Yoga and Cultural Appropriation


This is a big topic right now and there's a lot to discuss. It came up particularly recently when some students at a university questioned whether the campus yoga class was appropriative. I think it was a very good thing to wonder and to bring up. I'm proud of them for asking the question. I have been very lucky to be approached with a guest post from Pierce Salguero, who studies issues like this from a Historian's perspective. The post originally appeared on Bio: I am … [Read more...]

Can Westerners Gain Enlightenment?


I know I'm always saying that in any given country or population, probably 95% of people aren't going to be strongly spiritual. I'm guessing at that number, but it seems that in the Kali Yuga very few feel the pull to chase down the mystery of what life means.So that means that in every religion and non-religion (in other words, atheists included) there are some who ask themselves the big questions about what our lives mean and others who aren't bothered by those questions. I don't think … [Read more...]

Non-Desi Hindu: What I Look Like to Others

Our friend Andrea noticed an interesting thread on Reddit a while back and pointed it out to me. It's a group for American born Desis (people of south Asian heritage) and they are discussing how they feel about non-Desi Hindus (or other Indian religions).'ve said before, I feel like my experience most closely mirrors the experiences of American born Desis. I relate to them. I think they and I are working … [Read more...]

What Is Yoga?


In the west we hear the word "Yoga" and it brings one thing to mind...The word actually encompasses a lot more than this! Hatha Yoga is a popular form of exercise using poses (asanas). Practitioners often believe that it is a way to use physical movement for greater spiritual balance. Classes usually include periods of stillness and meditation as well as movement. As it becomes more and more popular for exercise and flexibility, some classes divorce yoga entirely from its spiritual … [Read more...]

Meet a Guru: RamDev

Ram Dev (also called Baba RamDev ) is credited with popularizing yoga in India. His yoga institutions have also had an influence in Britain and the U.S. He has been making a name for himself in ayurveda medicine and political statements as well.BackgroundIn 2003, he started being featured on TV for a morning yoga slot, which quickly grew into a yoga revival movement. It is said that previous to going on TV, he studied scripture and practiced yogic disciplines alone in the Himalayan … [Read more...]

Meet a Guru: Paramahansa Yogananda


Yogananda has been the gateway into Hinduism (or at least Hindu philosophy) for many westerners.  It was in 1920 that he came to America to speak at a religious council and founded his Self-Realization Fellowship. People continue to find his teachings through his book Autobiography of a Yogi.BackgroundHe was born in 1893 in India (Uttar Pradesh, to be specific). He graduated from college and then became a disciple in a monastic Swami order. At 27 he went to America, where he spent most … [Read more...]

True Story of a False Guru

The American Buddhist blog has a very interesting article that really fits the theme of yesterday's post about being careful about what guru you follow.He speaks about a documentary movie where a disillusioned Hindu man sets out to prove that gurus can be anyone, whether qualified or not. It apparently examines the current landscape of American spirituality, particularly in the "yoga movement."I'm very interested to see this movie! Thus builds the climax of the film: Kumare’s “ … [Read more...]

Is a Guru Necessary?


This is a subject that came up on my Facebook page recently. Do we need to have a teacher to guide our spiritual progress in Hinduism?I can definitely see how a guru or teacher would be very valuable for many people, at least for part of the journey, but I also think there are other ways to go about it.  One of the things I like about Hinduism is that you do not need an intermediary between yourself and God. Because the divine is within you, you are always capable of accessing it … [Read more...]