07 Aug What is real yoga?
At first it’s funny and cute, who doesn’t love a dog climbing all over them when you’re trying to practice, licking your face whilst your hands are tight in a bind with no way of saving yourself. But what starts off as cute soon becomes annoying, pretty distracting and makes me holler the word BASKET!
But there seems to be a theme gathering momentum in contemporary yoga and I’m starting to feel like I want to send the yoga industry to a basket with a chew toy.
Am I turning into a yoga snob?
The search for real yoga…
So I’m currently back at yoga school studying the roots of my yoga practice with the aim of cultivating the inspiration for my future in teaching. I’m in the throws of studying, reading, questioning and exploring the history and development of yoga and it’s flipping fascinating. I’m moving beyond what is taught on a regular teacher training and heading further back.
I’m learning about the ancient scriptures that first mention the practices of yoga. Exploring the Indian religious philosophies that influenced its development and comparing the traditional asana practices to modern developments which have been traced back to Swedish Gymnastics!
As my interest and fascination with yoga history grows and begins to shape my practice and teaching of the future. I can’t help but ponder about where yoga is and were it could be heading?
Undoubtedly there has been a commercialisation of yoga, which it could be argued, is turning the practice into an inauthentic superficial fitness and fashion trend.
What are your thoughts?
I had a look around and noticed that it’s hard to find a class that combines both physical asana with an authentic spiritual practice. Increasingly the two seem to be separating into entirely different entities.
In a studio or gym class it’s likely that spirituality will be addressed through a short sugar quoted pintrest quote that the teacher spotted that morning put together with words that sound as if they came from the New Age Bullshit Generator. (Yes the Bullshit Generator exists; follow this link to create your own deep and meaningful quotes.)
Yoga as portrayed currently in social media and advertising has become something pretty and beautiful. But to me yoga is raw, with rough edges; it’s honest, harsh, guttural, hard work and at times ugly.
So I’ve found myself wondering how a practice that once championed divine, selfless love and worship, that involved shedding yourself of worldly, bodily, possessions and attachments, turned into the ultimate act of self-love and health within the world of fitness and fashion?
As yoga and yoga teachers struggle to find a place within the increasingly competitive commercial fitness industry, they will continue to invent more bizarre and ridiculous forms of yoga, all of which a fusion of gymnastics, fitness and exercise.
Authentic spirituality will be dropped in favor of easily digestible sound bites in a desperate attempt to make yoga fun, cool and accessible to anyone who wants to practice yoga but doesn’t actually want to practice yoga. Inevitably it will continue to spiral into something unrecognizable in the main stream.
But before we all fall into a complete pit of despair, I see hope!
There is a strong underground scene; you just need to look a bit harder to find it. It’s developing and gathering momentum, it’s one full of independent thinkers and creatives happy to disassociate from the mainstream approach. They teach yoga suitable for our modern lifestyles with a refreshing authenticity that is respectful of the history and philosophies behind the practice. And it’s that scene that I’ll be working very hard to be part of. I hope you join me on the journey.
Comment below, tell me I’m a snob or congratulate me on my honesty. I want to hear about your practice and your thoughts on philosophy and spirituality in your yoga classes.