How Old is Yoga?

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Disclaimer: I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. So are you. If I’ve got something wrong, comment and I’ll make corrections to this elusive, enigmatic and ill-understood question as we go (that’s the wonder of the web—it’s a two-way street) ~ed.

We American yoga students casually, commonly claim that history shows yoga to be at least 5,000 years old. Why? Because we’ve heard it from some yuppie hippie American dilettante, or read it in online somewhere, or in a marketing brochure.

Fact is, JC and the Buddha came about 2,009 and 2,572 years ago…that’s a loooong time ago. And you’re telling me yoga is twice that? Maybe so…but I don’t get it, yet.

The ancient Hindu Rig Veda is approximately 4000 years old, give or take 500 years…and it doesn’t mention “yoga.” Then, of course, there’s the seminal, philosophical classics Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, both of which mention yoga, which clock in in from the first millennium BCE right up to the modern period.

The only substantive claim yoga has to JCx2 is an image on a coin of a man in full lotus. You call that yoga? Give yoga more credit: it’s a full and expansive, multi-faceted physical and spiritual tradition drawing from several traditions and countless influences. Defining its age necessitates defining just what yoga is—and what it’s not—and that’s tough to do.

A few months back, I was in the Trident cafe, downtown Boulder, talking with my longtime acquaintance Nick Rosen, and he was talking about how, in the course of starring in Enlighten Up!, and meeting with Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, others, he’d learned that yoga was…

…not 5,000 years old

…not even, really, 500 years old

…over at Yogadork, probably my most-visited yoga site these days, Nick Rosen and Svasti politely discuss whether yoga might be 100 years old…here’s an excerpt from Nick’s comments:

“As I understand it, the tradition of asana AS WE PRACTICE IT TODAY — as a set of postures and movements we undertake to achieve health and for some a sense of spiritual/medititative calm, as an end in itself — and by tradition I mean a basically unchanging continuation of practice with the same means and ends, is about 100 years old. There was a book or two traced back to 500 years ago, but the way it was practiced and why it was practiced was very different back then. so how relevant is that?”

…read the rest at Yoga Dork, it’s well worth it. For even more depth on this discussion, check Nick’s Confessions of a Yoga Guinea Pig over at Huffington Post. Excerpt:

“…In a rare interview, BKS Iyengar, the 90-year old ambassador of yoga to the West, told me that his yoga, as taught to him by his master, was a purely physical exercise and completely unrelated to ancient philosophy. He says he invented and refined much of it himself. It wasn’t until 1960, while on a visit to London, that English intellectuals introduced Iyengar to the ancient “yoga sutras”. Five years later, he combined the yoga poses and the Hindu teachings together in his book “Light on Yoga,” which then sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the United States. And voila — the modern yoga craze was born. But it was basically a new age invention, not an ancient practice…”

Yoga as we know it today—hatha yoga—could be said to be just 50 years old, when BKS Iyengar brought various traditions (including British acrobatics) together in his seminal Light on Yoga. As far as the interviews I’ve done with various teachers on this question, this seems to be as accurate a place to plant a marker in the sand as any.

Where I differ from cynical savvy Nick (who cheerfully told me about the Yogadork commentfest yesterday when we ran into each other at the climbing gym) is the importance of defining and protecting “true yoga.” Now, I understand his point that “real yoga” has never really existed. Still, in the soupy marketing hype, the giddy goldrush that is American yoga over the past 15 years, it’s important to beware/be aware of “spiritual materialism“—not from a point of view of defining true yoga and identifying charlatans so much as from a personal practice point of view. Is our practice dedicated to the welfare of all? Is it about opening up to the present moment, and all that brings? Or is it merely about refining and perfecting ourselves, and our ego? Or is the yoga we practice losing its historical, spiritual thread—is it just about refining…our yoga butt?

Of course, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are also a pretty darn decent marker for the advent of “yoga.” Still, the yoga Patanjali talked little about what we know as hatha yoga, and more about about yoga as a spiritual path. Not something your modern soccer mom would recognize as yoga, or even the cousin twice- removed of yoga.

To read a succinct history of yoga, including lots of dates and early forms, click here.

To see my interview with Richard Freeman on the Future of Yoga, click here.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & 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 | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.

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anonymous Oct 8, 2012 11:28am

[…] history can also be complex and confusing. How old is your asana or meditation practice? Answer: it depends. What was the social condition of India like during Buddha’s time? Answer: […]

anonymous Apr 25, 2012 10:56am

[…] not, if you are reading this then there is one thing you know: yoga rocks! Yoga has rocked in India for thousands of years. Yoga has rocked the wild men and women of the shamanic traditions gathered around their fires, the […]

anonymous Nov 20, 2011 4:04pm

Nobody knows how old yoga truly is, if my source is correct it is mentioned in the eldest veda which is thought becuase of it's use of ancient sanskrit to be 7-8,000 years old.

anonymous Aug 13, 2011 8:02pm

[…] yoga? Waylon gave us a picture of a coin depicting what looks like a guy in padmasana. His argument to dismiss this was a two word sentence: […]

anonymous Aug 13, 2011 8:00pm

[…] the yoga blogosphere not too long ago about how old yoga REALLY is. elephant journal wrote about it here, Nick Rosen of the movie Enlighten Up! created controversy at YogaDork’s house when he said […]

anonymous Apr 10, 2011 10:59am

What an interesting article! I’d love more information.Thanks!

