Most people perceive yoga as a neutral, non-judgemental entity. People come into yoga for the first time to discover the peace offered by the positive attitude of the practice: to accept ourselves as we really are. There should be no rejection. Anything is welcome. We are almost always told in our yoga classes by our sage-like instructors that it is fine to bend our knees in our uttanasana (standing forward fold pose), or to feel tightness inside the hips in our hanumanasana (full side split), or to lean on wall in our introductory sirsasana (headstand) in excuse of our feeble core muscles. In short, it is okay to be flawed in yoga. This is why suddenly the world is so forgiving and more affectionate to us after we practice yoga.
The idea that yoga teachings are not condemnatory to whatever ‘flaws’ or differences a human being develops could be true.
Nevertheless, the teachings are sometimes different from the practitioners. The people who practice yoga are not free from bias, criticism and ego. They have innate tendencies. They possess agendas, either hidden or overt. These yogis and yoginis are also equipped with various sets of prior past knowledge and experience which intertwine in many unthinkable ways. All this creates complexity
I did encounter spouses who have been doing yoga for years. They are like the nicest and kindest people on earth but when they are dealt with children books introducing LGBT themes, they turned into fierce, merciless monsters. They would simply refuse to forgive such deviance presented to young children in Indonesia, a country where this phenomenon is never accepted as part of the society. In reality, this sort of people seem to be around us. And it could be us.
Yet, I also found a number of yoga practitioners who voluntarily show their laissez-faire attitude towards the LGBT issue. They just leave things to take their own course, without any intention to interfere.
Some other yogis and yoginis show approval and endorsement of the phenomenon, arguing that this is natural and should never be fought against so hard as a plague, accordingly. Instead, they should be welcome as part of consequences of living in the diverse society.
But don’t be surprised to find out the fact that some yogis and yoginis might call LGBT a mental perversion, a disorder able to be cured. That might make hard for others who think that yoga and all the people practicing it to understand why people who preach love would view the controversies in such a punishing manner and tone.
Meet Baba Remdev, a renowned yoga guru with his widely viewed programs in the United Kingdom alone. The English news site telegraph.co.uk claimed the guru’s programs are watched by about 85 million people worldwide. He condoned religious teachings that condemn LGBT. Remdev even launched a massive public petition stating that “homosexuality is a curable disease and that sufferers could seek a cure”, reported the Telegraph. Further, he and the staunch followers opined the indecent sexual urges can be supressed by applying certain yoga asanas and breathing techniques (pranayama).
Another experienced yoga guru expresses different opinions. And to support his argument, he cited lines in the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is a poem composed between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD and incorporated into the Mahabharata. Presented as a dialogue between the Kshatriya prince Arjuna and his divine charioteer Krishna, it stresses the importance of doing one’s duty and of faith in God.
This yoga guru named Hari Kirtana wrote eloquently on jivamuktiyoga.com as he explained the reason why he claimed that the Gita supports same-sex marriage:
How is this so? According to the Gita, everyone has two natures: a temporary material nature and an eternal spiritual nature. To put it another way, we are eternal spiritual beings who have acquired temporary material identities. The practice of yoga builds a bridge from our temporary identity to our eternal identity. In order to cross that bridge we need to be peaceful. If we’re agitated by conflicts due to repression or oppression of our temporary nature then it will be difficult to be peaceful – to say nothing of happy – and we won’t be able to focus on the development of our spiritual life, on crossing the bridge to our eternal nature.
We can cross-reference several verses in the Gita that support this proposition. Let’s start with chapter 3, verse 33: “Even a wise person acts according to their own tendency, for everyone follows the proclivity they have acquired due to contact with the three qualities of material nature (goodness, passion, and ignorance). What will repression accomplish?”
The Sanskrit word jnana-van in this verse means “one who has acquired knowledge”. ‘Knowledge’ in the context of the Bhagavad Gita refers to the ability to distinguish between the spiritual self and the material body, the latter of which includes the mind and all of the psychology and behavioral tendencies associated with or initiating from the mind. So here Krishna is describing a person who is simultaneously acquainted with transcendental knowledge and yet is still affected by behavioral conditioning that arises due to contact with prakrti – material nature.
If our realization of our spiritual identity is incomplete, then we’ll find ourselves straddling the gap between our material and spiritual identities. Since this can be a precarious position, we need a firm foundation underfoot to stabilize us as we attempt to cross this gap. The Gita encourages us to find that stability by acting in harmony with our material identity while we work on the practical application of transcendental knowledge that can awaken us to a complete experience of our eternal, spiritual identity. In essence, we cross the bridge to transcendence while we build it with a steady yoga practice grounded in a spiritual understanding and compassionate acceptance of our current material identity. Throughout the Gita, Krishna encourages Arjuna to act according to his nature, both spiritually and materially. Since the Gita’s teachings are universal the same must apply for any eternal spiritual being who has acquired, for the time being, a gay material identity.
Thus, based on the Gita someone needs to let the material, psychological, behavioral and spiritual nature go hand in hand to enter the state of transcendency. And this cannot be achieved before s/he synchronizes all the elements in a complete harmony and unity.
Because yoga is also related to meditation and meditation has been greatly influenced by Buddhism, we cannot ignore Dalai Lama’s stance on the issue. As cited by elephantjournal.com, the famous Buddhism leader stated:” “If someone comes to me and asks whether homosexuality is okay or not, I will ask ‘What is your companion’s opinion?’. If you both agree, then I think I would say,’If two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay.’”