Volume 6 Issue 2 FALL 2020

6 0 S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 6 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 0 Restraining the Yoga Police Received April 22, 2020 Revised April 26, 2020 Accepted April 30, 2020 This essay was inspired by the question ‘ what is yoga? ’ Texts describe the answer in many different ways, so generalisations are often misleading. Yoga is best defined in context. However, one common theme across yogic traditions is inward focus. This is often said to lead beyond the mind, and its personalisation of existence. As a result, the basic aim is self-inquiry, deconstructing illusions about identity. Ironically, many defenders of traditional yoga – as well as its critics – are often more focused on what other people do. Definitions of yoga are used as a way of imposing norms, and attempts to enforce them amount to censure by ‘the yoga police’. Drawing on quotations from yogic texts, the essay argues that policing others in the name of authenticity is itself the epitome of ‘unyogic’ conduct. Key words Yoga, Indian yoga, Western yoga, yoga scriptures Daniel Simpson