Medindia

X

Rift Between Indian Purists and Western 'Free-form' at Yoga Festival

by Sheela Philomena on  March 10, 2011 at 2:19 PM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
"Power flow yoga" performance by Shiva Rea, a Californian in low-cut white trousers shocked the traditionalists. By the time Shiva Rea, famed for inventing the high-energy Yoga Trance Dance, had completed her demonstration at a yoga festival in northern India, some 20 people had left the room.
 Rift Between Indian Purists and Western 'Free-form' at Yoga Festival
Rift Between Indian Purists and Western 'Free-form' at Yoga Festival
Advertisement

"This is not yoga, it's just a show, but to succeed in California, this is what they have to do," griped Austrian yoga teacher Florian Palzinsky, 42, as he watched the Santa Monican.

Advertisement
For thousands of years, yoga has been expressed through gradual control of the body, breath and mind.

But criticism of Rea's spirited show at the week-long International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh underscored the growing and sometimes acrimonious split between purists and practitioners of new, innovative forms of the art.

Rishikesh, nestled in the Himalayan foothills, shot to world prominence when the Beatles visited in 1968 to learn about transcendental meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, helping to popularise ideas about Indian spirituality.

Now hundreds of visitors, most of them foreigners, come each year to the festival from dozens of countries, bringing their yoga mats to learn about breathing, posture, chanting and nutrition from experts in all types of yoga.

The classes start at 4:00 am and go on until sunset.

"Yoga doesn't flow in our veins like it does in Indians so I came here to go back to basics," said French yoga teacher Juliette Allard, 38, who has been coming to the festival for the past three years.

German nutritionist Daniela Wolff, 50, said that she felt happiest with the festival's tradition-minded Indian teachers, such as the spry 103-year-old Indian guru Swami Yogananda who gave his course every morning at 6:00 am sharp.

"They are genuine, do not use fancy words, there is no music. Most importantly, they don't need to prove anything to anyone," Wolff said.

For Japanese yoga teacher Hikaru Hashimoto, the Americans "are very gifted at making yoga evolve -- at changing and inventing new styles that will spread throughout the world".

"But India is the first country of yoga. The basis of yoga is here," he insisted.

Nevertheless, the more unconventional practitioners succeeded in drawing the spotlight at the festival, such as white-robed American Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa -- born May Mary Gibson but now a devout Sikh.

Khalsa has given private lessons to stars such as Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Courtney Love, teaching Kundalini Yoga -- a meditative form of stretching -- and urging people to find the sunshine "in your hearts".

What really matters is that people "want to feel better, be closer to ourselves", she said. "That's what yoga is."

But Khalsa scandalised some festival-goers when her group held hands and chanted the word "Hallelujah" for 10 minutes, waving their bodies.

Tears poured down some faces of the group and others looked ecstatic after the session, but their emotional response did not impress critics.

"I've practised yoga for 20 years. To me, it's superficial, there's no depth -- it's like playing sports," said Indian yoga teacher Kamal Deep Ohlan, 35.

"Today, yoga has become a business when it should be a discovery of one's inner self, a philosophy."

Source: AFP
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions
What Rubbish , people with closed minds who cannot see it is and was always an experiment what happens in my body-mind when I do this when I breathe like this and assume this posture. Groups of what would have been "spiritual outsiders" outsiders , narts , Agoris , the would be ancestors of Yoga in their huts or in places away from other humans doing strange weird and wonderful things and then from this was culled what is commonly held today as Yoga. safe practice, conventional practice, practicing a form of Yoga , with accredited teachers and so on, that is Ok for beginners and people who enjoy staying o this superficial level , but braver souls abandon convention and allow asanas to emerge as they will. God Bless innovators
RichardPrice Friday, April 22, 2011

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All