"So, are you Anglican?" I asked.
"No," they replied. "We do Yoga!"
The quondam Mrs D was irked. "Yoga's not a religion!" she later fumed.
Well, no, it's actually a method of torture, but that's coming from me, with the shortest hamstrings in the Pecos.
And yet, the Hindu American Foundation would like to take yoga back.
Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.At first, I was thinking: fine, but this won't improve yoga. Doing asanas is fine as a form of exercise, but dragging in a bunch of religious muck won't make it any better.
But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.
Then I realised: Silly me! They don't want to improve yoga. They just want to piggyback on yoga's popularity. Which is all right, I suppose. Look at Christianity. They've been allowed to piggyback on
- personal milestones like birth, marriage, death, and puberty
- the human qualities of virtue, morality, goodness
On the other hand, I have no objection if people who practice Christian Yoga are tied up into a knot and rolled over by a thousand fitballs.