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JOE DOLEZAL: The Pyramid Center-Selling Modern Yoga as Spirituality

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It seems to be a trend permeating the world but mostly in the West, where Yoga has become a grossly misunderstood science, and a term regularly abused. Perhaps with the exception of certain monks and eastern scholars, when the idea of Yoga comes to mind, we are likely to envision someone with an athletic figure maneuvering similar to a gymnast with bodily contortions we have all become ambiguously familiar with. Most have heard and perhaps even participated in some “mindful attention” exercises – usually under the guise and pretense of Yoga. None of this constitutes a real crime in of itself, and has even arguably a variety of physical as well as psychological benefits. Though it maybe true such calisthenics and mental efforts resemble minor elements of Yoga proper, their similarity in theory and purpose starkly end beyond this. Nonetheless, these are likely the unfortunate ideas many have when Yoga comes to mind.

Within the United States there are many “yogic systems” claiming to have their roots in traditional Yoga. But after considering the original prescription of Yoga proper, we not only see why such claims are deceitful, but in fact can be harmful. The most popular among such systems are Hatha, Vinyasa, and Bikram; where the main difference seems to be the methodology implemented when it comes to their specific postures and conjunctive breathing. None however, actually include the essential totality of Yoga proper, nor mention anything about liberation of the spirit; which is the sole intention and aim of Yoga proper. This trend is surprisingly ramped within India itself, as many so called gurus and self-proclaimed yoga instructors are regularly steeped in scandal, further perverting an already misunderstood art and science.

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