The Science of Yoga, Part II

(Read part I of this post.)

Broad concludes by saying that yoga is at a critical juncture in its development. While he recognizes the limits of science (as I pointed out earlier, not everything can be quantified), he feels that the way forward for the practice of yoga is to more closely align itself with science than with gurus. He advocates more rigorous training for instructors, so that yoga will become more mainstream, and thus more fully accepted as a form of medicine.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I agree that yoga is at a crossroads of sorts. It seems like there are new styles of yoga appearing daily. Gurus and leaders abound promising all sorts of transformations and miracles. Unfortunately, many lack integrity. More rigorous standards might help to curtail this sort of activity.

But on the other hand, if yoga aligns itself with medicine and science, something will be lost. Unfortunately, the probability is that, because science acknowledges only what is measurable, it may not be immediately clear what has been lost. Can we measure the value of beauty? Of hope and inspiration?

If we take the sacred out of yoga, we may be left with just the shell. A series of exercises. By sacred I don’t mean religion, but rather spirituality and self-awareness. The opportunity to tap into the fullness of our own experience, to know ourselves better, and to live our lives from a much deeper place. Yoga is a bridge to the immeasurable and unquantifiable inner world.

If we make yoga science, we lose all that. If we turn it into a series of physical therapy postures, if we disempower the practice by distilling it into a series of musculo-skeletal manipulations, we will have lost something precious indeed.