I am an angry yogi, I noticed that this morning on the scooter to class and my poor students had to take it. That’s irresponsible! She is a yogi she shouldn’t be angry?! Nope, I am a human and not 24/7 a happy hippo. And I don’t believe in a fake spirituality of wearing a mask of constant-positivity, because no one is – until enlightened. And even then, I doubt that an enlightened monk never wakes up with a bad mood, but they can let go of it easier for sure. I heard writing is therapeutic technique to transforms anger into a healthy expression healthy and an efficient text, so thats what this might be.
Actually, there is a reason why I am angry. Usually something acts like a trigger for our anger, my trigger in this case was a vinyasa class I took last night. Where a colorful variety of poses was unskillfully and unsafely thrown together, a tripod, a loose shoulder stand, half moon, galavasana, boat, warrior II, warrior III, crow pose etc. Yes, I sweated crazy. It seemed like the yoga teacher tried to impress the students with as many poses as possible from each pose category, most difficult, and complex – combination sequences that where practices for 10 min balancing on only one leg. These days where it is so easy to call yourself a ‘yoga teacher‘ after one month of training – the number of people who are ‘yoga teachers‘ increases but also the number of people who have actually no clue about the tradition and the science of yoga. Cause that’s what yoga is, it is a science, it is a philosophy and a tradition.
Few know about the anatomy of the physical body, and the anatomy of the mind. Because EVERY POSE has an immediate energetic effect on our mind, emotional, physical and mind body. It’s not just rowing various poses next to each other and that’s it. Teaching yoga is an art. It has so so much to it to make a yoga class a real good one, a real healthy and even healing one.
I am angry and actually sad about how poorly yoga is taught these days, unskillfully and watered down to a physical exercise practice! Guys, sweating as much as possible and doing most fancy poses in a row has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOGA!!! This is an exercise class please call it gymnastics, call it workout but not yoga.
yogas chitta vritti nirodhaha
yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
Yoga = to yoke, to join, to unite
Chitta = consciousness / mind
Vritti = fluctuations
Nirodhah = quieting of
tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam
Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.
tada = then, at that time; at the time of concentration and meditation
drashtuh = the seer’s, of the soul, witness, Atman, Self; from the root drsh, which means to see (It is significant to note that Patanjali is not trying to define who is the seer, or the nature of that seer. This is left to be answered or resolved in direct experience.)
svarupe = in its own nature, own form or essence; (sva = own; rupa = form)
avasthanam = stability, settling, remaining, being in a state, resting, standing, lying, abiding; the root stha means to stand
Taught by the wise sage Patanjali in the yoga sutras one of the famous, classic philosophic yogic texts.
Patanjali is basically saying: We have to get still first then we can experience our purest and true being, which is pure expansive awareness.
Only when you still the fluctuations of the mind you can experience more of who you are, the you can reach a state of yoga, of union. Cause that’s what yoga means.
He didn’t say, yoga is about sweating like crazy and showing off in your arm balances.
I ask you, how can your mind get still when you sweat through as many poses as possible with no break in-between? How can you breathe properly and sense the energetic impact of the pose when there is no space to do so?! When there are no moments of stillness? And when shavasana is only 3 min long, how can integration work in you and carry you into a space of expansive awareness – your own true beingness?!
(Why shavasana is the most important pose of the practice I soon will write an article about)
Why don’t you just chill Wanda, why do you bother? Cause I care! That’s why, I truly care for yoga and the gift that yoga has to offer to us. I honor what the traditional has taught about yoga.
And surely Yoga is many things and Patanjali is not the only yogi there was. But what the majority of ancient yogis and spiritual masters have found out:
Yoga the gift of self-remembrance. Yoga is the practice, the path to our true self. The path of self-realization.
The gift of realizing more of who we truly are. To reconnect to our divine nature. And in order to do that we have to become more aware, and we can only become more aware of the thoughts, actions and decisions we take, the content of our mind, if we slow down. Yes, we HAVE TO SLOW DOWN OUR PRACTICE there is no other way in order to truly reconnect with our essence. We cannot become sensitized to energy or notice the fluctuations of our mind if we hardly can breathe or cannot be still for a single minute. Nice workout but not yoga. So, I would like to propose that not every yoga class that says you get yoga is actually yoga. Quite the opposite – because if you look on what tradition says, yoga is meant to calm the mind. If it doesn’t do that and you feel all over the place after class, it was not yoga.
Yes I think the definition of what yoga is and what not should be more strict.
If yoga doesn’t lead you to more awareness, if it doesn’t center you into your being, if you don’t become sensitized to your own breath, feelings and energy and the energy around you, there should not be no label of yoga on the class.
Yoga should lead you more and more inward to the true being that you are. Not to an ego-controlled ‘I like to show off – achievement mindset‘.
Patanjali also didn’t say:
Yoga = Asana. Yoga is not Asana. Everyone who knows about the eight-folded path of Patanjali knows that asana is only a very small part of the scientific path of yoga philosophy.
And the more I learn about it, the deeper I study it, the more I realize how less I know.
What I propose to you is to not buy into a superficial idea of yoga as asana. What yoga really does to you and what it opens up, you will not find in an image on Instagram, it’s not possible to show yoga in an image. It’s a practice, it’s a practical experience. And yoga has to offer to us so much more than physical practice. A complete yogic practice, should integrate a part of asana, shavasana, pranayama and meditation – under the umbrella of a specific theme.
Maybe by now you have noticed I am truly passionate about yoga, yes I truly love it. I am really much in love with it and what it had done to me and my life. It has opened me up in so many ways. Yoga has helped me to become freer of my conditioning and my limiting believes. It helped me to become an embodied being, to become more of who I truly am and less of who I think I was.
I want the same for you. I want you to realize your true divine nature and your infinite potential. I don’t want that people get turned off by yoga because they think they are not flexible enough or strong enough to do fancy poses.
If you can sit and you can breathe, you can do yoga!
Let’s practice yoga right now:
Just sit down, close your eyes and take a few deeper, conscious breaths, feel how the breath moves in and out through both of your nostrils, feel how the chest expands with every exhale, and the chest contracts with every exhale.
Follow the breath in and out a few moments. Become aware that you are not your thoughts. That the thoughts as an own entity come in and pass by in front of your minds inner eye. Feel how your witness your thoughts. Just remain silent for a few moments, and connect with that part within you that is the witness of all what’s happening. Your true you. Pure awareness itself.
How do you feel?!
Still angry? No, I am not. But I wish that yoga would be taught more skillfully and more carefully with more knowledge about the poses and what they do to us.
Now it’s raining here in Bali, but that doesn’t make me angry no, it’s soothing, it’s cozy. In one hour my next class is happening. It will be a beginners class and it will be all about the breath.
Slow. Alignment based. Spacious.
Come and join a class of mine when you are around Ubud, and experience the whole range of yoga more than just asana, experience more of what yoga holds as a gift for as.
Maybe I will be angry, maybe not, but for sure passionate for yoga, and teaching from a place of love.
With Love, Wanda