top of page

The Modern "Yoga" Confusion THE HIGHJACKING OF YOGA


What is true Yoga? What is, today, generally presented as "yoga?" The former are the many, progressive spiritual/religious disciplines of Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism. Naturally, these spiritual/religious teachings and practices are offered freely by qualified Hindus (Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs--sects of Sanatan Dharma). The latter is simply an exercise fad (with, perhaps, a vague "spirituality" attached) peddled by unqualified (though often falsely titling themselves "certified") personalities.


What is crudely and irresponsibly presented as "yoga" today demonstrates a lack of understanding and compassion. The blatant misrepresentations of the Hindu/Yoga disciplines exemplify the age-old immature, elitist and bigoted mind-set that has historically been responsible for stealing from and abusing whole cultures and religions.


Sometimes modern so-called "yoga" is claimed to be (spiritual) science and not religion. This type of "yoga" is science fiction or pseudo science. Many Hindus (sadly) chuckle when they hear the trite phrase "yoga is not religion but science." Such a statement demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the words "yoga," "religion" and "science." Modern so-called "yoga" is only "science" in the sense of an egocentric experiment gone awry--a crude materialistic manipulation of a profound spiritual/religious wisdom. Authentic yoga however (indeed all genuine spiritual/religious experience and knowledge) is, by definition, pure science; i.e., "knowledge."

Religion without science is blind; science without religion is lame. - Spinoza

Purusha (Soul) without Prakriti (Matter) is blind; Prakriti without Purusha is lame -Hindu Sankhya Darsana.


It is a sad fact that the profound spiritual/religious disciplines of Hinduism/Yoga have been high-jacked by "new-age fundamentalists." These elitists have fabricated a fictitious dogma that aggressively separates the many yoga disciplines from their essential Hindu roots. Focusing primarily on the physical, these merchants of vanity have, for the most part, created a costly exercise business complete with its own celebrity CEO's--none of which has anything to do with authentic yoga. Even those who recognize something spiritual in the yoga practices generally advertise something far removed from the original intent. These get your spiritual "certification" quickly groups create their own dogmatism and leaders.Regardless of the context, the fundamentalist (a relatively recent term to identify Protestant Christian dogmatism) mindset has a strikingly similar modus operandi and attendant rhetoric. Dogma as opinion and religious principle is certainly fine, but if an opinion and principle are held to in the face of facts to the contrary, one is being dogmatic. Often dogmatic individuals and groups begin by latching on to an already established tradition and then separate out what appeals to their goals. Over time, the illusion is created that this by-product has a new and unique ownership. Paradoxically, through this form of terrorism, the fundamentalist enters the business of "universalism." The cycle is complete by establishing a credo of a false "oneness." When those of the original tradition voice their opposition, the retort is cloaked in this (what is of course an egocentric) "universalism." The following are common cliche's in the false "yoga movement" (but could be, perhaps, applicable to many fundamentalists in general) that arise out of this elitist fundamentalism:


We respect all religions. This cliche is trite lip-service as there is no respect for the original tradition, in this case Hinduism. To one who repeats this cliche, simply ask "What is your religion?"

We are spiritual but not religious. Not only does this statement demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the words "religion" and "yoga;" i.e., "to link-back" and "to yoke" to the spirit, respectively but also an "obvious" elitist view which completely contradicts the first myth. As well as insulting millions of Hindus without whom there would be no yoga disciplines, this cliche really demonstrates little thoughtful consideration for the religious beliefs of the naive student.

Yoga is universal. This myth should be blatantly obvious. Yoga is for everybody is another "obvious" attempt to create a universal dogma. Yes, Hindus are generally very open in sharing their teachings, but this cultic/universal statement has been exploited by fundamentalists throughout time. Simply change the word "yoga" in this and the previous cliche to suit one's group of choice to see the "obvious" blunder.

Yoga is science not religion. The humor and elitism in this myth is inescapable. In science classes everywhere, students "of course" study yoga and "we all know" that religious people are not knowledgeable. Of course true yoga and religion is pure science as knowledge--a basic definition that escapes the "yoga fundamentalists."

Yoga is a lifestyle and not a religion. Again this statement is not only bigoted against "religious people" but also a statement ignorant of the many profound religious traditions/lifestyles.


Remember similar to a true teacher of any of the great religions, a true teacher of any aspect of Yoga will be a Hindu (Buddhist, Jain or Sikh--though Hatha Yoga is strictly Hindu). Such teachers are easily recognized by their Sanskrit names. Whether it be Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga or Jnana Yoga, the genuine teacher will always present the Yoga within the religious context. Again similar to any religion, the teachings are always offered only on a donation basis. Adhering to these common sense principles will provide the vital foundation for an authentic Classical Yoga/Hindu experience.


It is possible to de-evolve. It is also possible to turn again towards evolution and development. The mission of CYHA is to promote a healthy status quo and further evolution and development of the Classical Hindu Yogas.



Visit the Ashram Store for Publications:

bottom of page