December 28, 2013

Has Yoga Lost Its Spiritual Essence? ~ Steve Davies

My awakening to yoga and its principals began in 1985 under the guidance of my grandmother, who was one of the first teachers of the B.K.S. Iyengar School.

I would escape from Nottingham and London to the Cornish coast and become her muse for the weekend.

For my grandmother, our bodies defined our life histories. This was her starting point for mapping out and addressing the process of balancing. She would dowse my chakras with a pendulum and examine any level of negativity. Shiatsu, reflexology and the five elements were some of the other components that funneled into her yoga practice.

I followed her path in the belief that there are many considerations to address in order to truly benefit from the wellspring of yoga. One needs to be intuitive and honest with oneself to enable the best outcome. The real work is followed through off the mat.

I will always advocate that any form of yoga is better than none at all. The tuning of the body and mind can still be achieved by performing asanas without careful perception.

I have heard several stories of people becoming enchanted by Bikram, relating to its fast-paced intensity, discovering that they don’t have to bully their bodies and that this is the very thing they need to get away from. It does open the door.

Boxing yoga, though? Really? Poor old Ma, she’d be turning in her grave.

The point is that yoga has become a billion dollar industry and the essence of what truly matters is often lost in something that has become a brand.

Rather than forging a way forward from its spiritual origins, it is fast becoming a lifestyle that people aspire to with some inner solace.

What is largely missed is the need to look deeper at ourselves and be present in every action—to break the chain of habit and consider fresher options, rather than opting for thoughtless repetition.

It is by these means that we address a dominant ego, a destructive desire, or downward doubt. When these are stripped away we can rest with the peace that is our true essence and trust ourselves. From here we are able to really see ourselves.

Yoga and pranayama can constructively enable a healthy attitude towards others (yama) and in relation to ourselves (niyama). These relate to having a sense of responsibility, being truthful and not taking advantage and having sexual relationships based on developing higher understanding of truth, not self-gain. We need to be clean, reflective, have modest expectations and take actions that have an effect beyond our own immediate benefit.

Being true to ourselves, we can actualize our decisions from a firm foundation. For those with integrity, there is no difference between speech and action—what they say is true.

It is easy to lose ourselves in triviality that relieves us of the responsibility of life. This is human and understandable. However, when we do so, we live a life devoid of engaging with our true purpose.

A path less traveled chisels and sculpts a diamond-like soul to be valued, treasured and never stolen. Substance over style wins in the end.


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Editor: Michelle Margaret

Image: Shutterstock

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