FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
India has to save yoga from its shallow, soulless imitations
Posted:Jun 22, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By M. Rajaque Rahman
 
With weird concoction like "Beer Yoga" getting popular as the next big international fitness craze, the ancient art of inner blossoming is seemingly going topsy-turvy. And as yoga hogs the limelight on its third International Day, the loud call for saving the spirit of the ancient and modern practice can't be swept under the carpet.
 
While yoga needs to be promoted as a life-transforming phenomenon, it wouldn't do much good if it loses the balance of purity and ingenuity.
 
From being an ancient spiritual pursuit for those seeking enlightenment and becoming a hippies' fad, yoga has shown remarkable flexibility to become the most-chanted lifestyle mantra of today. From laptop models to fitness clubs, none wants to miss the bandwagon. But as it mainstreams itself, there is also the danger of getting it diluted into a shallow but widespread phenomenon.
 
With other strange rejigs like "Naked Yoga" claiming to share its revered lineage, the argument that yoga is losing touch with its roots, its history, even its soul is bound to gain some traction. That makes India's state-backed bid to reclaim it good for yoga.
 
India can only rue her past apathy for allowing yoga to be stripped and raped. In the guise of secularism, India shied away from protecting and promoting yoga for too long. The powers that be never made any attempt to ensure standardisation or harness it as a national asset. The vacuum allowed a free run for shallow imitations.
 
There was no vision to hard-sell yoga as a trusted Indian brand, despite surging demands across the world. It was only in 2015 that the Ministry of AYUSH launched a scheme for voluntary certification of yoga professionals in alliance with Quality Council of India (QCI). Thanks to it, India at last has over 1,000 certified yoga professionals. It is shameful statistics as the US' largest yoga teacher registry alone adds around 15,000 new trainers each year.
 
Apart from ensuring quality, such certification will check dilution as more and more trained hands will be available to steer the global yoga boom. On that front QCI, operating through its Yoga Certification Steering Committee, has done a good job by setting comprehensive and inclusive standards for training and certification.
 
"The strict QCI certification norms and the training needed to clear them ensure that a certified instructor is thorough with the basic philosophy of yoga. As the premium on certification rises, people will realise that becoming a yoga instructor takes a lot more than just demonstrating or practising yoga postures," says Shabina Ansari, a Pune-based QCI Level II yoga teacher who recently cleared the certification after going through 350 hours of intense yoga training at Bengaluru-based Sri Sri School of Yoga of the Art of Living.
 
That bar on quality is critical as India has a moral duty to defend yoga's spiritual traditions. The challenge is to get people thinking about its roots while not scuttling its rapid globalisation. The pitch for quality must not end indirectly telling people to stop practicing yoga.
 
The great debate over whether yoga has sold its soul is no more limited to the perils of the West's obsession with its physical aspect (asanas) and growing commercialisation. The focus must now shift to checking the trend of passing anything and everything as yoga.
 
Even though yoga is often taught like a series of physical exertions done to get fit, everyone sells it on its loftier charm of taking inner calm to the next level. Even the original "Beer Yoga" ad touts itself as the "marriage of two great centuries-old therapies for mind, body and soul" and claims it pairs the philosophies of yoga with the pleasure of beer drinking to take on to the highest level of consciousness.
 
Yet, the spiritual aspect is often given the miss. Practically, yoga is widely sold without its soul. Some even among the puritans believe that to welcome the greatest number of people, yoga has to dilute itself. They think its original incarnation carries too much baggage. But the reality is that yoga can be taken to every corner of the world without diluting its essence.
 
Body postures are just one of the aspects required for yoga practice. The others include adherence to social and personal ethics, control of breathing and senses and devotion and meditation. This is where quality check and certification will do wonders.
 
The International Day of Yoga on June 21 is the perfect stage for India to show the world that yoga can go places without losing it soul. In that, quality will matter a lot.
 
(M. Rajaque Rahman is an independent columnist who also conducts yoga-based workshop of the Art of Living)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, is a former top diplomat who retired as India's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. In his new political avatar, as an important minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Puri told INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS that
 
read-more
Aimed at consolidating cooperation between the armed forces of India and Saudi Arabia and explore new avenues of defence cooperation, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, visited Saudi Arabia on from 4-8 February 2018, writes Anil Bhut
 
read-more
Campus placement season is here and the news is that graduates from the top campuses in India, especially the IITs, have received six figure pay packets and job offers in the US. However, looking beyond the top 200 engineering schools in India, pay packets are not looking too promising. The reason is the emergence of new engineering sc
 
read-more
Since the NDA government converted the ‘Look East’ Policy to the ‘Act East’ policy, there has been a greater sense of strategic engagement with the ASEAN, writes Gurjit Singh
 
read-more
The UN will be making contacts with Maldives leaders in response to the request by the opposition leaders for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to oversee the all-party talks proposed by that nation's President Abdulla Yameen, Guterres's Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday.
 
read-more
Bangladesh is disaster prone country because of its conical shape. The risk of climate change, drought, flood and natural disaster has increased uncertainty of agricultural production, which has also increased the level of food insecurity in the country, writes Minhazur Rahman Rezvi
 
read-more

The Indian government is undertaking a project to enhance and install infrastructures related to trade and customs along its northeastern frontier, that include trading points with Bhutan.

 
read-more
Column-image

Title: Do We Not Bleed?: Reflections of a 21-st Century Pakistani; Author: Mehr Tarar; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 240; Price: Rs 599

 
Column-image

From antiquity, the Muslim faith has been plagued by the portrayal of Muslim men regularly misusing this perceived “right” to divorce their wives instantly by simply uttering “talaq” thrice.

 
Column-image

'Another South Asia!' edited by Dev Nath Pathak makes a critical engagement with the questions about South Asia: What is South Asia? How can one pin down the idea of regionalism in South Asia wherein inter-state relations are often char...

 
Column-image

Book: A Time of Madness; Author: Salman Rashid; Publisher: Aleph; Price: Rs 299; Pages: 127

 
Column-image

Book: Why I Am A Hindu; Author: Shashi Tharoor; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 302; Price: Rs 699