October 28, 2009

First It Was Yobo, Now There is Ratra (Radical Traditional) Yoga


You may have heard of Yobo, the un-Yoga. It was my modest proposal for resolving the debate raging here on Elephant Journal and in the Yoga blogosphere over what is, or isn’t Yoga.

It goes like this:

Let’s require that any practice that doesn’t meet whatever standard we set be called “Yobo” instead of “Yoga”. All Yobo studios and their corporate sponsors would be required to prominently display the following language on all their marketing material:

We practice Yobo here. While Yobo is inspired by certain limited aspects of Yoga, it does not include enough meditation, breathing, spirituality and study of ancient texts to qualify as Yoga.

There would, of course, have to be a certification committee that would set the rules and determine what is Yobo and what is Yoga.

Problem solved! No more inappropriate use of the word “Yoga.”

Then I got to thinking, gee, shouldn’t we ultra-traditionalists have our own hot new name for what we practice? So I came up with the term “Radical Traditional Yoga,” or Ratra Yoga.

The devotee of Ratra Yoga is:

  1. One who thinks everything after the Yoga Sutra (about 2,400 years ago) is an unnecessary modern innovation.
  2. One who reads and rereads the big three ancient Yoga texts, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutra and all the commentaries he/she can find.
  3. One who thinks later Hatha and Tantra practices are filled with as much distracting ritualistic excess as the Vedic rites the original Yogis (including Buddha) were rebelling against in the first place.
  4. One who believes Yoga is not hard work, but rather ecstatic realization of the wonder of the universe.
  5. Believes everyone is already wondrous (“divine”, if you prefer) and Yoga consists of simply realizing that fact, through whatever method works for each individual.
  6. One who therefore embraces all forms of Yoga, even Yobo.
  7. One who does asana (poses), but only in limited form and as much for meditation as exercise.
  8. Who believes the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita represent universal truths that can be found in any religion and any life.
  9. Whose idea of Yoga practice is 1) living life with love and purpose, 2) detaching the ego from results, 3) focusing the mind, and 4) experiencing the wonder of the universe, just as these ancient texts proclaim.

Now that we have Yobo and Ratra Yoga, we can extend the Yoga spectrum in both directions with clarity for all, and embrace everything in between.

What do you think?

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