Is This Really Yoga?
Have you as a yoga student ever been in a class where you quietly wondered to yourself, is this Yoga?? Or, as a teacher, have you seen the look on your students’ faces when they don’t understand how “core work” and spiritual ritual come together as one and the same.
As 21st century Yogis, or seekers on the path to self-realization, it’s natural that we have tailored our spiritual practice to meet the demands of modern life. Asana sequences are becoming increasingly yang, fuelled by an insatiable inner fire to do the hardest thing in the fastest way. There are guided meditations that we can listen to in our sleep and new props, swings and slings to support our wildest Asana dreams. My question is, is that such a bad thing?
I hear a lot of complaint circling the commercialism of yoga, people slagging new “brands” of yoga for not really being yoga and ranting about all of the yoga teachers who “don’t even do their own work”. And there’s the power struggle of yoga alliance and the accepted currency of its “registration” system… I’ll leave that to another blog post 😉
I understand the place of fear where this comes from. Are we diluting an ancient tradition? Are we tainting a pure and sacred practice that has spanned millennia? We use certain yogic tools and techniques like a malleable metal, reshaping them into a modified form more ‘suitable’ to our current environment. Like a flake to a spear or the fluid evolution of a language, is it so wrong that these practices shape shift to suit the things (humans) that they are working on, or can we even call ‘it’ Yoga anymore?
Well, I’ll just put it out there… Yoga will remain Yoga, independent of how we interpret it, brand it, sell it or share it. Have no fear people, Yoga is going to be alright. In my humble opinion, any style that we are owning as new or our own, isn’t actually Yoga anymore anyway, which naturally liberates it from any association with “us” and our poor contemporary versions 😉
I love yoga. I love flavour and colour and style and personality along with tradition and lineage and gurus and the sages of the ages. I have a lot of respect and a lot to learn from authentic teachers with a voice, with things to say and unique ways to share them. And, I personally don’t care much for a battle of what is better or right or real or wrong.
I seek a sacred practice that connects me to the divine, a way to devote myself to a life of love. A simple “spiritual being having a human experience,” I am here to remember who I AM. And if this conscious evolution happens through song or dance or mantra and meditation then, thank you and that is all.
How can we embrace a new age and a new culture of Yoga while maintaining our integrity around the practice? How can we uphold our highest intentions while sharing a very personal practice with the world? And by that I mean how do we stay true to Yoga when we are flashing it all over Instagram or the like? Can we? (Watch this if you want a laugh!)
I don’t know but I feel pretty relaxed in this place of not knowing. I trust that Yoga will always be Yoga and us spiritual beings will have a human experience of it, whatever that means.
Peace and love my friends.
Photo by Daan Verhoeven
A deep dive into Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas