The difficult position of 'yoga fiction'


While it’s often perceived as a timeless Indian practice, the yoga now found everywhere from Himalayan ashrams to Manhattan studios was invented in dialogue with the West. In recent decades, this dialogue has taken new shape, with the appearance of a ‘yoga fiction’ genre in English bookstores. As yoga memoirs, yoga chick lit, yoga comedies and yoga murder mysteries (Dial Om For Murder, anyone?) flood the literary marketplace, they change the way we think about one of India’s most popular cultural exports. These ‘yoga fictions’ paradoxically make India both more and less visible in a globalising world.

Dr Shameem Black
I live in Suva, Fiji. I've been practicing yoga since 1977, taught by a very good yoga teacher in Madras (Chennai). I was taught a one hour session with a series of warm up asanas culminating in the headstand with a series of cool down asanas accompanied by breathing. I was 23 years old. I am now 60 years, still practicing the same yoga asanas for one hour every morning and in very good health. The instruction was very traditional, the guru (teacher) and the student (myself) with a lot of respect shown both ways. My teacher would not accept payment for his services and I respected him for that. As I grew older, I realized that I was not just being taught yoga, but I was also shown the possibility of a new way of life, a profound way of seeing things, of stopping the world and of living a deeply spiritual and healthy lifestyle.
Nemani Mati 5 years 3 days ago
I am an NCDS 1996 Masters degree graduate in Development Administration. As a yoga practitioner since 1977, I've come to realize that yoga is not an exercise like running or swimming, both of which are purely physical activities, at least in the beginning. The movement of any part of the body in any yoga exercise is accompanied by breathing. Apart from its healthy benefits, breathing keeps the mind focused on the movement of the body parts. So the mind is not wandering all over the place. That's what makes yoga different from running and swimming. I started running on the road in January 1979 and swimming in 50-metre pool in November 1991. After a while, I discovered that I could transfer the yoga breathing exercises to both running and swimming. As a result, the purely physical aspects of running and swimming were transformed into a completely different dimension, where mind and body were able to focus at the same time on the act of running, thus transforming the purely running and swimming exercises into a yoga of running and swimming. Thus extending this activity and exploration, the act of taking the garbage out or mowing the lawn and watering the garden is transformed from the mundane into the sublime.
Nemani Mati 5 years 19 hours ago
Many years ago Gita Mehta wrote a wonderful book called "Karma Cola" or the marketing of the mystical East. Wonder if this would apply to yoga as well (no disrespect meant to genuine practitioners).
Indrani Ganguly 4 years 12 months ago

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