A colleague of mine was recently asked by a client “what is the point of yoga?” My colleague, who is not a yoga teacher, said she did not know how to respond and asked me what would I have said?
The point of yoga depends on who is dong it and why.
Yoga has a long history, and has changed significantly over the past 150 years. Depending on who is teaching, what their training has been and the nature of the class you can get almost anything you desire these days.
Originally Yoga was a scientific method for you to experiment with social constraints, moral principles, poses, breathing and meditation in order to become self-actualized or enlightened.
In other words you had to have a burning desire to disengage from a householder’s lifestyle and live under extreme conditions with unwavering conviction to attain freedom from a distorted sense of how things are.
Yoga was a system and methodology to guide you through the process. Usually the teacher was considered a guru.
This emphasis shifted (and continues to shift faster and faster) from the beginning of the 20th Century. In the early 1900’s yoga became more prestigious as a national “sport” for India. Yoga at this time adopted gymnastic and martial-art moves and sequences. Have you ever noticed how similar chair pose is to a squat? Or sun salutations look like burpees?
Many myths were attached to yoga’s benefits and it soon became medicalized in nature. Yoga was seen to make your body more beautiful, elegant and flexible. Meditation was to relax you and drop blood pressure levels. Breath work could basically cure any malady.
In the 21st century it takes on a whole new level of zaniness. Yoga has goats, beer, nudity and just about anything you like. In my four years as a teacher I have taught aerial yoga, Boga (yoga on a stand up paddle board), Rock your Flow, Yoga sculpt, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga for a healthy back, chair yoga, yoga for athletes, cardio-yoga, Yoga Nidra and more!
While many clients are looking to yoga as something that can help them manage stress, anxiety, stiffness, imbalance and mental focus the truth is, you are embracing something whose roots are calling you to reprioritize your values.
Self actualization (maturity) starts with self acceptance and self care. These concepts are not easy for the western mind which is used to only valuing worldly achievement, being competitive and constantly judging and criticizing others.
Under current pandemic conditions forcing new social mores, political unrest and social media gone wild, many are looking for ways to navigate stressful and anxious times.
New norms, new protocols, new ideas reveal uncertainty. As a species uncertainty tends to be emotionally unsettling. Unsettled emotions tend to lead to many irrational conclusions and an existential tension. Not fun to feel in oneself or others.
To me, that puts you in the perfect place to consider yoga, meditation and breath work as tools for change.
In a word I like to think of yoga as a pause. A slowing down. An opportunity to introspect, reflect and contemplate for oneself. I believe the world needs a deeper thoughtfulness at this time. That can only come from letting go of worry and anxiety. Pausing will help you learn the art of letting go.
I can recommend some great reading for the history of yoga. Better still I recommend you start or continue with your own practice. I can support you with many resources (free yoga videos and my 9 short guided meditation cd / mp3) as well as live stream classes.
Contact me for further information at anytime.
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Why Do Yoga at Home?
Since Covid-19 several of my clients have discovered that doing live-stream yoga is: