Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 11)

12 January 2017

In this article we’ll address yoga and the variety of fitness programs available today.

It easy to see there has been a commingling of methods here. As mentioned in previous blogs the word yoga has really come into popularity lately. There are many other styles of exercise, ranging from aerobics to calisthenics to jazzercise to kick boxing and quite a few of these have come to be associated with yoga (As odd as it may seem, somebody has even come up with yoga for dogs!).

There are two main results that have come from this commingling of methods:

  • Participants come to believe that these other forms of exercise are a part of yoga, which they are not.
  • Because of this authentic yoga is left even further out of view and true yoga practice is becoming unavailable in some circumstances.

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 11)

Let’s admire those who keep the names separate. Some providers of exercise programs have integrated yoga postures into their teachings, and have resisted using the word yoga. These people are to be admired for having the wisdom to not misrepresent yoga by presenting commingled or watered-down versions under the name yoga. By presenting their programs in this way, their students are getting some of the benefits of this small physical part of yoga, while at the same time not distorting authentic yoga in the eyes of their students.

Functional training is a good example of types of programs integrating yoga principles, but without hijacking the name yoga. Leaving its higher goals to qualified yoga teachers is the correct approach towards functional training or functional exercise. From this perspective, some of the postures of hatha yoga are understood as only a part of this broader physical fitness perspective. The increasing use of terms like “functional” is very good news for traditional, authentic yoga, in that it more accurately states what is actually being done, instead of deceptively (or by omission) calling the practices yoga.

Bikram Choudhury, when interviewed by CBS in 2005 said in regard to yoga being what the interviewer referred to as ‘meditative,’ Bikram responded, "No, that's the biggest problem in America. That's the Yoga introduced to America. Yoga means sit and close your eyes and you look at the lamp, or look at the crystal. Absolutely not; absolutely you are not ready for that kind of Yoga.

"You use the body as a medium to bring the mind back to the brain. Perfect marriage between body and mind. Then, you can reach and knock the door to the spirit.

"Yoga is free. It belongs to the earth. It's a god.

"The philosophy of human life: Who you are? Human. Why you came to this earth as a human? What ultimate destination of your life? To understand all these things you have to study Yoga."

Stay tuned, this series will continue – coming up next; “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 12).” This next blog article will discuss yoga and its use (and/or abuse) as a spiritual tool.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

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