Is Yoga Meditation In America Yoga Or Meditation?

I think the title of this post says it all for me. I think that yoga meditation in America is largely viewed as a form of exercise for purposes of weight loss, strength building, keeping flexible and in shape. Yet, when you dig into yoga’s history, it becomes immediately apparent that it was never intended as a means of exercise (back 2000 years ago, daily living was plenty strenuous). It was a means of preparing the body for (seated) meditation. Surprisingly, this central aspect of yoga seems to have been lost, especially recently. Here, author Jill Lawson writing for the Huffington Post discusses this strange state of affairs and expresses her own take on the subject.

Is Yoga Meditation In America Yoga Or Meditation?

In the days of old, yogis gave up their worldly possessions and adopted a system of ancient techniques and rituals, with the intention to unite with God. Today, Americans have a slightly different approach.

yoga meditation

Yoga meditation in America: Is yoga just a form of exercise or is it a path to spiritual awakening? Photo by Comstock c/o Photos.Com.

After reflecting on yoga’s history and purpose, it is surprising to me how yoga has become so popular in such a capitalistic society. Steeped in Hinduism, with an objective fueled by the renunciation of extravagant pleasures, yoga seems to be a very unlikely endeavor for Westerners who are known for buying, acquiring, and disposing of stuff.

But the image of yoga carries a subtle hint of romance at its core, and I think that is what makes it a huge success in America. Not unlike mesmerized cobras that sway in response to the seductive sounds of the snake charmer’s whispering flute, those flirting with the desire to learn more about yoga find themselves drunk with love in the wake of a $6 billion dollar industry.

While some admire and support how yoga has evolved to help so many, others would say we have taken it a bit too far. The picture of modern yoga often gets caught in between the covers of magazines, emblazoned with the same dazzle and panache of fashion models in the latest designer threads.

Organizations such as Take Back Yoga, a Hindu American establishment, see the true spiritual significance of yoga being cleaved out of modern yoga classes across the country. Wanting to see yoga return to its Hindu roots, groups such as these work hard at spreading the message that modern yoga is inauthentic and clearly missing the point.

That doesn’t seem to stop us from practicing. The mavens who currently lead the modern yoga movement and their devoted followers add just the right combination of ingredients to keep the industry growing. This dynamic relationship serves both the trade and the people who contribute to it, or so it would seem.

Do read this important article by Jill Lawson at huffingtonpost.com:

When it comes down to it, I think most who practice yoga meditation in America really approach it, in the beginning at least, only from the exercise and fitness standpoint (i.e. it’s not running or biking or spinning). That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that many who start out from that perspective may unexpectedly discover they have found stumbled upon some part of themselves that becomes more spiritually connected and has begun to awaken because of the yoga they have been practicing.

Do you think this has happened to you? Can you share your own experiences with us here? I’d be very interested to know what you think about this. Please leave a comment or share this with someone else by clicking the like button.

Meditation is not what you think it is. It’s a method of accessing unerring wisdom from the superconscious mind so you can experience a happy, healthy and creatively rewarding life.                                                                                       — Leonard Perlmutter

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About Mike Eis

Physician, Author, Marketer, Scientist, Problem Solver, Carpenter and Armchair Philosopher

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