By Steve Davies
Do I care about the future of yoga? Absolutely.
With the controversy of it becoming detached from its ancient spiritual essence? Totally. Has my current ease with where it is now been easy to find? No, absolutely not.
It has been no different to transcending my bodily restriction and discovering newfound freedom in more challenging asanas.
It’s akin to the moment you find the unity you’ve been seeking in something for so long. You reach a plateau in your development that takes your life to a whole new level.
You become one with it all. The bliss. The enlightenment.
The popularity of yoga has accelerated and fragmented over the last 25 years in a way never known since its concept. This sudden rapid growth has seen the rise of more diverse methods in style that can be interpreted as a threat for the future of yoga as it begins to orbit in a different direction, or at least that’s how it might appear.
More contemporary styles offer independent freedom and physically based structure; these are held in contempt with those from traditional schooling based on doctrine and more rigid spiritual ethics. One viewing the other as binding, outmoded and the privilege of those with sacred beliefs; the flipside seeing new young blood fostering exercise of the body as an emphasis of practice with little or time for meditation or self-reflection.
Yoga is undoubtedly a huge commercial business today and with any business conflicts of interest are bound to become apparent. How and where one chooses to go with that depends on the individual. What perhaps can be a defining judgement is the bridge that offers the individual what he or she needs at that particular moment in their life. One size does not fit all so surely choice is therefore a good thing.
We are all different, that much is clear. However within the yoga arena is a shared interest in something that has the ability to transform people on a deep metaphysical level. That’s a commonality whether you wish to acknowledge it or not.
As to how yoga may be interpreted? How it might appear to another? Why should one care? The only real relevance is what’s going on underneath.
It’s the engine under the bonnet that gets you from A to B that counts.
Whether one is aware or not, the very practice of yoga re-aligns one’s mental well being in tandem with its physical attributes—the synthesis of the body, mind and spirit and how they relate to one another. If more physical and intense forms are the start of someone’s spiritual awareness, I want to encourage that whatever.
The rest will follow. Trust and faith are the essential elements to develop that progress, not my own personal ego.
So once I’d broken down that establishment in myself, my judging of others and how they should be living their yoga, I realised how wonderful it was to be sharing this practice that knows no limits.
Yoga is the catalyst, not me.
Sure I’m still serious about yoga, but I want to be joyful about it too. I want to embrace that notion with open arms and encourage more to that thought.
As for the future of yoga? That’s another person’s journey.
Steve Davies is a practicing Buddhist, yogi, photographer and writer. He seeks unity in diversity and is an advocate for keeping things real. With the help of other yogis he documented a photographic project entitled ‘Urban Yoga’ that shares the values of the above article. To view this and discover more about him visit his website: www.innerfocus.co.uk
Editor: Dana Gornall