I would like to throw light on something I had read couple of days ago, a post shared by a popular Yoga teacher (from India) – ‘Some months back I was told by one of my students that westerners just make Yoga look so much better! In fact they make everything look better because of their bodies.’
She was taken aback by the careless and perhaps racist comment. And being a Yoga teacher myself, it worried me too… the superficial and rather shallow outlook we have despite embracing an art form that teaches self-acceptance, equanimity and compassion.
But what could have made her think that way? Perhaps the same frame of mind that an ad-maker & consumer of a fair & lovely cream is troubled with? Perhaps the same frame of mind that makes one (to this day) post a free ad on Brides Wanted, highlighting ‘beautiful & fair complexion’.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we compare? Who is benefiting ? The booming industry of ‘feel good – look good products’ for sure are enjoying every bit of our insecurities. They present to you a brand new solution to make you feel empowered. And guess what? We happily buy into it.
Talking about compassion, my intention is not to criticize someone who has an opinion. It is a free world. Hmm … we will come back to that.
But lets dive deeper here, into the shallow parody of virtual spirituality. Why is Yoga all about asanas now? All about the body? And yet one talks about chakras, nadis, enlightenment, emotional balance, nirvana! When did asana, yes it is very much a state of maintaining mind-body-breath equilibrium – transform itself from being a meditative tool to being the ultimate goal in itself? Why is complete emphasis laid on asana?
The social media is full of picture perfect moments and let’s not forget the sudden stages of conscious awakening people are depicting on virtual platforms. Yes, yoga as a work-out routine is great. It flushes out toxins, helps you increase awareness of your body, thoughts, emotions, etc. I have another lengthy blog on benefits of Yoga asana. I love the practice. It’s brilliant. But I also realise that perfecting a pose does not give me deep insight into how I should and everyone else for that matter … lead their life.
Thanks to the modern Yoga alliances who have laid out the so called Yoga syllabus for the modern Yogi and Yoga schools, everyone now understands, just after their 2 month long teacher training course, how an asana affects the chakra, the emotions and breath.
But how often have we heard of a Hatha Yogi attain enlightenment? Aren’t selfless service, love & compassion – few of the common characteristics found in Yogis? … I mean Yogis who practice Yoga, that is union of mind, body and soul to become one with the Supreme, to attain Moksha. The sort of people, Gurus or ascetics, who show us the Isvara/eternal bliss that lies dormant in each of us, irrespective of whether we can balance in a hand stand or not.
Have we, for the sake of convenience, ruled out the rather important and difficult to follow paths of Yoga. Being non-judgemental to begin with, being compassionate, practising non-violence, what about Īśvarapraṇidhāna? True, it takes time, for one to realise all this, thus the cycle of birth.
“Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.”
Perhaps time’s definition of life is the ultimate realisation. It takes time. So let us be true & kind to ourselves … we are mastering the art of physical exercise which is certainly a must to live a healthy life. And talking about discipline … there is no art form that you can master without commitment and discipline, be it dance, martial art or even acting. So the practice of asana alone can only help a person so much and it certainly shouldn’t blind us with it’s Maya. The perfection of asana does not set a benchmark for one’s spiritual intellect. I think that all other paths, that is Jnana, Bhakti and Karma go hand in hand and play an equal part in your journey of spiritual transformation.