The “Wrong” Kind of Yoga
Original Date: Mar 16, 2015
Black light, nude, hot yoga…with wine. Right, or wrong? Extreme? Perhaps, but it is all too easy to fall into a mindset that believes things “should” be one way and not another. How often do you find yourself mentally scoffing at someone’s idea or actions, even if you wouldn’t say it to their face? I often like to say “It’s all yoga”, but then even I have ideas about what constitutes “true yoga”. The aforementioned example would be a tough sell for my “true yoga” mindset. But, I enjoy wearing colorful yoga pants that come in modern designs, and am not yet comfortable with my greying hair and feel the need to cover it, and enjoy laughter and music in a yoga class setting, and some could say that I too do not offer “true” yoga. Its fine with me if they do not agree with my practice or “style”. I do not need to have another person’s approval to pursue a path unique to me. But where do we draw the line? Do we set standards for our practice? Or is it a free for all? These are questions to ponder as yoga becomes more popular and comes into contact with modern American marketing schemes.
The question is “what is yoga”? If we know what it “is” that should help us to decide what it “isn’t”. Neti- Neti: A yoga practice of defining what is by determining what it isn’t. The definition of yoga we are all familiar with is “union”. The joining of body, mind, soul, with the divine. You may call it “God” or “Goddess” or “Great Spirit”, its all ONE. If there is a union, it has to be with something. I ask you, is it possible to not be in union? Is it something that magically happens only when we begin practicing the “right” kind of yoga? Or is the real issue simply a matter of not realizing that union is our true nature. If that is what we are experiencing, then we are always in a state of union and perhaps our actions, no matter what, express divine will and desire. How clearly we understand that union, how clearly we see, feel, and express it, takes shape in our actions. Some see clearly, some not so clearly. It is said that the greatest saints and sages of our times saw with great clarity. But were they more “unified” than we are? Is yoga union, or is it clear seeing of our union? I beg to believe our union is unquestionable, it matters not who you are- YOU ARE UNION, YOU ARE DIVINE EXPRESSION. How we get out of our own way in order to see more clearly (Vidya) is the true work of our living, our practice, and yoga.
Back to the original question. Is there a right or wrong to yoga? If its a matter of seeing more clearly, then we can ask, “what will help us to see more clearly and what will only further cloud our vision?” Ahh… now we have a direction. It isn’t simply a matter of following whatever whim comes into our minds eye. If we blindly follow whatever seems like the most fashionable way, or popular way, or event the most “fun”, we can ask ourselves, “Will this help me to see more clearly? Does it feed my ego? Is it serving me, or the greater community?”. Its ok to have fun. I wouldn’t want to stop someone from having fun, as long as it was rooted in ahimsa- non harming to self or others (others as in person, animal, place, environment, etc…). ( Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who thought a fun time in college was sitting in the library and reading. Introversion at its greatest expression, folks.) Nevertheless, I understand that others find fun in ways that don’t fit my conservative model mind. If your “fun” does cause harm in some way, or it only acts as an escape from your bigger issues, then it may not be serving your clear seeing.
And here is the real problem, I do believe only YOU can determine what is causing your blindness. Some may argue- “No, you need a Guru. They remove the darkness to reveal the light of seeing”. I dare say, not true. It is only ever you. ParamGuru. I am sure most folks KNOW when they are doing something that isn’t serving their highest self. Until you can stop yourself mid-cycle- mid samskara, and say “that is enough, I can’t do this anymore because it doesn’t serve me.”, then you will not have true enlightenment. You will always be dependent on your own ego driven whims, or another persons judgement of you and direction for you. When they leave or depart, or let you down, as so many Guru’s have, where will YOU be then? Only YOU can direct your clear seeing… As Hamlet said “Aye, there’s the rub.” Yoga is Union with your Self and your clear seeing. Can you get out of your own way to see the path ahead?
I may have opinions about what will serve others in their clear seeing, but it isn’t very useful. I could say “Hey- you shouldn’t practice that way, its not Real Yoga- or Real Yogi’s don’t (fill in the blank).” but its not going to help anyone see more clearly, and it certainly won’t help me. It really is just me being bossy, self- important, and judgmental. I need to focus on my seeing, my practice, my actions, which has nothing to do with what someone else is doing. If black light, nude, hot yoga with wine doesn’t resonate with me, then I can choose another way.
Who am I to say what may or may not help another person to see themselves more clearly? I only see out of my own eyes and live my own path and expression.