anonymous May 11, 2010 10:27am

For a more in depth reply to this article, please read:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/how-old-is

Hinduism as a term is not very old, not more about 1000 years old when the Muslims invaded India and called the people living on the other side of the "Sindhu River" for Hindhu; they simply did not pronounce the word correctly. Later on, when the British cane to India, looted and pillaged, like all great empires and imperialists do, they firmly gave that term nationalistic shape and recognition. So, Hinduism is not very old at all…. the Vedas are old, Yoga is old, Tantra is old, Shaivism is old, etc etc, but not Hinduism. Besides, Hinduism is a foreign construct. Before Hinduism, India was, and still is, a conglomerate of religions and spiritual paths, the two greatest, the Vedic and the Tantric/Yogic is what forms the backbone of India's culture and heritage, not Hinduism, because that term was invented by invaders and later adopted by Indians, as well as, unfortunately, most conquered people do.

anonymous Mar 27, 2010 3:43am

Bla, bla, bla….of Yoga

    Bob Weisenberg Mar 27, 2010 4:08am

    Hi, martin. I have to say you make some interesting points. But your comment on the whole is somewhat repetitive!

anonymous Mar 26, 2010 10:57pm

Was it 35,000 years ago that someone turned on that "magic switch" that started human creativity? Anthropologists are still asking questions about how we suddenly went from virtual animal, to creating cave paintings, pottery, jewelery etc…. I would debate that that was when "yoga" was also born. Yoga is our spiritual/emotional/mental/physical evolution. Asana and pranayama are historically only exercises to get weak bodies in tune for meditation practice. Meditation practice started as soon as Humans had the ability to take a break and not stress over hunting, being hunted or gathering and realised exactly what a still mind actually did for us
Certainly the Pyramids are over 5000 years old and there's paintings there of people practising asana.
As soon as Man could think, become aware and seperate Himself from nature, but also be aware of how much a part of nature He was… that's when yoga was born.
Lots of mindstuff happening above…. kinda reminds me of the 2 monks sitting on the hill watching the prayer flags… one says to the other "flag is moving" the other says "wind is moving" another monk walks by and says "both wrong, mind is moving!"
Yoga can be the art of painting… if painting watercolours stops your mind moving and arguing about when yoga was "invented" is just lots of minds moving……

    Bob Weisenberg Mar 26, 2010 11:20pm

    You're right of course, Tobye.

    But we debate and argue because it's fun and it keeps us out of trouble.

    You don't really take all our fun away, do you?

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

      anonymous Mar 26, 2010 11:32pm

      Not at all Bob! I just like stirring things up a little!

anonymous Mar 6, 2010 4:46pm

"ekam sat viprA bahudA vadanti" – truth is one, paths are many, is a vedic quote, please try to quote the original source as much as possible.
– shashi

anonymous Jan 26, 2010 7:36am

I have not gone through the discussion here. But I have read the post and this particular quote about B.K.S. Iyengar combining yoga poses and hindu practices. All I can say is that my grandmother's grandfather was a yoga practitioner and he used to do asanas, pranayama and meditation which he learnt from his guru. I do not know the details about his practice but it certainly points to a tradition more than 100 years old. Oh, and yes, he passed away in the late 40's.

anonymous Dec 4, 2009 3:45am

Bob, you are absolutely correct – thanks for directing me to the comments below. I'm happy to know they've already been suggested. Thanks also for the links to similar topics.

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 7:13pm

I think it's only fair to mention that both of Rachel's recommended books were also recommended by Nick Rosen in his comments to the original YogaDork blog that set off this wonderful firestorm of discussion in the first place, and they formed the basis for his original controversial interview:

"YogaDork Interviews Kate Churchill and Nick Rosen of Yogamentary Film ‘Enlighten Up!’"
http://www.yogadork.com/2009/11/16/yogadork-inter

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 7:13pm

I think it's only fair to mention that both of Rachel's recommended books were also recommended by Nick Rosen in his comments to the original YogaDork blog that set off this wonderful firestorm of discussion in the first place, and they formed the basis for his original controversial interview:

"YogaDork Interviews Kate Churchill and Nick Rosen of Yogamentary Film ‘Enlighten Up!’"
http://www.yogadork.com/2009/11/16/yogadork-inter

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 7:13pm

I think it's only fair to mention that both of Rachel's recommended books were also recommended by Nick Rosen in his comments to the original YogaDork blog that set off this wonderful firestorm of discussion in the first place, and they formed the basis for his original controversial interview:

"YogaDork Interviews Kate Churchill and Nick Rosen of Yogamentary Film ‘Enlighten Up!’"
http://www.yogadork.com/2009/11/16/yogadork-inter

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 7:13pm

I think it's only fair to mention that both of Rachel's recommended books were also recommended by Nick Rosen in his comments to the original YogaDork blog that set off this wonderful firestorm of discussion in the first place, and they formed the basis for his original controversial interview:

"YogaDork Interviews Kate Churchill and Nick Rosen of Yogamentary Film ‘Enlighten Up!’"
http://www.yogadork.com/2009/11/16/yogadork-inter

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:49pm

Rachel and everyone else. I highly recommend these guest blogs on this same topic by Svasti and the related discussion on Linda's blog:

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:49pm

Rachel and everyone else. I highly recommend these guest blogs on this same topic by Svasti and the related discussion on Linda's blog:

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:49pm

Rachel and everyone else. I highly recommend these guest blogs on this same topic by Svasti and the related discussion on Linda's blog:

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:49pm

Rachel and everyone else. I highly recommend these guest blogs on this same topic by Svasti and the related discussion on Linda's blog:

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

http://lindasyoga.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-dont-kno

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:30pm

Thanks, Rachel. I just put these on my Amazon wish list.

