You wouldn’t think something like yoga would be controversial, but apparently there are a lot of bitter, judgmental people who practice. The most judgmental seem to be the traditionalists (not surprising, since the traditionalists in pretty much anything often have harsh views towards anyone who doesn’t see things their way).
I tried picking up yoga many times before it stuck. I think the only reason it did stick is that I found Tara Stiles on YouTube. She approaches yoga in a very matter of fact way. You can tell that it has deeper meaning for her and is really a lifestyle choice, but unlike many yogis, she doesn’t try to push her dogma on you. She teaches you the poses, leads you through routines designed to tone, de-stress, inspire, etc, and lets you decide how deeply you feel it, spiritually speaking. This philosophy has led “traditional” yogis to brand her a traitor and sell out. Her biggest “crimes” are promoting yoga as exercise and as a practice which can be done by anyone. Traditionalists believe that every yoga session must be a profound spiritual experience, and only those who can truly appreciate the Hindu heritage of the practice should be allowed on the mat.
I personally do yoga because it relaxes me, increases my flexibility, tones my whole body, and provides joint pain relief. I’m not at all interested in the spiritual aspect of the “traditional” practice. But, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t mean my practice is any less valid than the practice of traditional yogis who spend hours chanting and meditating as they move through asanas. It just means my practice is my own.