Why yoga is not what you think it is

Just now, as I was driving home from teaching my Vinyasa Flow yoga class, I was marveling at the “yoga high” that I and my students experienced and some of the open hearted conversations that came from it. It lead me to think about the (multiple) benefit(s) of yoga and how and why it began. As a good English major and journalism minor University graduate (should University be capitalized? ;), I wanted to do a bit of yoga history research to back up my idea for this blog. What I found was VERY interesting and my intention for this post went from “yoga was created to exercise and move the bodies of early Indian philosophical scholars, perfect for our mostly sedentary society today” to “the yoga that we know today looks NOTHING like what those early Indians started thousands of years ago and in fact, they probably wouldn’t even recognize what we do as yoga!”

The asana (the physical poses of yoga) practice that we do in yoga classes today was a minuscule part of early yoga. The 15th century book Hatha Yoga Pradipika outlines 15 yoga asana poses. That’s all: 15! The asana practice we know today was nearly never the focus for early students and it looked nothing like what we do now. Today’s yoga was developed from a melting-pot mixture of a 19th-century Scandinavian gymnastics program that served as the foundation for physical training in armies, navies, and schools, the 20th-century Danish system called Primitive Gymnastics, the desire of the early 20th century world, and India in particular, to gain national independence and in their minds this equated to stronger bodies in case a war broke out against colonizers, and a man named T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) who created a dynamic asana practice, intended mainly for India’s kids, that was a blend of hatha yoga, wrestling exercises, and modern Western gymnastic movement.

The yoga we know today is unlike anything ever seen before in (yoga) history; it’s a complete hybrid of tradition and innovation that demonstrates a God who cares deeply about (all) people and desperately wants to invade our everyday life. Yoga began with a focus on pranayama (breathing practices), dharana (mental strengthening), and nada (sound), and did not have many health or fitness aspects. The “yoga high” that I was referring to from this morning’s class, is a physical manifestation of the Great Spirit invading our physical beings. We are triune beings and as we continue to erase the lines between our body, mind, and spirit and put our full-self into purposeful activity (life), our experiences on plant earth will match our heavenly reality all the more. What a “high” it is.

If you want to read more about the history of yoga check out: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2610

Namaste!

Bali Day 7 Video: the 8 limbs of yoga

Here’s a description of the 8 limbs of yoga and my brief thoughts on the teaching from today. Honestly, now that I’ve sat with them for a little bit, talked them through with the instructor, one of my roommates, God, and mulled it over a bit, they really aren’t that “out there.” These 8 limbs are some of the very things I have done in my Christian life to deepen my relationship with the Lord, but the names are just different. Probably the only things I have seen missing from the organized Christian experience is the physical aspect (asana) of bringing awareness to our body and the breathing practices. Otherwise, these other “limbs” I have done through my church and while attending the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in particular.

To summarize today’s teaching about them: the 8 limbs of yoga are a way of living, a practical application of one’s belief’s, designed to bring more awareness into your body and your mind.

I hope that you experience a greater joy, a deepening of unity with the Lord, an ecstasy, and consciousness that is heavenly. It’s what we were designed to walk out on this earth from the very beginning and what Jesus advised us to pray in the Lord’s prayer: “your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Namaste!