Editor's blog: is yoga losing its morality?

Friday 17 August, 2007

yogaA new book by leading yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein argues that yoga's huge following has a darker side: a loss of its ethical and spiritiual roots.


In his book, Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, Feuerstein argues that it is impossible to be a good yoga practitioner without also being a "morally mature" individual.

Yoga is not about glamour, he says; it's an ancient, spiritual tradigion concerned with personal growth and the ultimate - if gradual - transformation of body and mind.

Having authoried over 30 books on yoga, hinduism and tantra - not to mention translating seminal yoga texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Feuerstein knows what he's talking about.

Part of his argument centres on the five virtues taught by Patanjali: nonharming, truthfulness, nonstealing, greedlessness and chastity.

Some of these words can be taken at their broadest meaning: the USA's national debt of nearly $9 trillion is a form of greed, in his opinion.

But as admirable as this purist view might be, my own feeling is that this kind of moral high ground stands to alienate rather than include.

Most Westerners, myself included, came to yoga with the simple aim of improving physical fitness and learning how to relax.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this less worthy goal. One of the wonderful things about yoga is that it means different things to different people.

It's equally possibly to turn vegetarian and follow a pure yogic lifetyle, or simply turn up to a 90 minute class once a week and walk away from its wider philosophical and ethical concerns.

Surely it doesn't really matter, one way or the other.

When something gets big and successful there's almost always a downside - and perhaps in yoga's case this is that it's now a $4 billion-a-year industry as well as an ancient spiritual tradition.

Its an uneasy co-existence, for sure. But I reckon the yogic snow ball will just keep on rolling. Wishing away the layers of commercialism and "immorality" is worthy but ultimately idealistic.


What do you think? Has yoga got too big and lost its ethical path? Please log in and leave your thoughts below.


Lucia Cockcroft, editor


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   Hello, Hari om, Thanks


  Hello, Hari om,

 Thanks for sharing. Geat work on the site.

  Om Shanti      Steve Fitzgerrel

Thanks Steve!LuciaEditor -

Thanks Steve!

Editor - Yoga-abode

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