Yoga is difficult to define, the term is so widely used, borrowing from cultural appropriation and mysticism.
Each person should have the necessary tools to find their way without losing their freedom or their autonomy. I want to help find and make available some of these tools.
Attachment, demonstration and ego are said to be contrary to yoga. Teachers or schools that promote attachment, base their practices on demonstration and use yoga to develop a ‘following’, do not seem to be consistent with the name they give themselves and perhaps to teaching that they are supposed to propose.
The physical aspect is a key part of the Hatha Yoga system, a practice of postures, the ‘Asanas’. This Hatha Yoga is a practice that has been formalized in a treaty. This treatise, hatha yoga pradipika (15th century), is a presentation of postures, the “Asanas”, breathing exercises, the “Pranayama”, the energy centers, the “Chakras”. Tantra is related to Sivaism, a strict and framed devotional practice. Some dimensions are not accessible through Hatha Yoga alone, probably not to people who do not include all the practices and rituals without forgetting the very nature of tantra, Hinduism.
Tantra is therefore one of the sources of ‘modern’ yoga which developed at the beginning of the 20th century , the one that is taught today under various names (ashtanga, vinyasa, kundalini, bikram, iyengar ….), oriental philosophies, awareness, western gymnastic practices (Swedish gym, aerobics, pilates … ) also have cross influences with what we like to commonly call YOGA.
In our ‘modern’ practices, we must be careful not to distort the mystical dimension while respecting its origins. We can undoubtedly benefit from some of the effects and benefits of the practices.
Personally, I recommend that it is better to keep our feet on the ground, not to add appropriations of all kinds, this risks taking us towards a world strongly influenced by belief, external influence, we then risk to lose our contact with our experience, our personal feelings, our freedom, it is unique and belongs to each practitioner.
If desired, one can use the practice of yoga asanas to influence daily life, integrate philosophical dimensions, be inspired by them, one can also just practice asanas.
Yoga as a lifestyle, hygiene of life, philosophy: the field is vast. It is up to each individual to understand and live their own experience, whether it is limited to asanas on the mat, or whether it grows larger.
Beware of influences, mysticism, cultural appropriations and loss of bearings.
It is probably then time to start reading the Yoga Sutra, the Bhagavad gita and the Upanishads to better understand these sources, influences, references.
These ancient texts are translated and therefore subject to interpretation. It seems essential to understand that the ‘original’ yoga is undoubtedly pre-Vedic and therefore pre-Hindu and that it is undoubtedly related to the practices in which the Budha and the Jain monks were initiated. The Hindu religion to recover elements and to create a yoga which is integrated in its religious beliefs, and we Westerners have also influenced the development of ‘modern’ yoga a lot. The texts of the Bhagavad Gitta and the Upanishads, are texts which are influenced by Brahmanism and the Hindu religion. The Hindu nationalist current denies any other influence or origin, and is in this sense, is in contradiction with the origin of Yoga. *
It is important to try to de-mystify all of this to be aware of the fact that one can easily get caught up in a cultural appropriation and a mystical approach that in fact has nothing to do with ‘original’ yoga. You have to be honest and accept that all the proposed practices are modern; they are a series of warm-up exercises, stretching, muscle strengthening, breathing and body awareness.
My teaching is that of asanas, series of postures with a focus on alignment. I also incorporate other sources of knowledge and expertise of the functioning of the physical body to try and give the best approach to shaping the physical body while doing my best to avoid injury.
My practice of asanas is not a demonstration, it is not a series of exteriorizing exercises, it is an interiorizing work to better understand the outside world. However, there are times when I want to do some acrobatics too and to surpass myself physically.
My yoga, I wish it was a toolbox, I use it to go towards more freedom, more strength, more happiness, more understanding of who I am; a way to find more clarity and peace.
Personally, it is obvious that I am under Indian and Eastern influence, I try my best not to be in cultural appropriation, by studying these cultures and philosophies and looking within myself for what is coherent and resonates.
I also offer courses, special sessions in phase with the lunar cycles, as well as workshops that complement the practice of asanas. I was also organizing and facilitating yoga retreats in India. This ‘Indian’ activity is now over, and I am currently investing in a project to create a space to live, share and retreat, an associative place – ‘The Queer Ashram Project’
Being an experienced and recognized massage therapist in Ayurveda, Kalari and Thai massage techniques. I offer massage workshops and “master classes” to learn the techniques and practice these varieties of massage styles.
For those who wish to receive a massage from me, my dedicated website is here
Audio extracts from a lesson on the Ishavasya Upanishad by Sidartha Khrisna*
*of Indo-Western culture, Sidharta Khrisna trained at Kailash Ashram, he has fully integrated the hindu religion but has, in my opinion, a pragmatic and interesting approach
- “Today in the West, the Yoga Sutra is presented from the perspective of these other treatises and practices: it has become ‘eight limb yoga.’ Let us repeat that modern postural yoga, as Mr. Singleton (2010), is not a ‘traditional’ practice, but a collective invention of the moderns of the early twentieth century, many of whom are not Indians. This does not prejudge the quality of this ‘yoga’; on the other hand, this explains the twisting of ancient texts alleged to give these practices a textual authority. Indians have known how to espouse and exploit the desires of Westerners in search of spiritual exoticism. ” (The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Introduction Page 95 – Michel Angot, Les belles lettres)
- The ontology of the Bhagavad Gita is not that of the Yoga Sutra, but the words are clear; quite clearly, they say that yoga consists in leaving the realm ruled by the Vedas, which, outside their realm, are perfectly unnecessary. Precisely, it is this area that interests Patanjali: would he even know the Vedas that he would not have to mention them and that he could not use them. “(The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Introduction Page 107 – Michel Angot, Les belles lettres)