There is a huge debate going on regarding the integrity of modern Yoga and what it is evolving into. Documentaries, social media posts, articles and even in discussion amongst yoga teachers and those who practice yoga. Who is in the right? As a fairly recently qualified Yoga Teacher I can testify how easy it is to train and gain insurance to enable one to teach what is termed ‘Yoga’. The course that enabled me to teach was, I felt, lacking somewhat in philosophy & spirituality and so I sought out another course that is now offering what I seek as, firstly a lifetime student and hopefully an effective teacher. I am lucky in that I have practiced Yoga for 21 years and at the age of 18, whilst a student of Philosophy at University I came across a travelling monk who stopped me in my home town one day and gave me a battered copy of The Baghavad Gita. I have read this text many times amongst other scriptures translated and annotated to help me understand the background of Yoga. Without this private practice and study the original course I undertook would not have made me a Yoga Teacher, but a Fitness Instructor inspired by Yoga Asana. Whether this is right or wrong is not for me to say.
It does not mean, however, that I completely disagree with the physical yoga classes that take place throughout the world. Asana is an important part of Yoga as a whole and is often the path members are offered in the beginning. The 8 limbs of yoga (Astanga) set out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s offer a holistic practice and yet not everyone starts their journey with the first limb. For those looking only for a physical practice we cannot, as teachers, judge because the benefits of asana are vast and great. I always hope when a member comes to my class that they start to notice the subtle differences in body-mind that their practice creates and that in time the full Yoga that is available starts to unfold for them. I never force this ‘full’ Yoga on any member and the reasons are that not everyone is ready or open to it. Therefore, I begin with asana and hope to lead toward the other 7 limbs over time and only when the member is ready.
Wherever you are in your Yoga, as long as your intention is strong, pure and devoted all of what Yoga offers is there for the taking whenever you are ready. Find your teacher, practice often and follow your own path as it is only you who knows what you are looking for.