Is there a right or wrong way to practice yoga? | iHanuman


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Is there a right or wrong way to practice yoga?

 With so many styles of yoga available the question inevitably rises: what makes this one different than the next? Each lineage seems to claim that they have the answers, that they are the safest, or most informed, or most spiritual. What about the seemingly non-denominational yoga teachers out there, the purely physical practitioners? Are they really practicing yoga or merely acrobatics? And how is a student to choose? 
Over my years of practicing yoga I have had many conversations in this line of thought. It seems the alignment based traditions are at odds with the "spiritual" traditions. That the studios are at odds with the gyms. Each claiming to be practicing yoga in the "right" way. Does that make other traditions wrong?
Several very different comments on Facebook lately have gotten me thinking about how this all ties together: I recently read a comment on Facebook asking if alignment based yoga is somehow focusing on form and not function. And another comment asking if the West is ruining yoga, making it purely physical.
If you dissect a flower and the parts are strewn before you, does it cease to be a flower? Understanding the part gives us a better understanding of the whole. This goes for the physicality of yoga as well. Are you a physical or spiritual being? Can we dissect one from the other?
So in the end what I propose is this: There are many approaches to yoga and union, like a multi-faceted jewel. If we focus on only a small part, we may lose sight of the bigger picture, but it leads to understanding nonetheless. Whichever tradition or approach you take to yoga will lead to truth and understanding of one kind or another. In short there is no "right or wrong" way to practice. Yoga is a subjective practice, dependent on personal experience. Certainly listen to your body and its needs, however. Finding yourself injured is an indication of needing to change your approach. Perhaps we could more accurately say there may be a right or wrong style for each person, dependent upon their unique needs.
There are many choices in yoga styles in order to call to many kinds of people, we should rejoice in the diversity of it all, that so many people can find just what they need. Need yoga for dogs? Yoga for aching backs? Yoga -for superstars? Ass kicker yoga? It's out there. Just Google it.


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