The science of yoga is in a sorry state. Yes, yoga was invented as a science, to observe the body and provide for its optimal functioning. All of the stretches, breathing exercises, and meditations were created to oil the cogs of our extraordinarily complex body and mind. I constantly see opinion and guess taken as fact and conclusion. Partial truths and rumors spread like wildfire in the community.
I think a lot of the blame of sorry state of today’s science is due to corporate influence and consumerism. People are willing to do anything to make a few bucks, especially in the United States. This means misleading people and using gurus as idols to be worshipped. I honestly had a lot of hesitation about coming into the industry because it is so fueled by emotions, sexuality, and bullshit (excuse my language, but it’s really the best word to describe many of the ideas floating around yoga nowadays).
Here are a few examples: John Friend was involved in substance abuse and sexual misconduct towards women, Bikram claims to be a god and is a multi-billionaire who holds yoga “competitions”, even K Patthabi Jois was accused of sexual harassment towards the women he taught. It seems like large amounts of teachers are involved in sex scandals one way or another or proceed to be worshipped as gods amongst their following. Apparently, Jois often injured students with his adjustments. Knowledge and true wisdom seem to be scarce in a practice that was the epitome of science in ancient times; sexual misconduct and falsities are everywhere.
Of course not every teacher is this way, and for every amoral teacher, there is one giving their to helping the people they serve. But I think there is a lot of work to do. Honor, discipline, self-control, and continence are rarely talked about in yoga, yet they are of the utmost importance to any yogi. These are qualities that lead to true detachment and moksha, or liberation from the sufferings of the world. Discipline, in particular, is completely lacking; everyone wants to “do what feels good” and no attention is payed to having a moral code of ethics.
I am thinking about going back to school for a medical, neurological, anatomical, or nutritional degree, but I’m not even sure that a school would be able to help me with what I want to learn. Observation is what used to fuel science, but now it is more about computational modeling and getting money for grants. The most important data collection occurs outside of computers and pre-defined models. This combined with the corruption in the yoga community has led to a wealth of crap being spread as fact. I want to help put yoga back into a state of revered science, but consumerism and greed are powerful obstacles to overcome. I guess we shall have to wait and see how the future unfolds…