Be light in your practise, question it. An existentialist stance on Yoga

Following on from my last post ‘There’s something I want to get of my chest‘ at this point in time and being more me in my practise I am taking way more of an existentialist stance on Yoga and what I teach. I feel in our current Yoga world, there seems to be a bit of blind following going on. I want to challenge that and encourage people to find their own path.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are suggestions for how best to reach Samadhi (yogic enlightenment), they are not commandments. They are also open to interpretation, making them subjective. I say read these suggestions, experiment & question them and if they do not serve you or you have no interest in reaching Samadhi then that isn’t the end. Not practising certain aspects doesn’t constitute any sort of sin. Instead be light in your approach to yoga philosophies and see how they can be molded to fit your lifestyle, and if they don’t then perhaps don’t practise them. The Asanas (postures) & Pranayama (breathe control) might be enough for you, and that is fine. If you practise those then many say the rest will naturally follow, as SRI. K Pattabhi Jois famously said “Do your practise and all is coming”. In regularly practising we begin to quiet the mind, this allows other things to present themselves, some we may act on others we may not. Those we act on can create a chain in our practise to reach what ever our goals may be. Pattabhi also said: “Yoga is 99% Practice & 1% theory.”. This is encourages experiencing yoga first hand and then coming to your own conclusionsTo me yoga is a physical tool you can use to calm the mind and create a more subtle body. In practising, many of the other yoga benefits will come so don’t get bogged down by the theory.

To me Yoga should be a freeing experience. It’s ironic how Aparigraha (non-attachment) plays out even in Yoga itself. I say use Yoga as a tool for what ever it is your practising for, take from it what you need and don’t go changing for it. Especially if these changes cause suffering or unrest. Perhaps instead be open to it changing you. Find a middle ground a balance between your practise and your lifestyle. That’s not to say, just give up and don’t keep trying, but like with many things at some point you have to take a step back and ask yourself ‘Is this working for me?’. If the answer is no, try not to let this bind you and keep practising what you enjoy and perhaps the rest will fall into place, or perhaps not.

In my practise, with a quietened mind, I find this allows me to think more clearly and come up with new philosophies, ideas and perspectives. Also it reduces anxiety and gives me a sense of well being. In reading the Yoga philosophies and theories, I do not blindly follow them I like to question and analyse them. I think of this approach of practice, as free thinking, existentialist yoga questioning as I go on, never blindly following.

I hope this helps those who may find certain aspects of yoga too restrictive or binding. Allow yourself to be reflective and I urge you to question, investigate and ask yourself why.

In love and light, James

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