The Great Yoga Debate

The Fight 1 / photo by Vicky Hugheston / CC BY-NC-SA

The Fight 1 / photo by Vicky Hugheston / CC BY-NC-SA

You can call me a yoga nerd, but I think this 2010 debate on The Washington Post’s On Faith forum between Aseem Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, and Deepak Chopra, best-selling spiritual author, is fantastic.

In it, two modern religious thinkers debate the heritage of yoga and its evolution away from its spiritual roots as it gains popularity around the world. Shukla calls it the “theft of yoga” from Hinduism, and Chopra bites back, calling him “sour” and “petty” and asserting that yoga has never “belonged” to the Hindu faith. It’s a bit heady, but I think it’s fascinating. Plus it’s kind of amusing to hear two very lofty men get a bit pissed and nasty while debating a tradition that promotes the opening of small minds. Hey, I was a Religious Studies major, ok??

Despite being very academic, this public correspondence between two spiritual scholars highlights the fact that as yoga’s popularity continues to grow around the world, we are witnessing a radical transformation of an ancient tradition right before our eyes. Like life itself, yoga is ever-changing!

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