Is it Yoga Yet?

by Milissa on April 10, 2011

in Philosophy,Yoga

What is it with my job karma? So many of the jobs I’ve had over the years have become obsolete. I worked as a carhop (sans the roller skates). Plugged cords into a switchboard to transfer calls (think Lily Tomlin’s character on Laugh In, snorting, “one ringy dingy…two ringy dingies…”). And I had a job I thought I’d stay at forever: managing a slide archive in an art museum (yep, that was prior to the digital revolution).

Will yoga teachers, too, go the way of the dinosaur? I don’t think so—not at this point anyway—but I am concerned that this might be wishful thinking on my part.

I have to admit that it’s disheartening when I see the commercialized physical fitness form of this ancient spiritual tradition pervading the scene. Much of the so-called yoga that people are currently teaching is simply glorified calisthenics, without the deeper practices of self-knowledge and interconnection that make yoga a truly transformative psycho-spiritual practice. Some modern yogis will argue that there has to be a way in, and that the physical practices of Hatha Yoga have always had the purpose of strengthening and purifying the body to create a safe container for the energetic openings that come with the concentration practices of Raja Yoga.

Still, my heart sinks a bit when a neighbor tells me she has never taken a yoga class, but instead does Tree Pose and Warrior II lead by a disembodied voice on Wii. I’m all for technological advances that increase access for those who wouldn’t have the opportunity to practice otherwise, but I don’t believe that a “yoga game” has much to do with yoga citta nirodaha—the serene mind that Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra invites us to experience. I can’t blame my neighbor; we all want convenience and value, especially during these harried times. And, of course, she hasn’t experienced being in a quiet yoga studio with a teacher guiding her into a relaxed state of self-awareness and compassion.

A living, breathing teacher who is experienced could also help her through any resistance or confusion that might arise: not just about where to place her feet in relation to her knees, but how to uncover her true Self and celebrate her connection to the web of life. Call me biased, but this student-teacher relationship—I have to believe—is what helps the uninitiated person embody the richest part of herself. And this not only allows the individual to show up more fully in life; it also has a ripple effect, benefiting every person that the practicing yogi or yogini interacts with.

My mantra these days, when I feel concerned about the state of my profession, and my own livelihood, is: Do the work and then let go. This is what the Bhagavad Gita, one of the ancient texts of yoga philosophy teaches.

What a relief! Because “I can’t quit you yoga!”

If you’re looking for an experienced yoga teacher to guide you in this transformative work I’m here—in the real. No TV or computer monitor to plug in. Just give me a shout!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura April 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Beautiful! I’m sharing this on Facebook.


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