Yoga Bared

Beyond the downward dog:

Despite the modern innovations in meditation and exercise, “yoga” remains a flexible term that need not be bound up with notions of health and self-actualization. In truth, in ancient India, “yogis” were considered to be witch doctors that practiced dark arts to harness unnatural powers such as the ability to control other humans both living and dead, and to fly using human corpses as vehicles, as well as tele-vision, mind-melds, shape-shifting, immortality, extra-sensory perception, and indestructible adamantine bodies. If these sound like cool superpowers, know that yogis are considered evil. Even today, as [David Gordon] White points out, yogis form stock villains in Bollywood films and disobedient children are told “Be good or the yogi will come and take you away.”

Among White’s translations of Patanjali’s four-word definition of yoga (yoga-citta-vritti-nirodha):

Yoga is the icy silence of post-disintegration.

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