This week Facebook brought me this article about Western Yoga and spiritual accountability. It’s an articulate and well thought out article, so if you have time I’d encourage you to read it. If you don’t have time, then I can summarize for you. This author believes that Western Yoga has been so abridged that it hardly resembles its original form, and this separation is bad for yogis, society, and a slap-in-the-face to our yoga ancestors. We have diverged so far from the “true” form of yoga that it is toxic to our society. She encourages us to learn about the genuine form of yoga and to work on pushing America to adopt the more authentic form of yoga.
Am I familiar with what original yoga is/was like? Not really. I have an idea and can infer based on reading yoga texts and going to a variety of classes for over 6 years but I’ve never been to India or studied yoga under any guru. My experience with yoga has been entirely western. I studied under teachers that mainly teach asana and little bits of spirituality, but I definitely stuided the yamas, the niyamas and the pillars of yoga. Yes I would say the majority of the US only practices asana and ignores the other parts of yoga, but do I think that’s bad? No. I think it’s fine. To each his own.
Honestly, really, and truly try to let everyone follow their own path. And if the path is just asana then that should be fine. I think it’s great that yoga can come with or without spirituality. The option to pick and choose how spiritual you want your experience to be is awesome. I think it would be nice if we had more access to the original form of yoga; having both spectrums – so that we could really pick and choose what we want to practice, but seems like Americans are working on that and that it will eventually arrive. Is it a shame that we only know asana? Yes I think so, but is it a shame that we can choose to separate the two? No way.
The Campbell Soup Study. So a long time ago Campbell’s Soup was in search for the perfect soup. One that they could market for the masses so they did taste tests with groups of people. One soup they tested was chunky and the other was smooth. After testing a large population they discovered that the results were almost perfectly divided. Half the population liked the chunky soup and half liked the smooth soup. Why was there no perfect soup? Because everyone is different. Everyone likes something different. So they changed their strategy. Instead of selling only one perfect soup, Campbell’s sold 20 different kinds of soup.
I think everyone should adopt this approach that everyone should have the right to choose from many options for all things especially religion and spirituallity. As a Christian you are indoctrinated and taught a set of rules. You can’t choose to follow some and not others even if there is logic to your choice. This alienates a huge set of people and I think yoga should avoid that. If we work towards making all yoga studios teach yoga the “original” way then we will alienate a huge set of people. If anything the asana can be a bridge to bringing people to the more spiritual yoga. I mean everyone has to start somewhere. You might ask, “What if someone just decides they only ever want asana?” And I would say, “Well there is nothing for me to do but to give them what they want.” You cannot persuade someone that is not open to being persuaded.
So what if people only want the asana? That is their choice and we shouldn’t judge them. So what if people only want the spiritual? That is their choice and we shouldn’t judge them. Shed the judgement, bring all the options, and just let people figure out their lives. That is all we can do.
hahaha then again I might want our extremes to collide so that this happens.