Yoga Misconceptions

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“Yoga is not a religion. It has no creed or fixed set of beliefs, nor is there a prescribed God-like figure to be worshipped in a particular manner” (American Yoga Association 1). The common misconception is that yoga is a religion. In actuality, “the whole school of Yoga is built on three main structures: exercise, breathing, and meditation” (Christensen 13). Though yoga has been around for centuries, the modern world has altered the way this originally humble practice is performed, culturally stereotyped, and religiously viewed. The practice of yoga dates back thousands of years and is traditionally an intimate practice between a disciple and teacher. “The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is the true union of our will with the will of God” (Iyengar 19). Yoga can be traced to the Prehistoric Period, where written words were nonexistent. Therefore, yoga was originally practiced through oral teachings given by a Guru (teacher) to his Chela (disciple). This way of teaching limited the number of practitioners and also allowed Gurus to teach only those who they considered to be worthy of practicing. Around 500 A.D. yoga experienced a shift from personal spiritual attainment to a social practice with the goal of cultural benefits. At this time, yoga’s practices and teachings were written down, however “the first time the word yoga was found in written form was in the Rig Vada, one of the sacred texts used by Vedic priests…these techniques had never been written down until the Indian sage Patanjali wrote down a systematic method of yoga in the Yoga Sutras” (Menechella). This p... ... middle of paper ... ...associate Yoga with a pop culture phenomenon, like an 80’s aerobics video or 90’s step routine. In the west, Yoga is often associated with healthy eating and green living. These stereotypes are often made and Yoga is also incorrectly associated with Hinduism. These common misconceptions and changes to the performance of Yoga are impacting the practice of Yoga. Works Cited Christensen, Alice. The American Yoga Association's Easy Does It Yoga: the Safe and Gentle Way to Health and Well-being. New York: Fireside Book, 1999. Print. Feuerstein, Georg. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice. Boston: Shambhala, 2003. Print. "General Yoga Information." Welcome to The American Yoga Association. Web. 19 July 2011. . Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika. New York: Schocken, 1995. Print.

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