We live in a time when the term “Yoga” is generally misunderstood. We get the impression that Yoga is something foreign to our innate nature that is difficult to practice and which does not concern the common man. This perception is completely wrong. Yoga is in fact very simple and it is at the very heart of our existence, stemming, as it does, from life’s very roots. Because of ill-conceived ideas, theories and erroneous actions, “true” Yoga finds itself either neglected or rejected, by a large number of people. True Yoga is tied to the creation of humanity. It helps us find the original source of our creation and allows us to remain at one with that source. In our current “New Age”, teaching yoga has been adapted to conform to modern Western academic processes and structures. It is now possible to get diplomas in yoga after a few days, weeks or months of study. There is no need to practice. One simply needs to pass a few written tests, learn a few Sanskrit words. Some even go as far as creating new buzzwords and trade marking “new” techniques. In addition, online courses are now available and more are springing up. The internet abounds with incredible amounts of useless and potentially damaging ideas, as well as providing a source for some authors to vacuum up whatever they find, compile and publish as a book of course.
The lack of real experience and achievement in Yoga and realization is resulting in new spiritual techniques being created on a regular basis. Almost every town has a spiritual supermarket and each technique promises much. On the other hand, there are tribal communities living in many parts of the world. These people have no formal education or qualifications and yet by the nature of their existence, practice and direct perception, they understand Yoga intimately and are highly realized. An intellectual approach to learning Yoga will only yield an intellectual understanding and this is insufficient to realize Yoga and to teach others. Learning and practicing yoga starts and continues with discipline, perseverance, humility, continual practice and self-mastery. A teacher cannot teach others using their own material/emotional/physical experience as a reference point for advising others as this would never be an empirical, non-dual reference point. The teacher’s reference point must be beyond duality i.e. the teacher needs to be realized. The blind cannot lead the blind. Another unfortunate outcome of such approaches may be that the participant begins to believe that he or she is particularly advanced or perhaps even an
Angel or prophet who has come down to Earth to help people, or tragic-comically, to help God spread His word! Such beliefs are firmly grounded in the fertile soil of the ego and the mind’s imaginations. The real tragedy is that in trying out useless or wrong techniques, people end up rejecting authentic yoga. Furthermore, yoga and meditation end up being critiqued or sidelined rather than being questioned, explored logically and practiced. Yoga is a very profound science, above and beyond all religions and dogmas. In the same way that children play at being mothers or fathers without having any idea about what being a mother or a father is truly like, so also the game of religion is played without really knowing what spirituality is. Real yoga gives us direct access to authentic spirituality because yoga is based on life force (prana shakti) which, simply put, means breath.