Yoga: A Spiritual Practice – Part I

Today, in our modern Western culture, yoga is everywhere! The term conjures varying images in people’s minds; some think of isolated bearded “gurus” sitting in the famous lotus pose (cross-legged with feet drawn in to rest against the top of the thighs), somewhat unaffected by reality, while others often associate yoga with matters relating to health, longevity and fitness.  Due to yoga classes being offered so freely in the West, it has somewhat become commoditised and lost its true meaning.

It is difficult to neatly define yoga within the boundaries of traditional Western maxims.  In the West, many view yoga as a collection of physical exercises that bring health, vigour and even cure illness. Although these are certainly some of the physical benefits of practicing yoga, it is its spiritual end that is too often, if not always, divorced, where the tendency is to reduce yoga to nothing more than a sport, physical discipline or therapy.  Another misconception is that yoga is an abstract, godless mysticism embraced by pagans and hippies which leads one to artificial isolation where one is somewhat out of touch with daily life.  A correct understanding of yoga can be described as a way to spiritual liberation that demands a concrete arrangement of feelings and actions.

So what makes yoga authentic? How do you know that you are receiving the correct discipline, practices and theory being passed onto you from your yoga teacher?

“…yoga is a path to undo the root of all types of misery through the direct experience of deep, clear, open awareness.”

~ Richard Freeman

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