By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What is the New Age Movement? Is it harmful? What do New Age concepts have to do with Yoga? Why do some Yoga teacher training courses inject variations of New Age philosophy in their curriculum?

What is the New Age Movement? New Age philosophy is not standardized. New Age spirituality is often characterized by the individual approach to religion, spiritual practice, and philosophy. The New Age movement is a Universalist spiritual approach, which seeks truth and the attainment of one’s highest potential.

The New Age movement often borrows universal concepts from every religion and many different philosophies. Due to the lack of standardization, it may be classified as a decentralized spiritual movement. It could be said that New Age spirituality is the pursuit of a communion with an ultimate reality, spiritual truth, or God – through some form of direct experience or insight.

Is it harmful? If you listen to religious fundamentalists, anything outside of their religion is harmful. If we take an objective look at all religions, there are common moral principles. There are differences, but one who searches for Universal Truths is going to cross reference a number of religions, and notice what they have in common.

For most of us, it is much easier to refer to ethics and morality from the roots of our religious instruction. Stealing and killing are not endorsed by any of the major religions of this century. Yet, religious conflicts still exist to this day. This tendency, of  a few religious leaders, to incite violent religious conflicts, has inadvertently created the New Age spiritual movement.

What do New Age concepts have to do with Yoga? Some religious fundamentalists lump all ideas, outside their religion, into one common belief. The truth is – New Age ideas have little to do with Yoga. They may borrow diagrams of the subtle body, Yamas, and Niyamas; but they also borrow principles from almost every philosophy, religion, and way of life.

Why do some Yoga teacher training courses inject variations of New Age philosophy in their curriculum? Perhaps, the founder, or director of Yoga instruction for teachers, has spiritual beliefs, which are rooted in some form of New Age spiritual concepts. Always remember that New Age spiritual beliefs are part of a vast alternative spiritual subculture, and can also be based upon religions or philosophies of the past.

With no standardization in New Age philosophy, there are many different viewpoints. Since Yoga is not standardized, it attracts people who want to experience spiritual growth, and have a wide variety of beliefs. Either way – Yoga and the New Age movement are two completely different entities; but both tend to attract independent thinkers.

© Copyright 2010 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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