It’s yogas not yoga

Mark Singleton and Jean Byrne are authors of the book Yoga Body: The origins of Modern Practice who discuss the translation of yoga. Here is a quote on their perspective on the exchange of yoga between the West and India-

“The fault most commonly found with contemporary yoga, by both scholars and “informed” practitioners, is that it is inauthentic with regard to the Indian traditions it claims to transmit. In this view, many of yoga’s manifestations in the (post-) modern, transnational world are simply phony, in so far as they speciously claim affiliation with a more or less ill-defined “tradition” of yoga, while simultaneously masking their modern accretions and innovations.”

They discuss how there is hybridity formed by people who practice it. New types of yoga are being formed that go away from the traditional Indian practice, including Yogalates, Yogaerobics, and Hot Naked Yoga. It’s turning more into an exercise, which does have benefits, but is taking away from yoga’s theory and practice. Yoga has changed immensely and most significantly it has lost recognition. Mark Singleton acknowledges how significantly it has changed and says, “Practices are taken from earlier traditions, added to, edited, spun and re-cast, until they become something completely other.” Many only recognize it as a way to stretch and as posture practice.

It is important for people to understand what type of yoga they practice, it’s origins and what it’s intentions are in order to gain the greatest benefits from it. After reading this article on conversations with Mark Singleton I learned that, “early founders of ‘traditional’ yoga… [are] ideas they [teachers from India to the West who were deeply influenced by Western ideas and belief frameworks] put forward, and the practice they teach, are mixtures of traditional and markedly modern notions.” Mark says because of there being so many different types of yoga and mixtures one should speak of it as “yogas” rather than “yoga”. I find this very interesting and it does make sense because “there is no single body of practices called ‘yoga’”. This article made me a bit upset because it made it seem like practices that I have done that were very important for me not seem as real since they are a mixture of different yogas. I don’t know why but it made me feel like I have been part of something mimicking real yoga, when I thought I was doing something legitimate. It made me think that there are things hidden behind yoga practices when I like to think everything in that practice is present and that I am in control of my practice.


Maier-Moul, Susan. “Mark Singleton, Part Two.” I The Magazine of Yoga. The Magazine of Yoga, LLC., 2011. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. <>.


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