Prashant Iyengar is always reminding us, urging us to understand that what we do in the west isn’t really yoga, it’s what he calls yogaaaaaa not yog.
The popularization of yoga has brought millions of people to the practice of asana. And because of that, lives have been improved for the better. Sure can’t argue with that. But there has been something lost in order to spread the benefits.
Yoga is a spiritual practice. Yoga teaches us awareness. The original gurus who brought yoga to the west taught us what they felt we could understand and knew that the deeper meanings would rise to the surface.
As westerners we are obsessed with working out, being fit, losing weight, achieving goals, mastering things quickly and so on. Some of those, external goals serve us well and we do feel better. Honestly, I started yoga for a pain I had in my shoulder and added it to my “work-out” schedule. I wanted to sweat and be exhausted. I was not at all interested in anything spiritual or religious or certainly not any of those chants. But despite myself and all my obstacles, the practice chipped away so that it became what Prashant says a work-in not a work-out.
There is no doubt that whether you are into it or not the effects of yoga go way beyond muscles and bones. But its real purpose is to “move from the known (the body) to the unknown.” BKS Iyengar. The practice, if taught with this intention and connected to the roots of the practice, will lead you deeper within because that’s its purpose, to lead and guide you to move past all the distractions to understand your real self.
If you go to yoga for the work-out you will gain benefit but if you open your mind to its benefits to be a you will transform.