What a novel idea. Seek out books by people who have actually studied this question!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:30pm

Thanks, Rachel. I just put these on my Amazon wish list.

What a novel idea. Seek out books by people who have actually studied this question!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:30pm

Thanks, Rachel. I just put these on my Amazon wish list.

What a novel idea. Seek out books by people who have actually studied this question!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 6:30pm

Thanks, Rachel. I just put these on my Amazon wish list.

What a novel idea. Seek out books by people who have actually studied this question!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Dec 3, 2009 5:56pm

Thanks for posting this article! Obviously there are a lot of misinformed ideas about what yoga "really" is – and a lot of anxiety over maintaining the "authenticity" of the practice. For anyone who is interested, and for anyone who wants to seriously engage with this practice, there are several fantastic books available that delve into the history of yoga and how it has been purposefully reformulated within the context of British colonialism and imperialism since the 1850s. Must reads. They end all speculation. I'd be interested in hearing what you think after reading them.

A History of Modern Yoga, Elizaebth De Michelis
Yoga in Modern India: The Body Between Science and Philosophy, Jospeh S. Alter

elephant journal Dec 3, 2009 12:07am

Looove. that. book.

elephant journal Dec 3, 2009 12:06am

Nice post! Just commented.

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:18am

Righto. Linda-Sama invited me to write a guest post on her blog, which encompasses my response to both this article and the Yoga Dork one. It's a two-parter. You can check out the first part here: I don't know how old yoga is and neither do you — part 1
😀

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:18am

Righto. Linda-Sama invited me to write a guest post on her blog, which encompasses my response to both this article and the Yoga Dork one. It's a two-parter. You can check out the first part here: I don't know how old yoga is and neither do you — part 1
😀

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:18am

Righto. Linda-Sama invited me to write a guest post on her blog, which encompasses my response to both this article and the Yoga Dork one. It's a two-parter. You can check out the first part here: I don't know how old yoga is and neither do you — part 1
😀

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:18am

Righto. Linda-Sama invited me to write a guest post on her blog, which encompasses my response to both this article and the Yoga Dork one. It's a two-parter. You can check out the first part here: I don't know how old yoga is and neither do you — part 1
😀

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:18am

Righto. Linda-Sama invited me to write a guest post on her blog, which encompasses my response to both this article and the Yoga Dork one. It's a two-parter. You can check out the first part here: I don't know how old yoga is and neither do you — part 1
😀

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:12am

On this point I beg to differ. I'd say it all depends on how much study the white dude and the non-white dude have done. Certainly, the non-white dude who has grown up in the culture has an ingrained understanding of the culture, religion and philosophies. BUT a white dude can go and live in India for many years and become just as conversant. Certainly, there are plenty of Indians who are not serious practitioners of Hinduisn and/or yoga. On the other hand, there are also plenty of white dudes (and dudettes) who do practice seriously, and aren't caught up in the western hype surrounding asana based practices…

anonymous Dec 2, 2009 9:04am

Hey Anonymous, Hinduism, from my understanding… was never one religion to begin with. In fact, Hindu is a word that the English used to colloquially describe what they saw of religious practices in India. It was never a native Indian word. It's said the word is derived from the English interloper's mispronunciation of the word "Indu" or "Indus"…

Yoga was never specifically Hindu either, from what I understand. Will read the rest of your comments below before commenting further…

anonymous Nov 30, 2009 1:59am

JamesPMorrison.Thanks for filling us in on that little know bit of Flintstone's history.

That's probably the first known instance of human Yoga. We know, of course, from "Babar's Yoga for Elephants" that Yoga was originally developed by elephants in prehistoric times, and only adopted by humans much later, probably by the Flintstones, who probably picked it up by seeing the same elephant Yoga cave drawings that Babar references.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 30, 2009 1:59am

JamesPMorrison.Thanks for filling us in on that little know bit of Flintstone's history.

That's probably the first known instance of human Yoga. We know, of course, from "Babar's Yoga for Elephants" that Yoga was originally developed by elephants in prehistoric times, and only adopted by humans much later, probably by the Flintstones, who probably picked it up by seeing the same elephant Yoga cave drawings that Babar references.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 30, 2009 1:59am

JamesPMorrison.Thanks for filling us in on that little know bit of Flintstone's history.

That's probably the first known instance of human Yoga. We know, of course, from "Babar's Yoga for Elephants" that Yoga was originally developed by elephants in prehistoric times, and only adopted by humans much later, probably by the Flintstones, who probably picked it up by seeing the same elephant Yoga cave drawings that Babar references.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 30, 2009 1:59am

JamesPMorrison.Thanks for filling us in on that little know bit of Flintstone's history.

