February 17, 2012

Back to Yoga Basics. ~ Rachel Hanberry

The yoga news scandals seem to be spiralling out of control at the moment.

I have to admit I get tempted to join the debate or the argument and spend time labouring my point, my ideas and my ideals. I feel the anger building in my chest at controversial news articles, I want to stand up for what I believe yoga to be and to quash dumbfounded statements. And then, I meditate. I take a step back, watch my thoughts, release myself from the emotions that they precipitate and the answers start to flow.

Over the past few weeks I have read news features on how yoga can harm you, one paper even went as far as to say that it can kill you, I have read about the debate surrounding regulation of yoga, and now the gossip from the Anusara yoga school.

Surely these scandals are the Maya of our modern world, a distraction to keep us from seeing the bigger picture.

And as the debate livens up and more and more people comment, we walk further and further from our ultimate goal. As a yogini I am on a path towards spiritual enlightenment and I am sure most yogis out there are following that same path. Spiritual enlightenment will not be found in a set of yogic regulations or accreditation’s. As a yoga teacher I have been trained to adapt, adjust and accommodate and to not think that the yoga that I teach is “mine” but to recognise that I am merely passing on what I have learnt from my Swami, the ancient yogic teachings and way of life.

It seems to me that if I act from a point of view that is without ego, maintaining my goal of spiritual enlightenment then I am on the right track. Issues such as regulation of yoga, good teachers, bad teachers and the harm that you can do to yourself when practising yoga all seem irrelevant. I can argue until I am blue in the face about all these things, however ultimately I will have wasted time and precious energy on emotions and thoughts that will have distracted me from my goal. I imagine that many Swamis throughout their lifetimes have had to deal with similar issues, however it is the way that they dealt with them that counts.

And so it is with this in mind that I urge you all as a yoga community to just let it go and to not rise to these sensationalist headlines, news stories, scandals and egos. Swami Sivananda stated that, “The aim of all yoga practice is to achieve truth wherein the individual soul identifies itself with the Supreme Spirit or God. Beyond the ever-changing consciousness of mind and intellect there is a changeless formless spirit which is unaffected by anything and which is veiled by the individual according to his or her stage of evolution.”

Let’s see through this veil and get back the real aim of our yoga practice.

Om namah siyava.

Photo credit: Yes/No

Rachel Hanberry is a yoga teacher living in the South West of France on the coast in Biscarrosse Plage with my husband, my dog Charlie and my cat Luna.  I teach yoga on the beach whenever it is warm enough, the shot below was taken on Christmas Eve 2011. I love the ocean and hearing the crash of the waves as I practice. I trained at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram near Paris and I currently teach in French and English.  I teach children, pregnant ladies, surfers, anyone really who expresses an interest! Om shanti.    

Edited by Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor

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