Is modern Yoga destroying Yoga?
The current 'yoga' scene makes me want to cry. It makes me feel so out of sync with what I believe the rhythms of the practice should be.
There's been many times over the past year that I wanted to let go of the sharing of the practice. I walked away from beautiful studios and let go of spaces that really filled my heart. On the surface it seemed absurd, but I was following instinct rather than intellect.
I was ready to walk away from it all.
Competition, criticism, isolation, judgement; and this was just from other facilitators. I was coming to see that all was an illusion. That the modern world of technology, of Ego, of learning/doing/knowing/teaching MORE was more important.
I'll never ever give up my personal practice. This medicine has pulled me from dark moments and situations where I was lost and at a loss.
But 'teaching' isn't for me. 'Facilitating?' Yes. But not 'teaching'.
And I've grown wary of it all. The in-fighting of studios, the IG images that frame how everyone and everything should look; this ideal of each pose/teacher/studio, all the judgement, the 'correctness' of how people believe a studio 'should' be.
What really triggered me though was recently observing my sister have someone who has never practiced the practice (let alone her practice) perch in a spot at the back of class and write down 'the order of poses' taught. They didn't participate or experience the flavour and depth of the class, the transference of energy. They just sat and wrote a series of shapes; like Yoga is all about the pose. And why? To see whether they wanted or were able to 'teach' Yoga.
This, for me, was a breaking point.
Yoga is a potent potion.
I personally love the modern flow of Yoga; the different styles that play with modern anatomical knowledge, taking it 'out of the box' and exploring whether the root postures are damaging or not. These practices are absolutely valid. The technology of Yoga has to adapt to modern times in order to ensure that it is still valid in today's world.
That's not the issue.
Yoga is a potent practice. People are working (consciously or otherwise) on a very deep level with the energy body. The practice has to be known and practiced by the facilitator.
Yoga is not a pose.
When I applied for my first 200-hour training, I was blessed to have a divine teacher who had been practicing in a lineage that I too had followed. My mentor was adamant that she would not accept anyone onto her training unless they had been practicing for at least 3 years straight, had self-practice, they had met with her, practiced at least three times under her guidance and had a commitment to each of the eight tenets of Yoga. It was not simply pay your fee and attend a course and that's it. Over the next ten months, a group of us practiced under her gentle but firm guidance and the practice changed us forever.
Some of these trainings still exist.
But it's obvious that there are many different kinds of yoga trainings available now. And some don't even require any previous practice. A 2-day course and you're equipped to call yourself a 'Yoga Teacher'.
The modern world is all about wanting information/change/resource NOW. Immediately. We can Google/Wikipedia/Social Media anything and we get all the information imaginable.
Tell someone that they need to practice something consistently for three years straight and prove their passion for it by explaining literature, theory and their understanding of the practice, and they'll likely run a mile. Unless they are genuine with their intention.
I am uninterested in learning anything from anybody unless they truly had (ideally still have) a passion for it.
So my heart sank. Because I've been avoiding it for a while now. This feeling that modern Yoga is more about how it looks than what it is.
In that moment when I considered that someone was writing krama (sequence) without any understanding of it, I realised that this is what the world of Yoga is becoming.
In that moment; that someone could witness such a naturally gifted facilitator use years and years of her experience, her struggles, her growth, to help craft some space for genuine flow to occur, and yet the observer chose to write the illusion of shapes, rather than participate and feel the flavours instead...and then consider whether they could teach this practice?
That. I've got issues with that.
Because someone can cause extreme damage if they misunderstand what they are working with.
Keira and I reflected on the situation. It's her intention to continue as she deeply hopes that light overcomes darkness. And that there are facilitators out there genuinely making a difference. Teaching authentically. With intelligence and understanding for what is involved.
I'm not so certain.
But there's always this deep spiritual feeling that we're on the right path. In a world that makes no sense, this is the only thing that feels 'right'. We help to make small invisible changes, undoing deep patterns, and helping others explore the practice.
If you've read this far, what I think I'm trying to say is this:
Yoga is a deep practice that has the power to change people's lives. That allows them to change habitual patterns and start creating a conscious life, rather than sleepwalking through it all.
That this practice is deep.
You can't teach it.
And you can only share it if you are authentically affected by it.
And that you should never ever sit in the back of a yoga session, especially without the facilitator's (and students') express permission. Particularly writing down a sequence. Because here is a vulnerable space where magic can happen. And to sit with pen in hand writing down whatever it is you want to call the shapes, is not only distracting for all involved, but it is proof that you are not equipped to teach the practice.
Because a real yogi knows the work has to be done/explored/felt/sensed.
And a real yogi keeps humble.
These are just my thoughts at this time. They may change, but I doubt it.
Modernity is failing us on many levels...
But let's not allow Yoga to become gymnastics in expensive leggings.