That's probably the first known instance of human Yoga. We know, of course, from "Babar's Yoga for Elephants" that Yoga was originally developed by elephants in prehistoric times, and only adopted by humans much later, probably by the Flintstones, who probably picked it up by seeing the same elephant Yoga cave drawings that Babar references.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 29, 2009 11:34pm

Yoga is quite old. It's been said that Fred and Wilma Flintstone practiced asana just before the car hop put those ribs on their car that caused them to tip over. They came through it without severe injuries, thank goodness. Had they adopted a more yogic, plant based diet, it would've helped, to be sure, but more injuries would have been sustained had they not been so relaxed from their practice and meditation.

anonymous Nov 23, 2009 7:46pm

[…] the yoga class we did toppling tree and birds of paradise, now two of my favorite poses. Both toppling tree and birds of paradise are bound balancing poses, and both remind me to maintain […]

anonymous Nov 23, 2009 3:23am

Thanks, Waylon. I agree with most of your original article, in case anyone has a different impression.

Once one is forced to define how the word "Yoga" is being used, then the conversation can make sense. One is forced to say "banana" for "banana", instead of saying "fruit" and expecting everyone to assume "banana".

Your original article and videos brought this into clear relief, and that's why we've had such a great discussion. Most of what I've written have been clarifications of one sort or another, not disagreement with your main point–that "yoga as commonly understood in the US, today" is pretty new, and certainly not 5,000 years old.

(There might be a much larger percentage than you are aware who still study and practice the meditative and spiritual path of the Yoga Sutra, etc., but it's certainly small compared to the number practicing primarily physical Yoga.)

Thanks for kicking off a great discussion.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 23, 2009 3:23am

Thanks, Waylon. I agree with most of your original article, in case anyone has a different impression.

Once one is forced to define how the word "Yoga" is being used, then the conversation can make sense. One is forced to say "banana" for "banana", instead of saying "fruit" and expecting everyone to assume "banana".

Your original article and videos brought this into clear relief, and that's why we've had such a great discussion. Most of what I've written have been clarifications of one sort or another, not disagreement with your main point–that "yoga as commonly understood in the US, today" is pretty new, and certainly not 5,000 years old.

(There might be a much larger percentage than you are aware who still study and practice the meditative and spiritual path of the Yoga Sutra, etc., but it's certainly small compared to the number practicing primarily physical Yoga.)

Thanks for kicking off a great discussion.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 23, 2009 3:23am

Thanks, Waylon. I agree with most of your original article, in case anyone has a different impression.

Once one is forced to define how the word "Yoga" is being used, then the conversation can make sense. One is forced to say "banana" for "banana", instead of saying "fruit" and expecting everyone to assume "banana".

Your original article and videos brought this into clear relief, and that's why we've had such a great discussion. Most of what I've written have been clarifications of one sort or another, not disagreement with your main point–that "yoga as commonly understood in the US, today" is pretty new, and certainly not 5,000 years old.

(There might be a much larger percentage than you are aware who still study and practice the meditative and spiritual path of the Yoga Sutra, etc., but it's certainly small compared to the number practicing primarily physical Yoga.)

Thanks for kicking off a great discussion.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 23, 2009 3:23am

Thanks, Waylon. I agree with most of your original article, in case anyone has a different impression.

Once one is forced to define how the word "Yoga" is being used, then the conversation can make sense. One is forced to say "banana" for "banana", instead of saying "fruit" and expecting everyone to assume "banana".

Your original article and videos brought this into clear relief, and that's why we've had such a great discussion. Most of what I've written have been clarifications of one sort or another, not disagreement with your main point–that "yoga as commonly understood in the US, today" is pretty new, and certainly not 5,000 years old.

(There might be a much larger percentage than you are aware who still study and practice the meditative and spiritual path of the Yoga Sutra, etc., but it's certainly small compared to the number practicing primarily physical Yoga.)

Thanks for kicking off a great discussion.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

elephant journal Nov 23, 2009 12:09am

Thanks for the info–you know much more about me on this, which is why I love the web 2.0 aspect of blogging–comments can inform and be more interesting that the original articles, unlike as in print, which is more one-way.

I know more about the Buddha than I do the history of yoga, however we define "yoga." And I therefore well know that the Buddha himself was a hardcore yogi…that said, the ascetic practices he excelled at were nothing like what we would now recognize as yoga. They involved things like eating one grain of rice a day…they were all pointed directly toward attainment. After seven years, was it, he realized that all his attainments were worthless…he was still unhappy, confused. And so he gave up, and, sitting below the Bodhi tree…as they say, the rest is history.

My basic point in the article above is that we American yoga practitioners DO say "yoga is 5,000 years old" casually and frequently, and most of us, unlike yourself but like myself, don't know what we're talking about. So, inspired by my friend Nick Rosen of Enlighten Up!, who told me a year ago at the Trident cafe about his talks with BKS Iyengar and others, I now view yoga, as commonly understood in the US today, to be about 50 years old.

On the other hand, yes, its roots are ancient. But roots are not the tree.

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 10:24pm

The ancient doctrines of Yoga have, through time gone through some highly questionable etymological processes and often appear as nothing more than Dogma, or academic relics that have since been exploited by a vast array of "common interest" organisations that set out to serve the widest possible range of approaches from religious fundamentalism to the faddish and even what might be considered culturally offensive.

http://yoga-eu.net/opensource/view/YogaMe/English

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:44pm

It's still correct to say that "modern asana-dominated Yoga as practiced today in the West" is only 50-100 years old, depending on how narrowly you define it.

