It has been over a year since my last post. If this blog were a house in the country, it would have been taken over by the ivy in the corner, the weed at the bottom of the steps long ago. The blog looks abandoned but I have not abandon it.
Writing down thoughts requires some certainty and some argument that the writer can support. When I used to write more about yoga, even if I did not post here, I did have a general idea as to my views on yoga, what my yoga practice should/ ought to look like and I did have a few people that I could draw ideas from which to develop my own opinions.
It is not like I used to take all of it in and not question but this last year or so has been quite different. I am no longer sure about anything in yoga practice, politics and economics of yoga. There is a huge tangled knot in my head about yoga practice, other types of exercise and the content and my preferred method of teaching yoga. The longer I waited for it to dissolve or transform into some kind of new perspective, the more confused I am getting. So, I have decided to come back to writing even if what I write sounds less sure, more searching, even more argumentative, and maybe a little bit judgmental of others and myself.
So, I have not been lazy, I have been “or what!” I have been reading and thinking a lot on yoga and on other related topics. I shall try to figure out what confuses and blows me away from my yoga practice.
These days yoga classes are fantastic, yoga workshops are splendid, the experience of yoga is divine, the yoga people you meet are magnificent, the flow is sensational, the smell of the food is out of this world, the mats are excellent, the tea, well, of course it is what yoga gods drink, the mat cleaning spray is simply mega, the shoe rack at the shala is breathtaking… Boy! FFS! Can’t we just do yoga, teach classes, workshops and let others decide what it was they felt or thought about the whole thing, after the thing has actually happened.
I don’t think any particular movement or yoga pose is inherently dangerous, but I do think that certain movements or yoga poses can be dangerous if done carelessly and mindlessly. Each asana is a challenge to contort the body, and therefore the mind, and some more than others. I’ve been reading about the demonisation of salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and salamba sirsasana (supported headstand) for a while now and I fail to understand the particular problem with these poses. Meanwhile, I don’t see anyone talking about the dangers of super deep back bends, arm balances, or nasty twists, not to mention handstands. If anything, I have to scroll through numerous handstand photographs on Instagram or Facebook! But no-one is writing blogs about how they stopped teaching chaturanga dandasana or phalankasana because the shoulders and wrists have to carry a lot of weight and might easily get injured, instead we talk about the ways to perform such poses safely. Although, one obvious reason for this maybe the relative importance the neck and the head compared with the wrists and the shoulders!
Yoga has never been more popular in the West and one type of yoga prevails above others, namely Hatha yoga in the form of Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga Vinyasa etc. Hatha yoga is distinguished from other types of yoga by its emphasis on asana more than the other practices in the yoga tradition. It is, naturally and inevitably, being transformed and assimilated into a Western style. Yoga in the West has been transformed since the 60s-70s but as practicing yoga became more and more popular and accessible to wider group of practitioners, it is difficult to talk about a unified understanding of its practice.
I recently read an interview with someone who just came back from India*. The interview had a long account of the differences between the Yoga in India and the Yoga in the West. One of the differences mentioned was the habits to do with where people do yoga and what they wear whilst doing it. Needless to say, yogis in India do yoga whereever they like and in what ever they feel comfortable, in stark opposition to where we, in the West do yoga and in what we do yoga.