While driving to work, I heard an interesting story on NPR about yoga. I think most people know that Yoga has Indian roots - as in it has been part of our culture/history/mythology/religion for at least the last 5000 years (if nothing else, the fact that yoga is initiated by the Hindu greeting 'Namaste' should send a clue). While embracing the intense yet physically peaceful aspects of this 'exercise', the West has chosen to stay away from the religious roots of this stressed-culture fad. When the Hindu American Foundation posed a question regarding the absence of the reference of Hinduism in the 'yoga-context' to a popular exercise magazine, they were given the shrugged response that the term Hinduism has a lot of 'baggage'. Interesting.
How belittling is it to reduce a philosophy that represents spirituality, truthfulness, peace, unity and harmony to merely a physical act of losing some calories. Sure, a good percentage of yoga 'regulars' know that it is much more than that. But deferring from crediting the deep roots of something so powerful to one of the world's oldest religions for the fear of some 'cultural' baggage is unfair and limiting. Sure, you don't need to be Hindu to benefit from yoga - but the acknowledgement that the Hindu religion is basis or shares basis with this effective technique speaks volumes about the beauty of this religion overall - currently not very apparent to a lot of Westerners.
On the world stage of controversial religions, Hinduism does not occupy any relevance. It is and has been a non-binding, self engaging, and karmic way of life that is often overlooked as a polytheistic mythological fantasy draped in the name of a 'religion'. But this simplistic view has been stereotyped and perpetuated by many sources by simply leaving things unsaid or unacknowledged. It is perhaps impossible for most people to realize that the direct relevance of the Bhagvad Gita, Vedas, and other old Hindu legacies to our daily lives even today exists in direct correlation, but a little 'hats-off' would be nice. Anyone who would simply dismiss yoga because it has Hindu roots shouldn't be doing any yoga anyways - hate is poison for the soul!
Ah, another one of those 'common sense' Hindu teachings.