Yoga tradition forbids Homosexuality?

Via on Mar 2, 2009

gay yoga

From the best comment ever department:

I just discovered your website last night then today saw the story on the “most meaningful moment of the oscars”. At that point I had to reject your site as having nothing to do with actual yoga. 

Yoga calls for the regulation of the senses, above all the tongue and the genitals. The genitals are to be used in the ultimate sense for procreation. Homosexual sex has nothing to do with this whatsoever. 

A yogi seeks their love in the absolute. Not in so called “love affairs” of this world. There are so many reasons why homosexual activity is rejected by true yogis that it is hard to know where to begin. 

I hope that not too many innocent people are confused and persuaded by your pop culture, hedonistic brand of so-called yoga.

 

My reply:

Dear Brad,

Whether or not yoga forbids homosexuality is, to my mind, about as relevant as whether or not the Bible forbids homosexuality: Not. At. All.

The basic issue, I would hope you agree, is not about genitalia, but about every single human being being fundamentally good and possessed of basic human rights, such as the right to wed in matrimony (and divorce, but that’s another story).

Anyway—thanks for the comment, and feel free to write an article for us expanding on your true understanding of yoga (which, up to 50 years ago, didn’t allow women to practice).

PS: this whole discussion is only slightly sillier than the recent Fatwa declared on…yoga!

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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8 Responses to “Yoga tradition forbids Homosexuality?”

  1. angela aldatz says:

    Good response Waylon. Unbelievable, really. It would be a really lonely world if we were all to be seperated as people like this wish.

  2. sj* says:

    wow. to declare such dogma as "yoga" is not giving homage to the innate nature of the word. it's sound. and it's power. the minute my yoga practice (simple existence of oneness) is turned into a religion, it is the moment i check out. still, in my current state of yoga, i accept the craziest of "beliefs" as relevant and entitled. wish that could be the same for mr. brad.
    word waylon.
    bless up!

  3. _milo says:

    There must be 6.7 billion sexualities and counting on this wet rock! If I were the expanded consciousness of the entire universe the one thing I would not know is how to think and feel like a brad, or a waylon, angela, milo. finite containers for the uncontainable. ante up shaktis, shiva wants some 411!

  4. I posted a somewhat altered version here…please comment and support, the more comments they get, the more they might show off this article on the huge Huffington Post site.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/waylon-lewis/yoga-f

  5. […] form. So which are you, hedonistic heathen or forbidding puritan? Clearly it’s cut and dry. [elephantjournal] [Huffington […]

  6. […] cultures and traditions, which is why when Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal, tweeted this comment he received on his blog yesterday, I was caught (way) off guard: Yoga calls for the regulation of the senses, above all the […]

  7. maheshwari amma says:

    the question is coming up alot in the Yoga world. but remember Yoga is not just Hindu. and its not dogmatic by definition. it is Advaita a particularly highly evolved consciousness within and beyond Hinduism that is non-dual or sees beyond duality to where all are one. if you want to talk Hindu Yoga, Puranas – the old stories – are full of gender bending. the river where i live was created by the tears of Shiva – ayoni jata – (without a womb) after his witnessing a meteor scar burning the earth through the beautiful Nimar Valley. the tears flowed becoming known as his daughter Narmada. although some of the puranas tell of children being born of same sex or trans sex relations by gods (or some no children came of it) the purans tell tales of sexual union of same sex either in disguise or temporarily sex-changed, for higher purposes. also the creation of sons and daughters by non-sexual means is quite common in Hinduism and are considered the most holy of the holy births. Shiva and Parvati themselves created all of Yoga by their union known as Ardhanarishvara (half male/ half female they became one form) because a basic practice in Yoga is Pratyahara, withdrawl of the senses and Brahmacharya, respectful sexual relations – it does mean that a very accomplished Yogi is a renunciate and will not be experiencing any sexual desires of any kind and having a very limited total ahimsa harm-free diet or living on prana alone. however, not everyone is this type of accomplished yogi or aims to be. there are no limitations on anything whatsoever as being forbidden in yoga or advaita philosophies, only suggested are things to do to deepen your practice towards unity with cosmic consciousness. you are free to pick the ones you can work on and ignore the ones you cannot accomplish. nothing should be forced upon anyone in practice. you are free to be a householder or a single person who is dating or whatever and still practice yoga. this may or may not lead to being able to call yourself a yogi (this is a very individual thing others can not put a label to) but certainly you are still practicing yoga and welcomed and encouraged to do so, even if you are on the first one of the steps and never go beyond that. yoga recognizes all ways and paths to divine and even divine sexual union can be a step. ALL activities, including aghoras who eat the charred flesh left on the ghats of funerals find union in doing so can be a step, there are infinite ways and means to temporary unions, steps to being one with divinity. even asanas are temporal sensory activities and therefore temporary moments of yoga. few ever reach permanent nirvikalpa samadhi but to get close to it, and certainly to be near at that state, sexual relations and possibly even food, just aren't in need anymore. in no way is that a judgement of those who have not reached that state. those who are being haughty and judgemental about this are practicing perhaps on the beginner steps aiming for the stars, not seeing the forest for the trees – because what they are doing is divisive rather than unifying.

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