But as another commentator wrote earlier, this could have been said about any period in the progression of Yoga history, the period of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, or the time when before that when Yoga was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation practices. Everything new is 50-100 years old at some point.

I don't think the fact that it's a relatively new phenomenon or even that it's happening in the West means that it shouldn't be linked to the rest of Yoga history. Plus it's not the only thing going on. The practice of Yoga in the West is incredibly varied, ranging from exercise classes to traditional ashrams.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:44pm

It's still correct to say that "modern asana-dominated Yoga as practiced today in the West" is only 50-100 years old, depending on how narrowly you define it.

But as another commentator wrote earlier, this could have been said about any period in the progression of Yoga history, the period of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, or the time when before that when Yoga was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation practices. Everything new is 50-100 years old at some point.

I don't think the fact that it's a relatively new phenomenon or even that it's happening in the West means that it shouldn't be linked to the rest of Yoga history. Plus it's not the only thing going on. The practice of Yoga in the West is incredibly varied, ranging from exercise classes to traditional ashrams.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:44pm

It's still correct to say that "modern asana-dominated Yoga as practiced today in the West" is only 50-100 years old, depending on how narrowly you define it.

But as another commentator wrote earlier, this could have been said about any period in the progression of Yoga history, the period of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, or the time when before that when Yoga was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation practices. Everything new is 50-100 years old at some point.

I don't think the fact that it's a relatively new phenomenon or even that it's happening in the West means that it shouldn't be linked to the rest of Yoga history. Plus it's not the only thing going on. The practice of Yoga in the West is incredibly varied, ranging from exercise classes to traditional ashrams.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:44pm

It's still correct to say that "modern asana-dominated Yoga as practiced today in the West" is only 50-100 years old, depending on how narrowly you define it.

But as another commentator wrote earlier, this could have been said about any period in the progression of Yoga history, the period of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, or the time when before that when Yoga was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation practices. Everything new is 50-100 years old at some point.

I don't think the fact that it's a relatively new phenomenon or even that it's happening in the West means that it shouldn't be linked to the rest of Yoga history. Plus it's not the only thing going on. The practice of Yoga in the West is incredibly varied, ranging from exercise classes to traditional ashrams.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 22, 2009 6:21pm

elephantjournal.

You write in a reply above, " When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history."

I agree with you, except when people use the 5,000 years old number, I don't think they're doing it casually, but rather reflecting authoritative sources they've read.

The logic for the 5,000 years is simply this. Patanjali and the early Upanishads were about 2400 years ago. But rather than marking the "advent of yoga" as you write in your original article above, scholars all agree that Patanjali was merely describing a wide range of practices called "Yoga" that had already been practiced for many years before.

How many years is the hard part. Based on other strong but admittedly non-conclusive evidence, many scholars believe the meditative practices and spiritual beliefs in the Yoga Sutra began in an embryonic way as many as 2500 years earlier, hence the 5000 years. But there is no absolute proof of this.

But we know for sure Yoga did not begin with Patanjali. The Buddha himself, who precedes Patanjali by 100-300 years, was a fully practicing Yogi himself before kind of starting his own little movement.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

elephant journal Nov 22, 2009 5:04pm

Right…not exclusively, but when we say the word yoga, most folks now think body/mind practice…a physical practice that has spiritual aspects of varying degree depending on where and how we practice. Buy that definition, seems to be 50 or 100 years old. Why, only 100 years ago, women weren't even allowed to practice yoga—now they're 80% of the demographic, according to Yoga Journal.

elephant journal Nov 22, 2009 5:03pm

I agree, but that's like saying Buddhism is 8000 years old because the "present moment" has been around forever. When folks casually claim that yoga is 5,000 years old, they/we need to know what we're basing that on. You can't just make up history.

elephant journal Nov 22, 2009 5:01pm

Music is a tough one…a lot of yoga studios, teachers and students love it…it does and can add something to our practice. That said, it's not strictly traditional, I don't think, and can give some classes an acrobatics flair that seems inappropriate to some.

My advice—go back, since you've paid, leave a suggestion in the suggestion box, and breathe through any irritation! Then go to a new studio if, at the end of your paid month, it still doesn't feel like a good fit for you. Depending on where you are, I can probably give you some personal recommendations on where you might best enjoy practicing.

Main thing: keep practicing, that's the hard part for me!

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 4:47am

Hi, anonymous.

I'm not sure who you're writing to anymore. Hopefully it's not me, because I never tried to tell you "what is or isn't Hinduism or Vedic culture." In fact, I explicitly bowed to your "scholarly" knowledge in those areas.

Neither did I ever suggest that Patanjali was not a Hindu sage, only that he rebelled against Vedic customs. Are you talking about Dwight, then? He didn't say Patanjali was not a Hindu either. He said Patanjali should not be viewed as "simply a Hindu sage", a phrase which clearly acknowledges that he was a Hindu sage and more.

I respectfully ask that you read our comments more carefully before responding. It's just not very helpful for you to vigorously defend against statements we never made!

I have certainly read a lot of works by Indian authors as well as foreigners, so I don't think that's an issue with my comments.

