Mudras at the Delhi airport.
Having been a practitioner for a long time, I’ve had my share of strange questions about yoga. Most of these are about sex. Everything ranging from yoga leading to impotence to yoga leading you to become a sex maniac. However, over the years Yoga has spread far and wide and a lot of misconceptions have been dealt with. Which is why yesterday I was caught by surprise.
I was hanging out at the library in the Bangalore Club waiting for the time for my massage appointment to arrive, and on the front page of the International Herald Tribune I read : Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here. I flipped to page 12 and then read the most unbelievable article about the orgins of Yoga. Yes, Yoga and Sex do have a relationship, but that is limited to the effects of Yoga on your overall wellbeing, which in turn enhances your sexual health. However, according to this article, Hatha Yoga began as a branch of Tantra which in turn is steeped rites and rituals which include sex, having sex and everything else related to sex.
The ‘goal’ of Yoga (all kinds of Yoga) is NOT to increase your sexual appetite. Much the opposite, in fact. Yoga asanas were ‘discovered’ by sages in ancient India who had to sit for hours in meditation. Their bodies had to be supple and strong to be able to tolerate that kind of intense treatment. By doing asanas and pranayam, the sages were able to keep their bodies free from all diseases, and thereby free to meditate. And THAT was the real purpose of yogasanas, and it had nothing to do with increasing sexual energy. Quite the contrary, a lot of sages wanted to eliminate/decrease their sexual energy becuase it was a distraction from their sadhana.
William J Broad (the author of this article) went on to talk about B K S Iyengar played down the eorticism of yoga in ‘Light on Yoga’. And also that modern day practitioners have to be content with this ‘whitewashed’ version of Yoga. I call this pure hogwash.
Yoga has been practiced for millions of years by regular people who have experienced numerous benefits. From thyroid problems, to hypertension, to depression to obesity, studies have shown Yoga to have cured a lot of people of a lot of ailments. In fact, people experience better sex as a result of yoga but this is not because it gives you more sexual energy.
I think it is wrong to blame Yoga for an individual’s philandering ways. Yoga gurus who cheat let their fans down much as movie stars who cheat do. In fact, I would say that a person who has no self control is not a real yogi, regardless of how advanced their asana practice is. And that is a bigger tragedy than someone’s philandering lifestyle.