Hindu Group Wants Yoga Back

Yoga's insane popularity in the Western world has often been detached from its Hindu origins, but a new movement by a Hindu group aims to change that. In a new campaign called “Take Back Yoga,” the Hindu American Foundation aims to acquaint non-Hindus with its Indian origins, hoping to restore the original intent in an industry that has been, for all intensive purposes, white-washed. The American yoga industry earns upwards of $5.7 billion per year, and much of it is based on an exoticized caricature of Hindu spirituality. The New York Times:

Organizers of the Take Back Yoga effort point out that the philosophy of yoga was first described in Hinduism’s seminal texts and remains at the core of Hindu teaching. Yet, because the religion has been stereotyped in the West as a polytheistic faith of “castes, cows and curry,” they say, most Americans prefer to see yoga as the legacy of a more timeless, spiritual “Indian wisdom.”

Deepak Chopra, the platitudinous author, has spoken out against the campaign, accusing the Hindu American Foundation's campaign as being tribal and self-enclosed. But as Dr. Aseem Shukla, the foundation's director, explained, this is more about spreading understanding and gaining recognition than anything.

“We started this, really, for our kids,” said Dr. Shukla, a urologist and a second-generation Indian-American. “When our kids go to school and say they are Hindu, nobody says, ‘Oh, yeah, Hindus gave the world yoga.’ They say, ‘What caste are you?’ Or ‘Do you pray to a monkey god?’ Because that’s all Americans know about Hinduism.”

In a country where racist shows like Outsourced exist, there's really no better argument.


AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at December 1, 2010, 6:24am

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