21st century and here we are still trying to figure out our body, trying to see things that are naturally hidden. Wasting all our energy questioning about the same energy and doubting if it really exists? So busy trying to define and change everything around us that we have forgotten how beautifully it existed. Now modernization may be an advantageous thing as we can see the unseen, predict the future at some point and take precautions over the hazards as we define it but let’s focus on a question here. Does everything has to be (so called) modernized?
Until, people re-discovered yoga from the east, which defined the concept of energy as “prana” flowing through small channels in our body i.e. “nadis”, the term ‘energy’ was always defined as “the ability to do work.” It was the concept of yoga which added a dimension of thinking on the one. The world is attracted towards yoga. According to the yoga statistics last updated on 2018, there are thought to be 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide. Yoga has been accepted as a way of life, as a pure gift of nature that brings amazing health benefits with zero side effects (if properly followed). However, through some studies, yoga has now been considered more dangerous than previously thought as it has known to be a cause of many injuries as other sports. Sadhguru says that medically and scientifically, we can prove it today that our body and mind functions way better, our blood chemistry can be changed, everything about us can be changed if we just remain very joyful through yoga and meditation but he also adds that he wouldn’t want to use the word yoga because when he sees the yoga that people are practicing in the west particularly in America, it scares him. Who is to blame? Yoga or the sadhakas. Let us take a guess it’s somewhere in between.
According to the eastern philosophy, yoga is to be practiced under some rules like “ahimsa” i.e non-violence. Empty stomach and bowels are other cleansing practice that needs to be fulfilled before the practice of yoga. While in the west, the sadhakas are practicing “beer yoga”, “chicken nuggets yoga” which requires eating and drinking while performing the asanas. And the surprising thing is that ‘beer yoga’ has now come to different parts of the east from the west and is trending more among the youngsters. Yoga as a lifestyle added to beer seems a bit confusing. It sounds like adding water in the milk in order to enjoy its pure taste. Goat yoga is another form of yoga as a fitness trend in the west which is more like an animal therapy and not very much of yoga that the east is aware of. Some so called Sadhakas manipulates some Asanas and the practicing fashion and claims that this type of yoga is their contribution. “Vikram yoga” is a similar example of horrible presentation of exercises in artificially increased room temperature (in the name of Yoga).
In the same way, Pranayama which is a long-standing breathing technique that has been advocated for generations in the east is now being practiced as “cardiac coherence breathing” in the west. Is it so important to rename something so pure which also already has its own name? The Indian yoga minister counters that yoga is treated as a workout in the west while in the east it is taken into much deeper aspect of awareness. Yoga is not just about the myth of flexibility and beauty or attaining that final posture that you’ve been working on since three days. It is not a destination. Rather, it’s a journey within. They don’t call it a “yoga practice” for nothing. It’s not about reaching to the top of the mountain but enjoying the climb and not worrying if you can or cannot make it to the top.
Even the art of yoga couldn’t escape from the cruel world of over-commercialization. There are plenty of yoga mats in the market that are made from plant-based materials like tree, rubber and jute and there are branded PVC mats and branded latex-free mats. There are yoga blocks and multiple colored yoga balls and yoga wheels. There’s also something called yoga tea and yoga soaps and what not? Does adding expensive price tags to everything and making it complicated necessarily beautify it? Also, yoga has now been taken as an easy subject for the source of income in the industry. There are training programs for a week or a month that is clearly not qualified enough for someone to become a yoga guru or an instructor. It takes years of practice and experience for the title under the guidance of a master as it is not a small one and definitely not an easy job too. Preaching is just not enough for what truly essential is the wisdom to unfold the sheath of knowledge and the oddity to enlighten hope to guide the disciples from the darkness to the light.
So, let us all be aware to differentiate between the right and the wrong because that is what yoga educates us to do. Yoga has liberated us all. Don’t you think it is our duty to liberate it too?
– Author is a doctor of naturopathy and yogic sciences.