- The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning
to yoke or join together. It most often refers to the yoking of a conscious
subject (jiva-atman) with a Supreme Spirit (parama ta man)
in order to reach an ecstatic condition (Samadhi, a “placing
or putting together”). It is derived from the Proto-Indo-European base
*yeug-, meaning “to join” as in jugular.n
- A 2008 market study in Yoga Journal reports that some 16 million
Americans practice yoga and spend $5.7 billion a year on gear.l
- “Doga” is a type of yoga in which people use yoga to achieve harmony
with their pets. Dogs can either be used as props for their owners or they
can do the stretches themselves. It reportedly started in New York in 2002
when Suzi Teitelman started “Yoga for Dogs.”l
- The swastika is a yoga symbol that comes from the Sanskrit term Svastik,
meaning “that which is associated with well-being.”c
- The yoga symbol “Om” is found in Hindu and Tibetan philosophy.
It is said to be the primordial sound of the universe and is connected to the
Ajna Chakra (the conscience) or “third eye” region.d
- Hatha yoga is the type of yoga most frequently practiced in Western culture. Ha means “sun” and tha means “moon,” representing
hatha yoga’s attempt to combine both complementary forces.j
- Aaron Star teaches “Hot Nude Yoga” in a Chelsea studio. The classes
are men-only, and there are only two rules: “no kissing and no touching
Yoga can improve sexual performance
- A growing body of research shows that yoga can improve sex and may even prevent
and treat sex problems by increasing the overall health of the cardiovascular
- Yoga can improve orgasms. When a person has an orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles
that run between the legs rapidly contract. In yoga, the pelvic floor muscles
are known as moola bandha. Yoga strengthens them, providing benefits
similar to Kegel exercises.b
- Pierre Bernard (1875-1955), also known as the “Omnipotent Oom,” was
one of the first prolific American yogis. He founded the Tantrik Order, a secret
society which taught its initiates Hatha yoga, philosophy, and Sanskrit and
which also sanctioned sacramental sex.b
- An Indian study claims that yoga can help premature ejaculation (PE).b
- The United States Product Safety Commission listed 4,450 reported yoga injuries
in 2006, up from 3,760 in 2004.a
- Yoga has been called one of the first and most successful products of globalization.j
- Several scholars have noted that yoga had been packaged so well as a defense
against illness and aging that it is “easy to lose sight of its real
- The lotus pose is a sitting pose meant to resemble the perfect symmetry and
beauty of a lotus flower. Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, and
Shiva, a major god in Hinduism, are typically shown in this pose.j
- Amid controversy, the Hindu American Foundation launched its “Take Back
Yoga” campaign in late 2010 with the goal of making people more aware
of yoga’s debt to Hindu. However, some scholars argue that yoga actually
began in the Vedic culture of Indo-Europeans who settled in India around the
third millennium B.C., long before Hindu began.n
- Patanjali (150 B.C.) was an Indian sage who recorded a series aphorism on
how to practice yoga in the text Yoga Sutras. While Patanjali
is typically considered the father of yoga, yoga was around long before Patanjali,
who only made it more accessible.c
- Hindu leader Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) is considered a key figure in introducing
yoga into Western culture, and his address to the Parliament of Religions in
Chicago in 1893 is said to have initiated yoga’s evolution in the West.