I like swati jr's answer the best so far. Yoga has a life of it's own as the wondrous reality of the universe, regardless of human definitions and regardless even of human existence! A pretty abstract concept, but almost certainly the highest and most infinite truth, for those who like to think that way. Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. But it tastes delicious to me!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 4:47am

Hi, anonymous.

I'm not sure who you're writing to anymore. Hopefully it's not me, because I never tried to tell you "what is or isn't Hinduism or Vedic culture." In fact, I explicitly bowed to your "scholarly" knowledge in those areas.

Neither did I ever suggest that Patanjali was not a Hindu sage, only that he rebelled against Vedic customs. Are you talking about Dwight, then? He didn't say Patanjali was not a Hindu either. He said Patanjali should not be viewed as "simply a Hindu sage", a phrase which clearly acknowledges that he was a Hindu sage and more.

I respectfully ask that you read our comments more carefully before responding. It's just not very helpful for you to vigorously defend against statements we never made!

I have certainly read a lot of works by Indian authors as well as foreigners, so I don't think that's an issue with my comments.

I like swati jr's answer the best so far. Yoga has a life of it's own as the wondrous reality of the universe, regardless of human definitions and regardless even of human existence! A pretty abstract concept, but almost certainly the highest and most infinite truth, for those who like to think that way. Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. But it tastes delicious to me!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 4:47am

Hi, anonymous.

I'm not sure who you're writing to anymore. Hopefully it's not me, because I never tried to tell you "what is or isn't Hinduism or Vedic culture." In fact, I explicitly bowed to your "scholarly" knowledge in those areas.

Neither did I ever suggest that Patanjali was not a Hindu sage, only that he rebelled against Vedic customs. Are you talking about Dwight, then? He didn't say Patanjali was not a Hindu either. He said Patanjali should not be viewed as "simply a Hindu sage", a phrase which clearly acknowledges that he was a Hindu sage and more.

I respectfully ask that you read our comments more carefully before responding. It's just not very helpful for you to vigorously defend against statements we never made!

I have certainly read a lot of works by Indian authors as well as foreigners, so I don't think that's an issue with my comments.

I like swati jr's answer the best so far. Yoga has a life of it's own as the wondrous reality of the universe, regardless of human definitions and regardless even of human existence! A pretty abstract concept, but almost certainly the highest and most infinite truth, for those who like to think that way. Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. But it tastes delicious to me!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 4:47am

Hi, anonymous.

I'm not sure who you're writing to anymore. Hopefully it's not me, because I never tried to tell you "what is or isn't Hinduism or Vedic culture." In fact, I explicitly bowed to your "scholarly" knowledge in those areas.

Neither did I ever suggest that Patanjali was not a Hindu sage, only that he rebelled against Vedic customs. Are you talking about Dwight, then? He didn't say Patanjali was not a Hindu either. He said Patanjali should not be viewed as "simply a Hindu sage", a phrase which clearly acknowledges that he was a Hindu sage and more.

I respectfully ask that you read our comments more carefully before responding. It's just not very helpful for you to vigorously defend against statements we never made!

I have certainly read a lot of works by Indian authors as well as foreigners, so I don't think that's an issue with my comments.

I like swati jr's answer the best so far. Yoga has a life of it's own as the wondrous reality of the universe, regardless of human definitions and regardless even of human existence! A pretty abstract concept, but almost certainly the highest and most infinite truth, for those who like to think that way. Not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. But it tastes delicious to me!

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 4:01am

The sanskrit word "yoga" actually translates to "union"- Union of mind and spirit. Yoga as a physical practice was originally one of the eight ways to transcend… certainly not a means to gain physical fitness.

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 3:49am

yoga is and forever will be. all babes in the womb are practicing yoga asanas and are created out of nadum- primordial sound. life is a constant striving to return to our sacred source….to ask how old yoga is, is really a chicken and egg question. there has always been yoga. and whether humans are here or not, there will be yoga still.

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 3:43am

it's true, people like to jumble Hinduism in with all Vedic knowledge. that is incorrect. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. came in the post-Vedic time period. "Ved" just means "total knowledge" and has NO religious connotation. i really wish people would stop lumping Hinduism into the same category as ved and all the vedic texts. this is incorrect. pre-Vedic times were even more interesting and based on matriarchy and nature worship. that's where it gets really interesting…..

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 6:40pm

The real question you are probably asking here: How long have people been doing 'yoga' exclusively as an exercise for the mind/body? about 50-100 years.

anonymous Nov 20, 2009 1:34am

That said, nothing against 'white dudes' – but I think you understand that a person living and breathing the culture is more of an authority and more authentic than a guy who comes in off a boat somewhere to study the people and their traditions.

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:35pm

anonymous.

I really enjoyed reading all your history of Hinduism in your many comments above. It was very interesting and informative.

This doesn't mean you can or should change the way the word "Yoga" is used by the majority of the world today. And it doesn't mean there is any nefarious plot, as you suggest in your first comment above, to "dismantle" Yoga from its roots. I refer you back to my original comment above:

"Yoga is a very general term used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION."

You can't change the march of language. But it is certainly good for you to clarify Yoga's roots. I suggest you just focus on that, as you do in most of your interesting discourse above, and give up the quest to change the way the rest of the world uses the word "Yoga". That ship has long since sailed.

