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Welcome to the Tuesday Coffee Hour here on Street Prophets. This is an open thread where we can hang out and talk about what’s going on in our worlds. I thought we might start today’s discussion by looking at Yoga.

Hindu Yogi Sculpture

Yoga had become an established part of the spiritual landscape of Indian by the sixth century BCE. Yoga means “yoking” a term used by the Vedic Aryans to describe the tethering of the draught animals to the war chariots before a raid.  The focus of yoga in the sixth century, however, was not on warfare, but on the conquest of inner space. Yoga was a raid on the unconscious mind, which was the root cause of so much of our pain.

Yoga Class

The classical yoga of the sixth century was not like the yoga taught in the west today (such as that shown in the photo above). It was not an aerobic exercise. It was not intended to help people relax. It did not help the practitioners to suppress excessive anxiety, or feel better about their lives—quite the contrary. Yoga was a systematic assault on the ego. It was an exacting regimen that over a long period of time taught the aspirant to abolish his normal consciousness with its errors and delusions.

Yogins did not believe that they were touched by a god; there was nothing supernatural about these experiences. They were simply developing the natural capacity of the human person.

This is an open thread. Feel free to share what's on your mind.

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Pink Clubhouse.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very interesting. (7+ / 0-)

    A systematic assault on the ego is something we could use more of these days.

    He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

    by StateOfGrace on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:18:39 PM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Aunt Pat, palantir, Larsstephens

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:55:48 PM PDT

  •  Yoga is great, but according to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, palantir, Larsstephens

    The Science of Yoga by William J. Broad, it is not a truly aerobic activity. It can positively improve mood, balance and muscle tone, however.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 03:44:56 PM PDT

  •  Is Yoga a Religion? (4+ / 0-)

    There are both Christian groups and Muslims groups who oppose yoga.

    Is Yoga a Religion?

    In 2008, Malaysia’s top Islamic body passed a fatwa against Muslims practicing yoga. According to Muslim leaders yoga has elements of Hindu spiritual teaching and this can lead to blasphemy. The fatwa states that yoga practiced only as physical exercise is permissible, but prohibits the chanting of religious mantras, and states that teachings such as uniting of a human with God is not consistent with Islamic philosophy. There is also a concern that women wearing trousers to practice yoga will lead to lesbianism.
    An example of Christian opposition:
    Every Yoga teacher is, in effect, a Hindu or Buddhist missionary, even though "he or she may wear a cross, insist that Jesus was a great Yogi, and protest that Yoga is not a religion, but science. This is the most blatant of lies. Yet it has been so widely proclaimed and believed that in America's public schools, beginning in kindergarten and in almost every other area of society today, Yoga and other forms of Hindu-Buddhist occultism are taught and accepted as science. In contrast, Christianity has been thrown out of the schools and is being crowded out of every other area of life in the 'broad-minded' move to replace religion with the New Age 'science'!"
    •  as-salaamu alaikum (4+ / 0-)

      Peace be unto you.  Regarding the Muslim view of yoga, I just wanted to share that it is not only the Malaysian scholars who have ruled thus.  Many scholars have been asked this question, and the vast majority agree that in order to be halal, all of the chants and incantations must be removed, as they have religious connotations for both Hindus and Buddhists and would constitute blasphemy for a Muslim.  Further, certain positions, such as Surya Namaskar (salutation to the sun) are considered by some to be worship positions (sun worship, in this case), and must be changed or else not done at all.

      Many scholars go on to say that yoga is permissible, if the above changes are made, as a light exercise program.  In my personal view, a Muslim would be better off finding an alternative to yoga, because nobody truly knows what the ancient meaning of each position was, and so which positions might constitute "worship" in some form remain a mystery.

      I hope I have not insulted anyone with this post.  I only wanted to expand upon the offered paragraph regarding the Muslim view of yoga.  Each person, including each Muslim, must make their own determinations regarding this topic, and I strongly support the right of everyone to do so.

      Allahu 'alam, God knows best.

      Terror has no religion.

      by downsouth on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 07:23:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ojibwa, I think yes ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, downsouth

      ... yoga is a religion.  The eight limbs of yoga are:

      Yama (The five "abstentions"): Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth, non-lying), Asteya (non-covetousness), Brahmacharya (non-sensuality, celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

      Niyama (The five "observances"): Shaucha(purity), Santosha(contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (study of the Vedic scriptures to know about God and the soul), and Ishvara-Pranidhana (surrender to God).

       Asana: Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's Sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation.

      Pranayama ("Suspending Breath"): Prāna, breath, "āyāma", to restrain or stop. Also interpreted as control of the life force.

      Pratyahara ("Abstraction"): Withdrawal of the sense organs from external objects.

      Dharana ("Concentration"): Fixing the attention on a single object.

      Dhyana ("Meditation"): Intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation.

      Samadhi ("Liberation"): merging consciousness with the object of meditation


      Asanas are the yoga poses that are done in a yoga class, although they are likely to be unrecognizable to the people who created yoga.  Sometimes instructors include pranayama.  In my experience with 10 years of yoga practice with some pretty good teachers, classes don't go beyond those elements.  

      I felt that I was being disrespectful in appropriating elements of a religion out of context of that religion.  So I stopped doing yoga, and now I just stretch.  

  •  I tried a few different classes over the years but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it was mostly gentle relaxation yoga. One day I showed up at an Iyengar class.

    It turns out that was what I was looking for. You can walk away an inch taller and really break a sweat in that style of class.

    And it is the right one for me because it's about the form. When I go bowling I follow the steps, looking at the little arrows, aiming in the same spot, taking three steps and a breath at the right time, etc. I found I can hit the right spot every time if I follow the form. My problem is that I can only do that with a 6 lb ball, which isn't big enough even if it hits the target. I need to work on my strength. And it's the same with yoga. Practice will bring me strength and I feel confident with Iyengar's instruction on the form.  

    At the same time, this style of yoga is all about making accomodations so that you can still feel what it is supposed to be like even if you are not young, flexible, or strong. Piling up blocks and pillows and blankets until the floor rises up to where you can reach to meet it makes it possible to accomplish things you might not be able to do  otherwise. That is stimulating on an emotional level, at the same time the blood is rushing to the ends of your capillaries.

  •  GOP Yoga? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm listening to Romneys speech on fairness, and this leads me to two questions. Both related to the Ryan budget which he has endorsed.

     You say Obama is giving out favorites to friends, and yet you propose we slash the social compact to pay for oil  subsidies and wall street welfare. Really? Oil and the banks have been great friends of the GOP, seems like a lot of favors to me.

     And Obama has failed to solve the defecit? Ok, fair, however lets not forget the GOP added 10 trillion dollars to the deficit, in the promise of trickle down economics. And you propose more of the same, and another unfunded war with Iran? So do you admit to proposing a ten trillion dollar increase in deficit spending as your policies indicate?

     So heres the third question. So your concept of fairness is to double the debt, dismantle social security, medicare and medicaid, destroy the american manufacturing sector, just so you can line the pockets of vulture capitalists like bain capitol?

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