As I am learning what yoga is according to Indian Tradition, I find it interesting to see what the west and capitalism has turned yoga into. Some techniques are not even touched upon as, for the most part, yoga has been turned into a fitness workout. As a practicing yogi, I cannot say or judge someone for their thoughts. However, I can say that they are missing out on the large benefits by looking at yoga through such a small scope.
In comparison, yoga looks different on one side of the world than the other and particularly in India. A common misconception is that asana is just one aspect of yoga. As outlined by the 8 limbs of yoga, asana is actually the third step or limb. We completely skip over the first two limbs in America for the first part. Again, I am not saying this is wrong. However, it is doing such a disservice to the students as we are expecting them to come through the front door with the Yamas and Niyamas as a given.
When looking at the west we have to look at the materialism. American life and widely around the world is that we live to consume. We consume everything - knowledge, food, clothing, electronics, literally everything. For example, while examining Asteya, one forgets that stealing material goods is wrong but so is stealing someone’s credit for a job well done or their joy. I feel like as an American, I lack the openness that so many in this world possess naturally. I am not above this as I type this on my iPad Pro, listening to music on my Bose headphones from my iPhone and receiving text notifications on my Apple Watch.
In an hour, we have to provide the space for our students to become present in the class, warm their bodies up, give them a workout where they feel challenged and relax them down. When I first started to come to India, I used to think it was weird that some classes didn’t end with Shavasana. Then, I took on the mindset that every asana is Shavasana. Now, I’m completely grateful when a teacher takes Shavasana because it taught me that not everything is given in life. Sometimes, you have to take that relaxation with you or go home and take Shavasana for yourself.
It is a different world on this side of the Earth. During this weekend, Doug and I looked at possibilities of what it would look like to open a yoga teaching center in Puerto Rico. There are so many things possible at the end of the year and I am enjoying this process. It feels so good to see that hard work really does pay off in the end. I put out into the universe 3 years ago that I wanted to see the world and it is happening in ways that I couldn't even have imagined.