Believe me, I get it - what we hear about the dreadful price that yoga has paid for coming West. The apparent absence of its spiritual element in classes, teacher certifications that take a weekend to procure, peculiar fusions with fill-in-the-blank-fad-exercise regimens, yoga pose competitions, overemphasis on the physical elements of the practice, the ubiquitous growth of yoga accessories, yada yada yada. Yoga Incorporated. I get it, I promise.
I'm not immune to rolling my own eyes at all this. My ego gets a delectable little thrill when I badmouth some of the sillier trends dreamed up by Madison Avenue marketing geniuses. It makes Ego feel all smug and self-righteous. But here's a thought: maybe, just maybe it's okay to lighten up just a little bit. Bear with me here.
In "A Course in Miracles" we read:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Yoga has endured as a metaphysical art/science for thousands of years. It's survived more serious assaults than "Really Buff Ass Through Asana!" DVDs (soon in Blu-Ray?) or weekend workshops combining yoga with wine tasting. Having carried on through and beyond the Medieval Crusades, the Inquisition, and the proliferation of those dreadful corporate motivational posters in offices across America, a few "Yoga-Butt" videos isn't going to hurt it.
But seriously. yoga is an exquisite system for experiencing the Big Truth of interconnection and its essence remains unchanged - that's what makes big truths, well, so truth-y. But the means by which truth is revealed inevitably shifts. To remain relevant, the means of conveying interconnection - the already-existing fact of unity consciousness - must accommodate the mindsets and perceptions of the would-be recipients of that experience of truth. Yoga is a living event. It adjusts, respires, moves, and navigates its way through the speed bumps of human history.
Some renowned American yoga teachers that have been on the scene awhile now regret their earlier emphasis on the physical practice. As their own practice has shifted and deepened, their interest in and commitment to conveying its spiritual, meditative components has grown. But as a lovely and very visionary friend of mine observed recently, maybe a whole generation of today's for-real yogis would never have dipped their toes into yoga if it hadn't been for their initial attraction to its physical benefits. Mighty good point.
(for the full article, please visit my website at http://yogasetfree.com/america.html)