yoga and india
posted: July 31, 2010
Chris Chavez leading a yoga class on the beach in Vancouver, BC
I love yoga & lululemon, but I’m wondering if you all think that yoga is not being as strictly practiced as it was conceived, in India, by the true yogis centuries ago. It seems to have become ultra trendy & fad-ish; especially in the West. For instance: don’t you feel that, in order to be a true master, yoga instructors should spend a training stint in India? What are your thoughts on this? – Ashvin
three yogis answer
I think that it is pretty amazing that yoga is becoming more accessible to the greater population here in the West and I applaud those styles of yoga that demystify the traditionalists strict views on how and where yoga should be practiced. I believe it is important to honour the history of yoga, but by no means do you have to go anywhere other than inward to discover your connection to the higher spirit. That is the big misconception of the human race: that we must go somewhere else, get something new, do more, learn more, fix ourselves, that someone else has the answer!! As Buddha taught, the journey to enlightenment is to go inward, not to seek outwardly. You are already whole and complete. If going to India inspires you, then awesome, but by no means is the answer you are looking for in some Himalayan cave: it is inside you. It has been there waiting for you to discover all along!
I don’t subscribe to the idea that training in India is necessary to become a well rounded, educated and dedicated yoga teacher. India is the birthplace of yoga but its beauty can only be found by the practitioner, regardless of location. Whether one practices in an Indian ashram or in the gym of their community, yoga is experienced and expressed in its authenticity through an individual’s own unique experiences with it.
Having said that, I would agree that yoga has suffered some spiritual poverty in the modern world. It has been trivialized, watered down, or reduced to clichés. The deep and eternal essence of yoga has often been misrepresented and, in some cases, yoga has been reduced to the status of just another exercise program available on videotape.
In the course of time, asana or yoga postures gained more popularity in the physically minded West, and other aspects of the teachings fell to the sidelines.
But the goal or destination of yoga is yoga itself, union of the little self and the True Self. The mere fact that one might do a few stretches with the physical body does not in itself mean that one is headed towards that high union referred to as yoga, but unlocking that energy is dependant on the practitioner’s intention.
With all that said, I believe some credit is due to the trend-setting evolution that has emerged in the West, for it has made yoga accessible to all in many shapes and forms, and, through that, many more people have been gifted the beauty of this practice.
I agree. Yoga & lululemon are both fantastic! The great saints and sages simply pass on information that hopefully guides us inside to follow the guru within. As for “true yogis,” well, what does that mean? Who says what is right and wrong, or good and bad? It’s all in our minds – yours, mine, or some author who thinks they are an authority. The bottom line is that the only person who knows the right answer is you! If something works for you, use it; and, if not, leave it behind.
I don’t believe it is necessary to have any training in India. However; I will say that India is an amazing country and if you can get some training there or at least visit, it will shed some light on the world we live in. The culture, the people, the energy, and the mess are quite unbelievable! It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. Forever we’ve been told that happiness lies within, or “the Kingdom of God is within,” and many other variations on that theme. It was never more apparent to me than in India. In the midst of chaos and dirt and what from the outside looks horrible, people find a true sense of peace. Something most of us in the West continually strive for. We can have the husband, the wife, the job, the house, the money, the car, etcetera, and still be unhappy! On a crowded, noisy street corner in Varanasi I noticed a woman doing a Ganesh Puja. She had found an inner sanctuary among the chaos which showed me that it MUST come from inside! Now, when I get upset about something or something doesn’t go my way, I have to understand that it’s really just my perspective on the situation. Our minds are limited and if we can expand our mind, even just a little, we will see that there is a much bigger picture and something much greater of which we are a part.
So, while it is important to learn from “true masters,” I don’t believe that should be a goal. I think that following your inner guide is a great goal and it is the only way you find your way to being a true master if that is your destiny.
- Ted, lululemon Malibu ambassador
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