2019-04 Yoga, my thoughts of the day

I do not think I have changed much, as I continue on my path, meet other practitioners and teachers, my initial thoughts are confirmed. Things are becoming clearer and more asserted. The place of the body in yoga is important, as in any form of life. In the logic of yoga, the body is our base. Life, bad practices tend to misalign us. The beauty of the practice of physical yoga, asanas, lies in the fact that it can realign us. Asanas are also postures that push us beyond the basics, force us to improve our flexibility, strength and body awareness. It’s not relaxing, it’s hard work that allows us to go from raw to subtle. By wringing, stretching, working our bodies, we open our shoulders, our hearts, our hips and our pelvis. These openings create a space for our body to work better. By making our spine upright, stronger, we breathe better, our whole body, our brains can only benefit from this. As our strength and self-understanding grows, as we gain balance, our fears and anxieties are reduced. It helps us to calm down, reduce aggressivity and induce more compassion and understanding, to oneself and towards the other. Associated with the foundations and values of the asthanga yoga of Patanjali, every practitioner can only improve. But yoga is above all an experience, we can not learn from books or hearsay. We practice, we experiment, we use books to help us understand what we are experiencing and we are move forward with our own experience. A teacher is not here to tell us what we should feel, but how we should sit and open ourselves to our own feelings. A teacher must help put a practitioner in a posture and work in that posture in order to get the experience. A yoga teacher is not a preacher. So, details are important, the alignment is important, the correct effort and commitment are important, the use of accessories is important. When I hear the teachers say that they are not concerned with these technical aspects and that use their class to suggest states of mind and induce emotions. This is for me an induction, a practice based on belief, it is not yoga. I have experienced this with preachers and some gurus, with kundalini yoga practices and recently with yin yoga practices.
I wish to propose passive and restorative yoga in a workshop that will lead to Pranayama and meditation, so I had to learn about Yin Yoga. Some aspects of the practice are interesting, but they seem to oppose yin and yang by categorizing things, body parts, attitudes, and practices. According to my understanding, yin and yang are inter-related, they exist together and one in the other. So, again, it seems that the terminology is extracted from its original soul and used as a slogan to commercialize a small part of the global practice of Hatha Yoga, just like other sects of the incredible world of varied yoga practices.In the case of Kundalini practices that Osho worship has widely used, hyperventilation associated with worship practices can be effective. In the case of asthanga vinyasa, if the practitioner has achieved excellence in individual postures, why not perform them as a sequence, but move from one posture to another, taking one or a few breaths to feel it , could cause more damage and injury even for an advanced practitioner. In addition, as I learned recently, a naturally flexible person can enter the appearance of the posture as it should be performed, but as there is no engagement required to open the body, the person does not feel anything. In theses cases it’s possible to be just in the appearance, the benefits of the practice of yoga are not obtained. On the mental plane, these practices can also be harmful, they often induce competitiveness, relate to the achievement of a measurable goal, become a performance. Wanting to do the complete series, reach nirvana fast, risk pushing oneself beyond one’s physical limits are often on the menu of many yoga teachings. Yoga is not supposed to be to be a training session, it is supposed to be a session of deepening, a search of oneself, an interior work.I feel lucky to have met and been introduced to the BKS Iyengar methodology in my training and practice. This is in addition to my training in the Hatha Yoga tradition, which included the understanding of the 8 limbs of the Patanjali Astanga Yoga and the diversity of practices available. Teaching or progression is done step by step, consistently and neatly. This means that some practices are useless if the foundation is not fully understood or experienced. This applies to certain asanas, mudras, kriyas that are part of tantric practices. Yes, Tantra is yoga and vice versa. On the other hand, what some people call tantra is for marketing purposes and has probably nothing to do with Tantra, but its a keyword and in most cases its sullied. Some even evoke a sadhu woman encountered on a street in Varanasi who introduced them to the ritual dance of Shiva, the tandava. This dance exists in the texts and some traditional choreographies illustrate this part of the Hindu mythology. What I see and read seems to be based on beliefs, selling fantasies of occult and mystical Hinduism, mostly of erotic Hinduism based on Kama sutra, which have nothing to do with Tantra or Yoga is about eroticism, sexuality and simply pleasures.
Getting back onto yoga, my approach, my journey, I am happy to be open to the variety and richness of practices through my training. I am not bound to one lineage or another. I feed myself and I try to integrate this variety as my path unfolds before me. I do not believe in purity, I do not believe in perfection. Some Iyengar practitioners seem to be interested only in their body and seek the perfect alignment, they seem to me to be a bit rigid in their quest for perfection. Another point that concerns most specialist practitioners is that they seem to forget the basis of Patanjali’s teaching, namely non-violence and friendliness, truth and acceptance, non-attachment and non-covetousness. Understanding and accepting the law of karma is also part of the yogic tradition. The law of Karma is that action prevails in this world, that we must act with the best possible intentions while limiting our expectations. We must do it for the pleasure of doing and not for the gains that our actions could bring. As a teacher, my role is not to preach morals or values, I can only be practicing myself on my own path, living my own experiences, problems and inconsistencies. I can only share that. As a teacher, I must be able to properly guide my students on the mat and give them the opportunity to live their experience and help them understand, work and progress through their physical body. More than anything, I feel that I must give them the freedom to practice and experiment in a safe environment to share and continue their steps, one at a time.

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