where is yoga going? seane corn, rodney yee & gary kraftsow discuss on forbes.com

This appears to be the current state of yoga in the West. It can only get better, right? (image via yogajournal.com)

“Where is yoga headed these days?” asks Forbes.com blogger, Alice G. Walton. She checked in with Seane Corn, Gary Kraftsow, Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman at last month’s Being Yoga conference at the Omega Institute.

“That yoga has lost some of its oomph as it becomes more a business and less a practice is no secret,” writes Alice. “But whether this change is a good or bad thing is up for debate.” It’s a large and wide-ranging debate, and these teachers present merely three insights into the .

Seane Corn is apparently unfazed by the shift. “Sometimes the spiritual message is diluted,” she says, “but this can draw people to the practice in the first place. It’s offered in churches and synagogues and schools. That’s incredible.”

Then there’s Rodney Yee, who is slightly less forgiving. “He says that he and his wife and fellow teacher Colleen Saidman are routinely amazed at the fact that ‘people are continually trading the more valuable things for the more superficial things. That’s astonishing.'”

Finally, Gary Kraftsow takes a more hardline, yet hopeful, approach. “In the West,” says Kraftsow, “there are streams where this authentic transmission from living masters to students still exists. But there’s a lot of yoga that’s made up, modern stuff, with no understanding of depth and meaning of text.”

On contemplating the future of the practice in the West, Rodney Yee thinks that quality teacher training programs and standardization are the key to ensuring a healthy future. Seane Corn, on the other hand, isn’t worried, observing that yoga has been “a significant trend in last 17 years. It hasn’t become a one that’s become a mockery, like some other forms of exercise. This is a practice that’s going to stay.”

But Gary Kraftsow offered a vision that I personally find inspiring and exhilarating, even if there continues to be a division between the old and the new. He sees the potential of the philosophical aspects of the practice, socially and politically. He says, “Yoga offers a nonsectarian spirituality that can be powerfully useful in cross-culture communication. This hasn’t quite come to fruition. It’s still waiting to happen. But it will.” I love the idea of this, although I can’t quite imagine how it will look.

Where do you think yoga is going? Which of the three perspectives do you agree with? And what are some other POVs to consider?

Forbes.com: Where is Yoga Headed These Days? The Experts Discuss its Evolution, and Future

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  1. Thanks for the great summary, Roseanne. I’m with Seane Corn.

    I thing it’s all good, and that, given exposure to everything, people will choose what’s right for them.

    At the same time as Yoga on-the-go apps. are thriving, Georg and Brenda Feuerstein are getting more and more students for their heavy-duty Yoga Philosophy distance learning courses, Matt Remski and Scott Petrie are big hits on Elephant Journal, you’re interviewing Michael Stone on your very popular blog, there are Nuevo Traditional Yoga events like Toronto, we can run a popular Bhagavad Gita discussion series on the Internet, Phil Goldberg (American Veda) is explaining to us just how deeply the ancient Yoga texts have permeated modern American spirituality, etc., etc.

    I see nothing but richness and diversity and excitement in todays Yoga world, I love it all, and I think it all works together for the benefit of all. (Just call me Pollyanna. You wouldn’t be the first.)


  2. Thanks for this, Roseanne.

    I’m not too far from Bob’s point of view, but with one caveat. I have seen all too many folk come to ‘yoga’ (actually asana) for a workout and not having teachers with real depth, stay at that level for years. Thus, I do not believe that there is anything inherent in asana practice that necessarily draws people into the ‘deeper’ or more radical aspects of yoga. Yes, it is true for many, but I’d say there were way many other conditions at work.

    And my main ‘gripe’ with this situation is with the teachers who do not model, or otherwise introduce or expose their students to the wealth of the yoga traditions.

    frank jude