Yoga āsana is hugely popular now, and it often seems that the people who are interested are motivated by superficial desires, like wanting to get in shape, avoid pain, or to get rid of stress. All of these side effects of a dedicated āsana practice are nice, but I encourage you to find a deeper, higher motivation for practice. Yoga is not really a self-help program; it is a spiritual technology. The tools that are used in yoga are powerful, and they are intended for sincere practitioners. That is one of the reasons that the teachings of yoga were hidden for many years. These techniques amplify the quality, the energy, within the practitioner, therefore practicing without the proper view can actually cause disturbances.
Yoga is less about self-improvement and more about Self-awareness. This type of Self-awareness is recognizing our divinity and taking responsibility for our experience. I have capitalized the Self here to denote that it is representing the Supreme Self and not the individual self.
So what do yoga postures have to do with Self-awareness? Often it is really hard to get a clear awareness of oneself. We have so much information coming in at once that it can be hard to differentiate what information is coming from our individual self, which is always changing, and our Self, which is constant. Āsana teaches us the discipline need to create an environment that is conducive to having an experience of the Self. These physical postures clean the energetic body resulting in a healthy physical body. Once the body is clean and healthy, we can start to focus on what else we are experiencing in the form of thoughts and emotions. Developing intimacy without inner landscape gives us the opportunity to access and redesign if need be. Āsana helps us cultivate the sensitivity need to transform our beings; once we are aware of our energy, we can work with it. Ultimately this is like tending the field of our soul, creating an environment rich for experiencing our Self. Ok I know, maybe it is hard to think about yoga this way, luckily yoga has this way of getting into your system. It starts to polish us, revealing our deepest desires to know ourselves. No matter what your motivation to practice is, there are some important things to consider.
- Yoga is an ancient spiritual tradition, with that in mind it should be approached with sincerity.
- Thought and consideration should be taken when making money off a spiritual tradition.
- If you are not a part of a tradition you should not represent it. You can learn, practice, and share.
- Be careful not to extract parts of a tradition without acknowledging where it came from.
- Learn the terminology and philosophy, if not for your self out of respect.
- When you have the opportunity to highlight a teacher from within the traditions DO.
- Educate yourself.