The Beatles, especially George Harrison, also helped introduce yoga into the
West. Additionally, the Beatles were the first to bring the sitar into rock
and roll and the first to introduce Hindu melodies into modern music.l
- Scholars believe that yoga incorporated elements of Stone Age shamanism, which
dates back to at least 25,000 B.C. Yoga assimilated such elements as shamanic
poses, transcendence, asceticism, and illumination.d
- Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the first Westerners to study yoga
in depth. His comments on developing higher consciousness in the East helped
introduce the West to yoga concepts and practices.m
- Yoga is defined as having eight branches or limbs. (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama,
Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). The third limb, “Asana,” refers
to postures and poses that most people think of when they hear the word “yoga.”j
- Scholars believe that the Rig-Veda (“praise of knowledge”)
is one of the oldest known texts in the world. Containing elements of yoga,
its earliest hymns are believed to be over 4,000 years old.c
- A male practitioner of yoga is called a yogi, and a female practitioner
is called a yogini—a term which has also been applied to the
female sex partner in certain schools of Tantra as well as the 64 female deities
who manifested universal creative energy.d
- Yoga teachers debate whether women should avoid inverted poses during their
menstrual cycle. Some teachers say that inverted poses raise the risk of endometriosis
and vascular congestion, or that inversions disturb energetic flow. Others
say that yoga can alleviate menstrual cramps. Still others say the decision
is up to the individual woman.e
Yoga is considered to be more spiritual than religious
- Most scholars agree that even though yoga and Hinduism are closely related,
and that yoga is within religion, it is not itself a religion. Yoga is more
often considered a type of spirituality.l
- Frequent synonyms of yoga include yoga-vid (“knower of yoga”), yukta (“yoked
one”), yoga-raj (“king of yoga”), or yogendra (from yoga and indra), meaning “lord.”f
- Research has suggested that yoga improves social and occupational functioning
in schizophrenic patients.l
- When Tara Guber proposed that a public elementary school in Aspen, Colorado,
teach yoga in 2002, Christian fundamentalists and some secular parents argued
that yoga’s Hindu roots conflicted with Christian teachings or that teaching
it in schools violated the separation of church and state.l
- Exercise physiologist Fabio Comana argues that the extreme heat associated
with hot yoga (Bikram Yoga) is dangerous. He argues that temperatures over
105° will “start to damage protein.”a
- “Hot yoga,” or “Bikram yoga,” is under criticism from
the larger yoga community for allegedly plagiarizing traditional Hatha yoga
- Studies show that yoga reduces the risk of heart disease by improving arterial
flow. Similarly, studies show that yoga also helps treat diabetes, high blood
pressure, and asthma.j
- A York University study found that practicing yoga reduced physical and psychological
symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia.h
- In his “The Culture of Narcissism” (1979), Christopher Lasch lumps
yoga together with oral sex as symptoms of “America’s weakening
sense of self.”l
- Scholars note that just as the computer scientists who built ARPANET (the
early Internet) created the conditions for Google, so American transcendentalist
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) created the conditions for American yoga.l
- There are over 100 different schools of yoga, including Hatha yoga, Raja yoga
(“royal yoga”), Jnana yoga (“path of knowledge”), Bhakti
yoga, Karma yoga, (“discipline of action”), and Bikram yoga. While
each school of yoga has different practices, they have a unified goal: the
state of pure bliss and oneness with the universe.j
Democrats are more likely to tweet the word "yoga"
- Researchers at the Mitre Corporation found that Democrats were more likely
to tweet words such as “upscale,” “yoga,” “and “sushi,” while
Republicans were more likely to tweet “weapons,” “blackberry,” and “marine.”i
- In 2008, a council of muftis in Malaysia banned yoga for Muslims. The believed
that the Hindu elements of a standard 60-minute yoga class could “destroy
the faith of Muslims.”g
- The Guinness World Records currently lists 85-year-old Bette Calman from Australia
as the world’s oldest yoga teacher. However, 90-year-old yoga teacher
Gladys Morris from Royton, Oldham, is petitioning the Guinness World Records
to be recognized as the oldest.l
- Lena Fokina from Russia caused controversy when a video of her surfaced on
YouTube showing her swinging, tossing, and spinning a two-week-old baby in
what she calls “baby yoga.”f
-- Posted September 19, 2011
a Alvarez, Lizette. “Stretch:
When Yoga Hurts.” The
New York Times. July 24, 2010. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
b Castleman, Michael. “Want
Better Sex? Do Yoga.” Psychology
Today. July 1, 2010. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
c DeMichelis, Elizabeth. 2005. A History of Yoga: Patanjali
and Western Esotericism. London, England: Continuum International Publication
d Feuerstein, Georg. 1997. The Shambhala Guide to Yoga.
Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
and Menstruation.” Yoga Journal.
2011. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
f Katz, Neil. “Baby
Yoga Video Us Real and Real Scary, But Safe?” CBSNEWS. January 20, 2011. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
Islamic Body Bans Yoga for Muslims.” MSNBC.
November 11, 2008. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
h Minhas, Pratibha. “Yogic
Exercises Lessen Symptoms of Pain from Fibromyalgia.” News Tonight. July 29, 2011. Accessed:
July 30, 2011.
i Rock, Margaret. “Girls
Like Yoga and Yogurt, Boys Like Girls with Anything.” Mobiledia. July 28, 2011. Accessed: July 15,
j Simpkins, C. Alexander and Annellen Simpkins. 2003. Yoga
Basics. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing.
k Sohm, Amy. “Class Action.” New York Magazine.
March 8, 2004. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
l Syman, Stefanie. 2010. The Subtle Body: The Story of
Yoga in America. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
m Vitello, Paul. “Hindu
Group Stirs a Debate over Yoga’s
Soul.” The New York Times. November 27, 2010. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
n “Yoga.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed:
July 15, 2011.