HAF Refutes LA Times' Attempt to Delink Yoga from Hinduism

Washington, D.C. (April 13, 2010) - The following Letter to the Editor was sent to the L.A. Times and the Baltimore Sun, where the original article was republished.  Neither paper published the LTE.
 
Dear Editor -
 
In Bending yoga to fit their worship needs (April 5, 2010), Nomi Morris highlights a troubling trend in the yoga world of disassociating the practice of yoga from its Hindu roots.  The ultimate goal of yoga is moksha, the Hindu ideal of liberation from the worldly cycle of birth and rebirth. Unfortunately, Morris quotes only erroneous claims that "no one religion can claim ownership" of yoga, while ignoring the obvious Hindu references in the core yogic texts such as Patajanli's Yoga Sutras or Swami Svatmarama's Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  The latter even begins with reverence to the Hindu God Siva and Goddess Parvati. 
 
Perhaps the most famous yogi of modern times, B.K.S Iyengar, unequivocally asserts yoga's link to Hinduism in his Light on Yoga, "Some asanas are also called after Gods of the Hindu pantheon and some recall the Avataras, or incarnations of Divine Power."  One then wonders how Western yogis, who regularly practice asanas with names such as Hanumanasana and Natarajanasana, can blatantly deny the Hindu roots of yoga.
 
While yoga practitioners do not need to convert or profess their allegiance to Hinduism, they need to appreciate the fact that yoga is one of Hinduism's greatest contributions to the world, rooted in Hindu philosophy and an essential part of Hindu belief and practice.  Yoga is a means of spiritual attainment for any and all seekers, but the Western trend of severing its links to Hindu philosophy is perhaps a signal that it's time for Hindus to take back yoga and insist on credit where credit is due.
 
Thank you,
Sachi Lamb
Member, Executive Council
Hindu American Foundation