Yoga for Fat Ladies, Not Devotees


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 31, Spring 2011

In the last issue of BTP, in the article “ISKCON’s New Mission”, we illustrated the proliferation of gymnastic (hatha) yoga displays throughout ISKCON, with a photograph of gymnastic contortions being perfomed onstage at the Budapest Rathayatra festival - a festival that is supposed to be dedicated to Lord Jagannatha. ISKCON has admitted that such displays are now commonplace in ISKCON:

“Perhaps the most interesting new trend for ISKCON devotees to note, however, is the recent proliferation of devotee yoga teachers. ISKCON devotees, of course, follow an ancient spiritual path also brought to the West in the 1960s by Srila Prabhupada, who taught Bhakti—the yoga of devotion—and did not place any emphasis on physical yoga exercises.”
(ISKCON News, 15.1.2011)

Below we see more examples of this proliferation of standalone hatha-yoga courses being conducted in ISKCON temples, as well as statements from Srila Prabhupada on the same. It is clear from these statements that he indeed “did not place any emphasis on physical yoga exercises” - but rather condemned them. And yet ISKCON is happy to do the complete opposite and promote such yoga exercises as part of its ‘spiritual program’ (for a fee, of course) throughout the world!


“Mayapur Yoga Retreats, held at Sri Mayapur Dhama, allow you to discover the yoga tradition and to explore it at deeper levels, be it about asanas, pranayama, meditation, philosophy, daily lifestyle for health […] Yoga postures (daily) – Holistic improvement of your overall health from toe to head, including mind.”
(‘Yoga Retreats in Spiritual India’, ISKCON World Headquarters, Mayapur, 2010-11)


“ISKCON will be one of the many organizations participating in Yogathon, a one-day campaign that will see community and worship centers across the U.S. offering free one or two-hour introductory yoga classes [...] The event, which is intended to promote healthy and natural living, will be part of President Obama’s United We Serve initiative [...] ISKCON Centers participating in the Yogathon include The Bhakti Center in New York City; New Talavan, Mississippi; New Orleans; Potomac, Maryland; and Prabhupada Village, North Carolina. Devotees running yoga studios in Los Angeles and Lawrence, Kansas will also participate. The event is a good fit for North American ISKCON temples, since many already offer regular yoga classes.”
(ISKCON News, 20/8/2010)


“Current programs: Sunday Program, harinama every Saturday evening, morning program, book distribution, hatha yoga classes 2-3 times a week, devotional movies and slide shows.”
(ISKCON Athens, Greece)


“Get ready to roll down your yoga mats because it’s never too late to take up yoga whether you’re 50 or 75! Few people retain their flexibility and vitality in later years. Yoga helps by removing tension from the mind and body, improving the quality of muscle tone, maintaining full range of movement and correcting poor posture. By harnessing the vital energy of the breath, the mind and body can be recharged. [...] Get the most out of your golden years now that you finally have time to do something for yourself and your own physical and mental development. Many complaints associated with aging such as sleeplessness, lack of drive and initiative, insufficient circulatory and digestive trouble can be corrected. Remember, you are only as old as you feel! [...] Course Fee: £40 (6 sessions)”
(ISKCON UK headquarters, Bhaktivedanta Manor)

Simply bluffed

Devotee: “Can hatha-yoga hinder or help Krishna consciousness, or is it...?”
Prabhupada: “Hinder. Yes. Because it is useless, simply wasting time. You cannot perform hatha-yoga in this age. You do not follow the rules and regulations. You are simply bluffed. Do you know what is the rules and regulations of hatha-yoga factually?”
Devotee: “Not actually.”
Prabhupada: “Yes. You have to select a secluded place. Hatha-yoga is not practiced in assembly of so many men. Just you go to a hatha-yoga class. There are hundreds of members practicing, and he is collecting money, five dollars per seat. And you are thinking, “I am practicing.” That is useless waste of time and money. Hatha-yoga is not practiced in that way.”
(Room Conversation, 10/5/1969)

Bodily attachment

“The hatha-yoga system is basically meant for those who are overly attached to the body; otherwise, the preferred yoga is sankhya-yoga or bhakti-yoga.”
(Teachings of Lord Kapila, Chapter 14, Text 31, purport)

Meant for rascals

“Otherwise, if they keep themself in ignorance, ajnah, dehy ajnah, then ajita-sad-varga: he will never be able to control the senses. The yoga system, hatha-yoga system, is meant for this class of rascals, ajita.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 5/8/1975)

Appeals to fat ladies

“The supreme ancient system of yoga pertains to the soul. Presently, in America especially, hatha-yoga is very popular. It appeals to fat ladies who go to the classes to reduce and keep their digestive systems regular. Many people are interested in this kind of gymnastic yoga, but real yoga is adhyatmika. Adhyatmika means to awaken the soul to his proper position. The soul is purusa, spirit, and his business is to reconnect his lost relationship with Krsna.”
(Teachings of Lord Kapila, Chapter 8, Text 14, purport)

Not for devotees

“A person who is in Krishna consciousness, he does not require to perform dhyana-yoga or hatha-yoga or karma-yoga or jnana-yoga.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10/1/1967)

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