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Frauds in modern yoga PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Manatosh   
Monday, 15 November 2010
Recently, navigating in internet, I found a website of a quite famous school of yoga in Northern Europe, and reading a little about some of the presentations of their courses I found really weird what they were writing about Ashtanga Vinyasa.


Some year ago I have written my self an article about the definition of Ashtanga Yoga, and lately I was happy to notice that also many other yoga scholars in internet were writing articles about that subject, so people seem to become more and more aware of the fact that the name Ashtanga has been badly misused and misunderstood for quite a long time due to the choice of a famous Guru in South India (Pattabhi Jois) to use that word to name his school.

Now, I want first of all clarify that I have nothing against the style of yoga promoted by the school of Pattabhi Jois. In the yoga tradition, from its very beginning, there are many different styles and many different approaches, and to me this makes a lot of sense because, as my Guru used to say, everything changes according to time, space, and person, so it is absolutely natural that people in different times and  different places choose to practise yoga in different ways, so they can suit the needs they have in that specific period/situation.
In many tantric schools for example, the techniques for meditate and for practising asanas change from person to person, the Guru gives different mantras to different people, gives different bindus (points where concentrate the mind), and different asanas (physical exercises). As I said earlier, everything changes according to the potenziality/personality of the yoga student (samskara).
I find that approach very nice, by the way, because it indicates a deep respect for the natural differences in every person.
So, having said that, I want to return now to the Ashtanga Yoga definition problem. In the website that I was mentioning in the beginning they are writing:

"Ashtanga vinyasa yoga originates in India. In the 1930ies Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) and his guru Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya deciphered an old writing, Yoga Korunta, by the sage Vamana Rishi. The work accentuates the importance of vinyasa, describes sequences of postures (asanas) and other aspects of yoga philosophy and practice (e.g. bandhas, dristi and mudras). Together with other classical yoga writings such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika the interpretation of Yoga Korunta constitutes the foundation of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. Because Guruji thought that this practice was the most original form of yoga – the Ashtanga yoga explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra – he gave it the name Ashtanga vinyasa yoga"

Who knows? Maybe I don't practice meditation enough (or maybe too much..!), but when I read this kind of things, I feel a very deep sense of injustice.
The reality is that all the story about the Yoga Korunta is totally made up, and even the Patthabi Jois devotees know about it. It never existed any ancient text with that name, and for sure at the time of Patanjali (150 b.C.) the yogis were spending their time sitting in meditation and practising kriyas, bandhas, mudras and static asanas (I write "static" because traditionally an asana supposes to be hold for a while, in a quiet, comfortable way, without any form of dynamic flow between one position and the other).
So, it is obvious and historically provable that the highly dynamic yoga promoted by the school of Patthabi Jois has no link at all with the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali. The traditional Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali was a method of meditation, Ashtanga means 8 limbs and is referring to the 8 techniques that one yogi supposes to practice to reach Samadhi (mental peace or bliss, coming from the experience of feeling harmonically and perfectly "United" with the life around, after being able to control or channelise the propensities of the mind).

- Yama
- Nyama
- Asanas
- Pratyahara
- Pranayama
- Dharana
- Dhyan
- Samadhi

These are the 8 points of the real Ashtanga Yoga.

So, I wonder how people can choose to lie so badly, writing things that are completely false and even selling them very expensively!

I repeat it, it is just fine to add dynamism to the yoga practice, I think that Patthabi Jois with his method managed to make yoga popular among those people that were not able to stay calm in one position for a long time. So that's great. But to claim that this method is the original ancient way to practice yoga and that comes directly from the time of Patanjali, this is simply a pure, cultural FRAUD.

Patanjali statue

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 June 2012 )
 
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