Has yoga become the pot smoking teenager of spiritual practice?
Many people nowadays who take yoga classes do so for physical benifits alone, they haven’t heard of Pantanjali or care much for the Pradipika, they would like to tone up and fit back into their old pair of favourite jeans. There is nothing wrong with this. Everyone is walking their own path and they have the right to do so. I do think there is something wrong with these classes being called “yoga”, though. If we are going to teach yoga then let’s teach it! Let’s maintain the integrity of it and pass on the knowledge as true to it’s origin as possible. If that doesn’t sell to a mass audience then so be it, it’s just like that, the ones who it does mean something to will have it forever and it will have the ability to change them in the most miraculous of ways.
We cannot treat our students as if they are only here to preform a set sequence of aerobic manouvers. We, as teachers, must ignite the fire in them to want to understand more, to delve deeper into the practice of yoga in everyday life and not just on the mat. Yoga is an ancient philosophy, a deep understanding on life and how to live it. It has been tried and tested for what some researchers believe is close to 10,000 years and it is still here, with a stronger presense then ever although now it’s boundaries seem to have become blured. It sometimes seems that everyone who is anyone want’s to jump on the gravy train and make a quick buck from the evre increasing “Yoga” industry.
The oldest Yogic texts are known as the Rig Veda which were developed by the Bhramans, who were the Vedic priests. Yoga practices and beliefs were being documented by dedicatied practicioners, mainly Vedic priests and mystic seers, they compiled a book now famously known as the Upanishads. It was in this sacred text that the priests and mystics took the ritual of sacafice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacarfice of ego and self through knowledge and service. It is believed that this is the gateway to supreme consciousness, unity and peace. This is what we should be teaching. This is what yoga practioners deserve to know, without this it is mere acrobatics.
With all that being said though, the type of yoga so often found nowadays can be a spiritual stepping stone, it can be that gateway which leads us into a deeper understanding of who we are and what we are here to do. Hopefully yoga is becoming a gateway spiritual drug for more and more practicioners, this can only happy if we, the teachers, maintain the integritity of the practice on and off the mat.