My only other comment is that, from many other scholarly sources, and from reading the texts themselves, I have the strong impression that the Yogis of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra were actually rebelling against much of the practices of the Vedas, not supporting them. Certainly that was true of the Buddha. In contrast, you make it seem like it was just one big happy stream of Hinduism. However, I'm not the scholar that you are, so I'm not the one to try to debate this with you.

Thanks again for all the interesting history. And thanks again to Waylon to be willing to risk walking into this buzz saw and being so open, as he states in his opening disclaimer, to the expected strong response.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:35pm

anonymous.

I really enjoyed reading all your history of Hinduism in your many comments above. It was very interesting and informative.

This doesn't mean you can or should change the way the word "Yoga" is used by the majority of the world today. And it doesn't mean there is any nefarious plot, as you suggest in your first comment above, to "dismantle" Yoga from its roots. I refer you back to my original comment above:

"Yoga is a very general term used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION."

You can't change the march of language. But it is certainly good for you to clarify Yoga's roots. I suggest you just focus on that, as you do in most of your interesting discourse above, and give up the quest to change the way the rest of the world uses the word "Yoga". That ship has long since sailed.

My only other comment is that, from many other scholarly sources, and from reading the texts themselves, I have the strong impression that the Yogis of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra were actually rebelling against much of the practices of the Vedas, not supporting them. Certainly that was true of the Buddha. In contrast, you make it seem like it was just one big happy stream of Hinduism. However, I'm not the scholar that you are, so I'm not the one to try to debate this with you.

Thanks again for all the interesting history. And thanks again to Waylon to be willing to risk walking into this buzz saw and being so open, as he states in his opening disclaimer, to the expected strong response.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:35pm

anonymous.

I really enjoyed reading all your history of Hinduism in your many comments above. It was very interesting and informative.

This doesn't mean you can or should change the way the word "Yoga" is used by the majority of the world today. And it doesn't mean there is any nefarious plot, as you suggest in your first comment above, to "dismantle" Yoga from its roots. I refer you back to my original comment above:

"Yoga is a very general term used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION."

You can't change the march of language. But it is certainly good for you to clarify Yoga's roots. I suggest you just focus on that, as you do in most of your interesting discourse above, and give up the quest to change the way the rest of the world uses the word "Yoga". That ship has long since sailed.

My only other comment is that, from many other scholarly sources, and from reading the texts themselves, I have the strong impression that the Yogis of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra were actually rebelling against much of the practices of the Vedas, not supporting them. Certainly that was true of the Buddha. In contrast, you make it seem like it was just one big happy stream of Hinduism. However, I'm not the scholar that you are, so I'm not the one to try to debate this with you.

Thanks again for all the interesting history. And thanks again to Waylon to be willing to risk walking into this buzz saw and being so open, as he states in his opening disclaimer, to the expected strong response.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:35pm

anonymous.

I really enjoyed reading all your history of Hinduism in your many comments above. It was very interesting and informative.

This doesn't mean you can or should change the way the word "Yoga" is used by the majority of the world today. And it doesn't mean there is any nefarious plot, as you suggest in your first comment above, to "dismantle" Yoga from its roots. I refer you back to my original comment above:

"Yoga is a very general term used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION."

You can't change the march of language. But it is certainly good for you to clarify Yoga's roots. I suggest you just focus on that, as you do in most of your interesting discourse above, and give up the quest to change the way the rest of the world uses the word "Yoga". That ship has long since sailed.

My only other comment is that, from many other scholarly sources, and from reading the texts themselves, I have the strong impression that the Yogis of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra were actually rebelling against much of the practices of the Vedas, not supporting them. Certainly that was true of the Buddha. In contrast, you make it seem like it was just one big happy stream of Hinduism. However, I'm not the scholar that you are, so I'm not the one to try to debate this with you.

Thanks again for all the interesting history. And thanks again to Waylon to be willing to risk walking into this buzz saw and being so open, as he states in his opening disclaimer, to the expected strong response.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:06pm

I thought yoga and Hinduism evolved together…or at least were evolving during some of the same time periods. (Didn't Feurstein address this subject in his big Yoga Tradition book, the title of which is now escaping me?)

/me makes mental note to go find scholarly discussion on this topic that is backed up with research

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:18am

As a footnote: Sanatana Dharma posits also that there have been several universes in past cycles of creation and dissolution. In each cycle of creation, a new group of 'saptarishis' (mind-born sons of the creator) manifest themselves, only to start the process of progenation all over again. The universe is said to be cyclical (samsara) where the pattern of life and death continually happen over and over and over and over again. Everything spawns from the creator, and merges back into the creator at the time of the final dissolution. The time for 1 universe cycle is many billions of years. Within that timespan, several ages are defined. …and so on.

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:09am

As to both Patanjali and Swatmarama … both are Hindu sages. Patanjali being substantially older.

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 7:04am

A small clarification to your statement above: Vedic culture is not equated with hinduism. Vedic culture IS hinduism. There is no difference. Without the vedas, there is no hinduism. Without the vedas, the other three offshoots would still survive – as they do not rely on the vedas for their immediate authority. They rely on the disciplic succession from master-pupil starting with the authority of their respective founders (Sikh: Guru Gobind, Buddhism: Buddha, Jainism: Mahavir, etc.). Vedic authority comes directly from the vedas. To this day, all four vedas are chanted in their original form unchanged. Sanskrit has a mathematical structure that enables it to retain its original purity. In hinduism (vedic culture / sanatana dharma) it is called the language of the Gods.

