Doug Keller writes... (Re: NYTimes article on Sex and Yoga)

I wanted to point out some writings in regards to the recent article that came out in the NYTimes (found here).  Doug Keller is a teacher of mine and extremely well educated, practiced, and spoken.  He is also incredibly humble and I respect his work immensely.  He points out some major discrepancies with the NYTimes article below.  
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This is actually in response to an article written by Christopher Wallis in which you can find here.

Chris, your comments are good, and well worth reading – and I’m certainly recommending them to others (as well as your book). You do run the risk of tripping over the details, granting Mr. Broad a little too much.

The main point to me is that yoga is a vast tradition encompassing many concepts and practices, and Mr. Broad takes one aspect of a subset of that tradition and paints the whole tradi
tion with that characterization, wildly distorting the whole picture.

Part of this is an equation of ‘hatha yoga’ as we practice it today – which is really 'postural yoga’ in the way that Mark Singleton describes it – with the practices of some of the sects of the Natha Yogis, which concerned themselves with preserving and 'raising’ the bindu [a word for the essence of the sexual fluid]. In some but not even all cases, disciplines surrounding this included sexual rituals. You certainly do point out that the sexual practices took place among fringe groups even within this tradition.

But despite the distinctions to be made on historical details, the point is this: to say that this bit of detail is even remotely connected with hatha yoga as it is practiced TODAY (despite the sex books masquerading as 'tantra’ in the bookstores, which do not even claim a connection with hatha yoga) is utterly ridiculous. Mr Iyengar didn’t just 'sanitize’ that tradition – he and everyone else left it behind entirely; it was irrelevant to the project and goals of modern hatha yoga.

I prefer to describe the distortion and mischaracterization with a simple analogy that I mentioned earlier:

To say that yoga began as a sex cult is like saying that Christianity originated with sado-masochistic rituals of simulated drowning (i.e. baptism).

In other words, it is a statement that is so wrong in so many ways, despite containing a tiny grain of historical accuracy, that it is a fool’s errand to even try to disentangle fact from foolishness.

Your treatment of the specifics are, nevertheless, spot on and quite welcome to all of us!