Danelle Hollenbeck

danelle hollenbeck


view:  full / summary

Why Yoga Has Gone From the Insane to the Bizarre

Posted by [email protected] on March 1, 2012 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Why Yoga Has Gone From the Sane to the Bizarre





Yoga has come a long way from its roots in the east. As it has become more popular in the west teachers have added their own twist – both literally & figuratively. In the process of becoming so widespread, however, it often gets misunderstood by both teachers and practitioners.


Yoga is a way of life, the uniting of the body, mind and spirit. Its real purpose is not just to become physically fit or mentally relaxed but also to deepen our own spirituality, enabling us to be more caring and aware, ultimately leading to self-realization. It is about making friends with our world, true inner happiness, and having a clear mind that is free from delusion.


Developed thousands of years ago, yoga has many different aspects: ethics, discipline, relaxation, service, meditation, devotion, and knowledge, as well as movement, in order to develop every aspect of our being and bring awakening. And it is in some of these other areas that we are seeing a lack of awareness, real misuse, and even abusive behavior.


In the early days, when yoga first became known in the west, the only way to train was by going to India or by a Swami or yoga master coming from India. They were the experts who embodied the wisdom of the ancients. For instance, Ed trained at the respected Bihar School of Yoga in India in 1968, in an unbroken lineage of yoga masters. He was initiated as a Swami by Paramahamsa Satyananda, whose guru was the renown Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.


Nowadays, trainee teachers are being taught in “yoga schools” by western teachers, many, sadly, without the benefit of the traditional lineage. As a result, misunderstandings get passed on from teacher to student, in particular the idea that yoga is basically just exercise, without the addition of the rest of the teachings. For example, relaxation is sometimes included just for the last five minutes of a class, whereas the practice of yoga nidra (pratyahara), a deep, dynamic relaxation also known as yogic sleep, is traditionally practiced for at least 20-30 minutes. Similarly with dharana (concentration), and dhyana (meditation), that are rarely emphasized enough and yet are main teachings.


We went into one yoga center near us and no one there had heard of any of the ‘other’ yoga teachings, they just knew and taught hatha yoga as an exercise class. This is not unusual, but hatha is only one aspect of a rich and expansive system and these teachings are there for a reason: to develop conscious awareness.


In particular, we see yoga teachers wanting to be the most well known–my yoga, my meditation, my practice is the best. And even though the traditional methods are well proven over thousands of years, in an attempt to stand out from the crowd many create their own ‘brand’ of yoga, often loosing the essence of the original meaning. It’s gone so far that, as reported in the UK Daily Mail: “Babies left screaming in terror as they are swung around head of ‘baby yoga’ guru who claims it is good for them.”


Being in the role of a teacher is a position laden with responsibility. As notoriety grows we see how easily the ego can get involved and how deluding power can become. Some teachers use their role in order to make more money (a lot of it!), to have sex with students, or, as reported in a recent case, to use students to receive drugs. Gone are the teachings of yama and niyama, instructions on how to live an ethical and caring life through practicing harmlessness (ahimsa), being truthful, not being greedy, or indulging in addictions, as well as the importance of self-reflection so that we become aware of our own habits and mental tendencies.


Anyone can be a teacher as long as we chose that person to guide us. Which doesn’t mean that person has practiced all of the teachings, or is living a yogic life. Those that have tasted the beauty of yoga and embodied the depth, breadth, and full intent of its different forms could not harm, use or abuse another. They will have realized the beauty within themselves and be able to bring that out in their students. There is really no true yoga without love. A teacher with a loving heart is like a precious jewel.




See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Seane Corn, Richard Freeman, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie, Jane Fonda, Marianne Williamson, and many others.


Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.


Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com


Please Share:







About Ed and Deb Shapiro

Ed and Deb Shapiro's new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by The Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman contributors include, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Ellen Burstyn, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Jane Fonda, Dean Ornish, Byron Katie, Ed Begley, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Genpo Roshi, Seane Corn, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Kathlyn and Gay Hnedricks, Krishna Das, Russell Bishop, Gangaji, The Karmapa and others, will be published November 3rd, 2009 by Sterling Ethos. Ed and Deb are the bestselling authors of 15 books on meditation, personal development and social action. They are featured contributors on the HuffingtonPost.com, teach workshops worldwide, and work as corporate consultants. They are the writers of the Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. Their books include: YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Awared and finalist for the Nautilus Book Award. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com

View all posts by Ed and Deb Shapiro →



Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.



Related Posts:

This is how to build a movement: Peacelearning at the National Peace Academy

Why Eating Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat (infographic)

Of Odes and Ohms

Decoding Deepak: The Journey

Proper Nutrition to Keep Your Workout Rocking

Awareness, Consciousness, Gratitude, Healing, Mindfulness, Yoga


← This is how to build a movement: Peacelearning at the National Peace Academy

Follow the discussion


Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout


Logged in as danellehollenbeck

There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one!

Post a new comment


Posting as danellehollenbeck (Logout)


Submit Comment

Subscribe to




Posted by [email protected] on March 1, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Hinduism Sacred Narratives

Unlike other religious traditions, Hinduism has no single, unifying sacred narrative. Rather, there is a vast array of narratives—theological, ethical, ritual, mythical, social—that different Hindus in different contexts hold sacred.

Hinduism Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

A major question to ask about Hinduism is whether it is a polytheistic or a monotheistic religion. The short answer is "yes"—it is both.

Hinduism Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

Hinduism is in many ways a profoundly structured religion that presents what sometimes appears to be a highly rigid understanding of human existence. Within that structure, however, human beings are always free.

Hinduism Suffering and the Problem of Evil

Evil in Hinduism is most often understood to be the result of human actions, of free will. Sometimes, however, evil is understood to be a result of the mysterious "play" of the gods.

Hinduism Afterlife and Salvation

One of the fundamental principles of Hinduism is the concept of samsara, rebirth. Humans are reborn over and over and over again. They can, however, "escape" rebirth by ridding themselves of karma and attaining moksha.