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 6:59am

The very letters of the sanskrit language are considered seed letters – they are physical manifestations in the form of sound that represent the fundamental vibrations from which the universe was created. In Sanatana Dharma, the origin of the universe is based in the sound-tattva (principle) meaning it is based on the concept of waves. Overlapping waves (similar to sound) propagate from Brahman, resulting in the creation. These waves are termed as 'nada brahma' (vibrations emanating from Brahman). These waves are the dynamic principle (shakthi) and are perceived by a perceiver (the Witness, or Shiva). It is the union (yoga) of Shiva and Shakthi that is the Universe. The animate principle is shakthi (energy) while the static principle is shiva (the witness, or awareness consciousness).

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 6:48am

*pantheistic should read polytheistic (or any -theistic if you like).

anonymous Nov 19, 2009 1:30am

How did vedic culture get equated with Hinduism? The Vedas gave rise to Buddhism, Jain, Hindu, and Sikh not to mention yoga. And yoga, by the way, is devoid of the gods of any religion at least the way Patanjali wrote of it and Swatmarama.

anonymous Nov 18, 2009 11:04pm

Furthermore, the whole '4000 years old' '5000 years old' is based on the extremely biased interpretation of vedic culture by Max Mueller who needed to fit hindu cosmology into his biased christian timeline which required the world to begin not more than 5000 years ago. Hindu cosmology goes back several billion years, but this is completely discounted due to the work of Max Mueller and friends. There are references to certain star configurations that only happened ~90,000 years ago in the vedas. Vedic literature refers to several ages (yugas) that themselves are extremely long spans of time.

elephant journal Nov 18, 2009 11:02pm

That said, thumbs up for the passion and knowledge!

elephant journal Nov 18, 2009 10:59pm

Hinduism itself is hard to define as "one" tradition.

elephant journal Nov 18, 2009 8:55pm

Yah, that was pretty hack. I edited up both sections. Thanks for the comments.

anonymous Nov 18, 2009 8:30pm

This whole discussion is like using the word "fruit" and describing a banana. Then someone comes along and says, that's not what a fruit is, it's really an apple, etc.

The only true answer to this meaningless and false conundrum is that the word Yoga is a very general term correctly used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION. The word Yoga is used 28 different ways in the Bhagavad Gita alone. It was already a very general term back then.

Other quick comments:

Any discussion of the roots of Yoga, even a summary one, is woefully incomplete without the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, which are at least co-equal with the Yoga Sutra in defining early Yoga.

Your paragraph about the Yoga Sutra is disturbingly inaccurate in a number of ways, but I'm out of time at the moment, and I hope other commentators will jump on that. If they don't I'll write again later!

Thanks for an interesting and provocative article.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 18, 2009 8:30pm

This whole discussion is like using the word "fruit" and describing a banana. Then someone comes along and says, that's not what a fruit is, it's really an apple, etc.

The only true answer to this meaningless and false conundrum is that the word Yoga is a very general term correctly used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION. The word Yoga is used 28 different ways in the Bhagavad Gita alone. It was already a very general term back then.

Other quick comments:

Any discussion of the roots of Yoga, even a summary one, is woefully incomplete without the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, which are at least co-equal with the Yoga Sutra in defining early Yoga.

Your paragraph about the Yoga Sutra is disturbingly inaccurate in a number of ways, but I'm out of time at the moment, and I hope other commentators will jump on that. If they don't I'll write again later!

Thanks for an interesting and provocative article.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

anonymous Nov 18, 2009 8:30pm

This whole discussion is like using the word "fruit" and describing a banana. Then someone comes along and says, that's not what a fruit is, it's really an apple, etc.

The only true answer to this meaningless and false conundrum is that the word Yoga is a very general term correctly used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION. The word Yoga is used 28 different ways in the Bhagavad Gita alone. It was already a very general term back then.

Other quick comments:

Any discussion of the roots of Yoga, even a summary one, is woefully incomplete without the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, which are at least co-equal with the Yoga Sutra in defining early Yoga.

Your paragraph about the Yoga Sutra is disturbingly inaccurate in a number of ways, but I'm out of time at the moment, and I hope other commentators will jump on that. If they don't I'll write again later!

Thanks for an interesting and provocative article.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

Bob Weisenberg Nov 18, 2009 1:30pm

This whole discussion is like using the word "fruit" and describing a banana. Then someone comes along and says, that's not what a fruit is, it's really an apple, etc.

The only true answer to this meaningless and false conundrum is that the word Yoga is a very general term correctly used to describe a very wide variety of things. THIS IS LINGUISTIC REALITY NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION. The word Yoga is used 28 different ways in the Bhagavad Gita alone. It was already a very general term back then.

Other quick comments:

Any discussion of the roots of Yoga, even a summary one, is woefully incomplete without the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, which are at least co-equal with the Yoga Sutra in defining early Yoga.

Your paragraph about the Yoga Sutra is disturbingly inaccurate in a number of ways, but I'm out of time at the moment, and I hope other commentators will jump on that. If they don't I'll write again later!

Thanks for an interesting and provocative article.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com