The Great “Yog-a” Debate…

The word Sanskrit in Devanagari script

"Sanskrit" in Sanskrit

The great thing about the global village is that we really can be at peace (or war) with people across the pond.

I have been at war with my uncle, Viswanathan Srinivasan of the greater DC area, while living abroad in Bangalore. We have been debating at length via email and phone calls, about yoga.

Or, in his words, yog.

You see, my uncle has a background in Sanskrit, the language that much of yoga was originally documented in. So I usually defer to him (although he might beg to differ) on matters of Sanskrit.

But when he told me to stop calling it yoga, I had to push back.

My uncle’s argument is that the original sanskrit root is “yuj”, literally, to yoke. Yoga means to harness that which is of use, and that’s what yoga practice is about. Yoga–and I’m purposely using “yoga” and not “yog” as my uncle wants to convince me to–is about harnessing our flexibility in our bodies and minds so that we are so free of rigidity that we can go anywhere.

I argue that since yoga is flexible and free of form, it can be called anything, and yoga doesn’t hurt one bit. Especially when so many people around the world are starting to recognize yoga as a form of spirituality, sport, and therapy.

We’ve been at it for a few months. I keep telling my uncle that everyone even in India, even the masters, call it Yoga.

Is Yog flexible enough to move into the 21st century and become Yoga? Or is it more sanctimonious to keep it yog? Would people recognize yog?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kp
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 10:03:56

    All things considered I am still a novice at the practice of Yoga but I agree with you that for me Yoga/Yog is flexible and free of form, one of the many reasons I fell in love with the practice. So since it comes from the root word yuj, I’ll keep the meaning and “yoke” Yog/Yoga together. Great Post


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