Do I have your attention? Good.
Most people have a squeaky-clean idea of yoga, but apparently it has more risque origins:
The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of Anusara, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.” …
But this is hardly the first time that yoga’s enlightened facade has been cracked by sexual scandal. Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?
One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.
Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness.
The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex.
It goes on, but I’ll stop with the quotes at this point. Suffice to say that, if you read the entire article, you may just want to take a yoga class.
But the author fails to mention a very odd fact about yoga and sex that I read at least forty years ago, when I first perused Arthur Koestler’s book The Lotus and the Robot. In it, he describes an arcane traditional yoga practice performed by those who’ve reached the highest levels of the discipline (children, please leave the room now). I don’t know whether yoga still includes this rather unusual stunt (or whether it ever really did; perhaps it’s an apocryphal story). But it certainly made on impression on me when I first learned of it.
Let’s see; how can I put this delicately? Traditional Indian culture apparently featured a notion that the loss of seminal fluid would lead to a loss of strength in the man. So yoga practitioners supposedly developed a way to skillfully reverse this process at will, a kind of reclamation/recycling program that was way ahead of its time. Or any other time.
No, I’m not making this up, although perhaps Koestler was. Neither is it April Fools Day. But will you ever think of yoga in quite the same way again?