Yoga: Teaching or TVing?

16 08 2008
Used under creative commons license from flickr user Eric_Lon

Used under creative commons license from flickr user Eric_Lon

by Derek Beres

The other day one of my students mentioned that he saw a yoga class advertised as having “no chanting, or any of that spiritual stuff.” I have come across such protestations from the anti-foo-foo crowd before, or at least from cautious marketers trying to capture a corner of the growing population that wants a physical workout without that other “stuff.”

As an instructor, I admittedly avoid talking about “spirituality.” It’s too abstract for me; yoga is a foundational tool for building awareness, so my talks tend to lean towards psychology and behavior, not concepts that may or may not be true. When you separate spirit from matter, you’re admitting defeat in the comprehension of union.

Overall, a fundamental connection to the intention of the practice should be adhered to. While self-realization may not have been the initial goal—yoga was most likely the invention of warriors quieting their mind for battle, and as it evolved it became more of a vehicle for community—when it merged with the Samkhya tradition, yoga was all about turning the mirror unto and into one’s self.

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