The Mutable Essence of Yoga

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The Mutable Essence of Yoga

Yoga’s Enduring Enigma

The nature of yoga has long been subject to debate. Religious historian Mircea Eliade observed that “Yoga is many things” due to its multifaceted nature. From the philosophical contemplations of Samkhya to the ritualistic practices of Tantra, yoga encompasses a diverse range of approaches.

Contested Ownership

India’s Claim

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared June 21 as “International Yoga Day,” a move that has been accompanied by a marketing campaign emphasizing yoga’s ancient origins.

Historical Reality

Despite claims of a 5,000-year-old history, archaeological evidence for yoga’s origins remains elusive.

Esoteric Origins

In traditional Indian society, yoga was often viewed as esoteric, with mainstream civilization showing little interest in its practices.

Political Influences

In the early 20th century, yoga began to gain traction in India as a form of resistance against British colonial rule. Indian nationalists combined traditional yoga postures with physical exercises like weightlifting and wrestling to create a fusion of forms that has influenced modern yoga.

American Influence

American marketing and promotion have played a significant role in yoga’s global popularity. Early yogis who traveled to the United States emphasized positive thinking and accessible spiritual practices, appealing to a wide audience.

Financial Considerations

The impetus behind India’s promotion of yoga is largely financial, with the aim of attracting tourism revenue.

Yoga’s Evolution

Yoga’s evolution has been marked by both genuine spiritual seekers and commercial opportunists. It is crucial to distinguish between authentic practices and those driven by profit motives.

Viveka: Discrimination in Yoga

Yoga philosophy emphasizes viveka, or the ability to discern between what is beneficial and what is harmful. This principle should guide practitioners in their exploration of yoga and its various manifestations.


Yoga’s multifaceted nature and historical evolution make it challenging to define definitively. It is a discipline that transcends religious and physical boundaries, offering a path to self-discovery and well-being for practitioners worldwide.

By John Doe

Credit and rights: OMG I Yoga


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