‘The external aspects of yoga are not as important as the journey inwards’

Good read from The Hindu over the weekend:

I read a hilarious article on the Internet this morning. It was about a yoga student who opened a studio – an official franchise of a popular style of yoga. He argued with his “Guru” (in this case, the owner of the franchise) about the carpet. Yes, the carpet. He thought the carpet was disgusting and attracted colonies of germs. The guru insisted on conformity in his yoga empire with regard to teaching method, sequence of ãsanas and carpets. The story ended with the resourceful man leaving the franchise and starting his very own style of yoga.

This story is just one example of how the modern world has become obsessed with the external aspects of yoga. I have come across articles questioning the ethics of a company that makes yoga pants for only thin people, articles that describe how yoga can “wreck the body”, fights between ‘under the knee cap yogis’ (who focus on the anatomy) and ‘dancer yogis’, who flow from one ãsana to the next, each claiming that theirs is the only authentic yoga.

It hits on an old point here: That the Yoga Sutras don’t focus much on asanas:

There are no ãsanas described in the book. It shows us that yoga is not just a practice for the body but something that touches the physical, mental and spiritual. Through this book we are given the tools to live a purposeful life.

It’s fun to jump around on the mat and to achieve ãsanas that we never thought were possible; it is wonderful to lose weight and feel strong. But as yogis, we would be cheating ourselves if we missed out on the true gifts that yoga has to offer – discovery of the true self.

It occurs to me, as it should have before, that Patanjali is our best argument against picturing asanas — or at least against lionizing it.

Anyway, the Hindu provides a fairly succinct argument as part of the “value of yoga selfies” debate.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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