Commercialization of Hindu Practices (Yoga) Wiegand B: Nina Mussa

I believe this is showing balance (like middle way)

The commercialization of Hindu practices, yoga, was the topic I chose because while the topic has Indian roots, the issue surrounds us daily. From a study completed this January, it has been shown in the United States, that since 2012, the number of yoga practitioners of yoga has increased from 20.4 million to 36 million and counting. This is one example of how the practice of yoga, religious or not, has been increasingly marketed over different countries. Additionally, the annual revenue for yoga studios, apparel and equipment has reached an all time high having risen from $10 billion to $16 billion, in the past four years.

I wanted to investigate the root of yoga and see whether or not it was regarded as a religious practice. I also wonder if Indians feel that yoga is a religious practice or not, because many of the people who practice commercialized yoga are not practicing it for religious reasons. I was intrigued to find out how yoga is regarded in the East (mainly India) as opposed to in the West. In class, we’ve studied meditation and the idea of reaching enlightenment, which involves countless hours of yoga(meditation) and finding the ability to connect to oneself. We’ve studied the spiritual meaning of yoga, but all around the world yoga has become something else entirely. However, it can be said that there are some similarities in the way things are practiced in the East to how yoga is performed in the West.

The Root: The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word, “yuj”, which means to unite. The western part of the world began to be intrigued by yoga during 1893-95, this was initiated by a man from Calcutta by the name of Swami Vivekanada. He demonstrated to western people how they could achieve peace of mind even though they had worldly goals. The majority of Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to “control the senses and ultimately, the mind”. One famous example is the Bhagavad Gita, proving that yoga was an ancient practice and it’s impressive to still see its legacy today. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna speaks of four types of yoga: bhakti, devotion; jnana, knowledge; karma, the fruit of action; and dhyana, concentration. He states that these are paths to achieve moksha- the ultimate goal for Hindus.

Controversial India: According to The Times of India, from Global Issues in Context, yoga is simply a spiritual practice and doesn't pertain to religion. They claim that yoga has been mistaken as a religious product of Hinduism when in fact, it use originated in the same place. However, the controversy of whether or not this is true, in India, still exists. According to the National, the Indian supreme court is debating whether yoga is a religious practice or not because they want to make yoga compulsory for children ages 6 to 13 in public schools. They can’t deny that yoga is linked to Hinduism android force it upon the students would be forcing a religious ritual on secular schools. Many non- Hindus believe that yoga contains practices that contradict their faiths. However, in the United States, among other countries, yoga is used as a way to relax and connect with yourself, not as a religious practice (most of the time). For example, we are a secular school but yoga has been incorporated into our curriculum because the school wants us to become more mindful and aware of oneself.

The Importance for Americans to know about the Hindu/Buddhist legacy: This topic pertains to many Americans because over 36 million of them practice yoga. Practitioners of yoga should be aware of the legacy of yoga because many of them aren't aware that sometimes, yoga is regarded as a religious practice whereas yoga in America( most of the time) is used for therapeutic reasons.

THANKS FOR READING!

Credits:

Created with images by Ben_Kerckx - "image buddha meditation" • Devanath - "harmony relax rock" • sasint - "adult eat ancient" • cdrummbks - "bhagavad-gita" • suc - "thailand buddhists monks" • Gamma Man - "6-9-12 Project Yoga Richmond"

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