Sun God). At the end of the demonstration, they said that their “moves” originated from ancient China. I was hurt when I heard this. To make matters worse, they said that “Aum” meant peace and serenity. In no way, shape, or form did they mention it as the most auspicious name of God.
More troubling than the widespread denial of yoga as being a part of Hinduism is the fact that the western world probably does more yoga than the Hindu community will ever do. Most Hindus do not even try or practice yoga, leaving it to be corrupted by people who do not even acknowledge the true depth of our culture. Hindus brought the splendor of yoga to the world, but we are not the ones enjoying the benefits. We should be the ones setting an example instead of letting our culture be debased to a passing trend.