Do you do yoga? You probably know someone who does, or at least has tried to. What were you/they looking for when you first gave it a shot? Was it merely for exercise and fitness or was it a spiritual or religious thing? What sorts of results were you or they hoping for?
If you asked each of the 15 million yoga-practicing Americans these questions, the answers would be as different as the people are to each other. Author and spiritual teacher Shahram Shiva ruminated this week on this current state of yoga in a piece at The Huffington Post. Shiva uses statistical evidence to define the current demographics pushing "The Yoga Generation" into the mainstream: predominantly young, typically female, and often fairly wealthy. Yoga is a $27 million industry and it's dominated by millennials:
"Moderate yoga is actually a great exercise and lifestyle. The combination of breathing techniques, focused stretching mixed with healthy diet, relaxation, and meditation is truly a foolproof mind and body discipline.
As a long time Rumi lover and teacher of advanced spirituality, I have been practicing various aspects of yoga since childhood and it's heartwarming to see large groups of people embracing this ancient mind and body toning in droves especially in our high-stress urban areas."
Despite the fascination with yoga's rise, Shiva warns that there is always danger "when a popular trend gets infused with dogmatic mumbo-jumbo." What he means is that yoga is a practice that prioritizes physical, mental, and spiritual wellness through practice and discipline. There is no room or need for polemics. It is not a soapbox. Such a thing runs contrary to the innate goals of the practice: discipline and self-discovery. There are yoga centers out there that place a heightened focus on things like ego and karma or make their practitioners worship little Hindu statues. These are the dangers of which Shiva writes. Holdovers from a different time, they employ "spooky language" to scare people into submission.
While these sects still thrive in certain places, Shiva notes it's fortunate most members of the Yoga Generation appear to understand that these dogmatic elements and silly stunts provide no value. Millennials are much more secular than previous generations and their feelings toward the religiosity of yoga is a good example of why.
For more, check out the original post at The Huffington Post.
In a similar vein, Big Think expert Sam Harris explains in the video below that it's possible to obtain the positive spiritual effects of meditation without sifting through the dogmas commonly associated with it:
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