The word yoga originates from the Sanskrit word “Yug” which means to join or to unite. But this union has nothing to do with your hands touching your toes or your nose touching your knees. This union also has nothing to do with the unification of the mind, body and soul. The union that yoga refers to is the uniting of the individual consciousness (the experiences of the reality faced by an individual) with the divine consciousness.
Similar to various other art forms and sciences which are powerful, beautiful and profound, yoga too has suffered from the spiritual poverty of the modern world. It won’t be wrong to say that it has been watered down, depreciated and reduced to clichés. The pure, eternal and deep essence of yoga is being misinterpreted and then used by people for their personal profit. It is very unfortunate to say that yoga has majorly been reduced to the status of just another form of exercise. To put it in other words, yoga in the modern world is being represented as a cult which is aimed at attracting “followers”. A bubble of confusion has been created around the pure and simple concept of yoga that it has become utterly crucial to redefine this ancient practice and bring out its true meaning and purpose.
In its true sense, yoga is a complete system of which the asanas or postures are a small but useful part of. Yoga is referred to the entire process and not just the asanas or postures. As per the ancient sages, the entire purpose of yoga is spiritual in nature and not physical. But in the modern era, yoga is all about the postures and poses. The importance of asanas has elevated to the extent where people have started believing that the word “yoga” refers to the poses, the ultimate goal of which is to acquire physical fitness. The understanding of yoga as a whole is being misunderstood by the people and is misleading and confusing to great extremities.
When we look at it, yoga in the modern world is a very dynamic yet stagnant topic. So many modifications and developments are being made in the yoga “industry” but at the end, it is all about the yoga poses and postures aimed at improving just the physical self and not about the practice which aims atenhancing both the physical as well as the spiritual self. Looking back into history we see the constant struggles and achievements of mankind. Historically, yoga has assisted man to reach places beyond their current scope of consciousness and has guided the way to a harmonious living. Yoga in the modern world is a practice to bring one into self, increasing awareness and uniting aspects of life, giving an understanding that results in a humbling of the soul thus moving our species forward. Today, yoga plays the role of a physical workout, providing an exercise practice that often results in a calming of the mind. It also plays a part in building communities, which work together to build up themselves and each other, while also expanding to do good for those around them.
Modern day yoga is indeed a physical practice. With the help of physicality and focused attention, the mind begins to quiet and settle, allowing it to expand into the cracks that have opened. Krishnamacharya has a major influence on what Yoga in India
and around the world is today. His approach to the practice as both a physical and spiritual means paved the way for the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as what is to follow. Yoga is a lifestyle that encompasses overall well being through diet, exercise, and prayer. Religion was not an issue with Krishnamacharya, as he was someone who gave rise to sheer human-to-human connection and respect. With the help of mindful action or inaction, we begin to go deeper into the body and mind, understanding the opposing forces of the universe that exist within each one of us. Through the teachings of yoga, the modern man begins to separate emotion from thought and the actual form. The ego fades as one focuses on the breath. As the breath continues to flow, so do the movements, opening up the body allowing it to be vulnerable to the cosmos, giving rise to a direct channel to our higher power. The voice of the gods, of our DNA, slowly seeps into realms we can palpate, giving us guidance to begin to heal ourselves of diseases which manifest us in infinite ways.
Yoga in the modern world has become a poetic exercise and a workout routine for many. It is a fast-growing trend. At various yoga teacher training
centers and yoga school
, teachers are being manufactured left and right, playing a role as fitness instructors and not necessarily spiritual guides. While this can be frustrating at first glance, it is simply where some are in their practice and as a whole, which is to be respected. We are all in different stages of our lives. Yoga is bigger than all of us and more complex than what words are able to express. It works in magical, mysterious ways. Practicing yoga without awareness or intention of expanding one's consciousness can still act as a catalyst. Yoga practice promotes positive change in individuals that in turn positively impacts the world. During these yogic workouts, the heat may be turned up, as limits are tested and boundaries are pushed.
Holding postures for extended periods of time or quickly moving between active postures, while maintaining poise and grace trains the mind to perform through adversity. While in some ways yoga has strayed from its roots, in the modern world it is still mentally and physically challenging, teaching lessons that flow into the day to day life. There are many different styles out there to choose from, each of which offers something unique while sharing a common thread. Different theories and approaches gain followings, and it is up to the individual to discover what it is they are truly after.
Following behind the different styles of yoga (Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, Ashtanga, etc.) are groups of people that have been impacted by a particular yogic experience. There are many different avenues one can go take, all pointing to the same source i.e. yoga. Yoga school
, studios, churches, temples, gymnasiums, and the internet are all excellent means to become familiar with the practice so one can carry on a home practice. Or for those who are more interested in knowing the ancient practice from a deeper perspective can join a Yoga Teacher Training
course. Yoga comes with different price tags and different t-shirts. Yoga has become a means for people to come together to practice working on oneself, in a safe environment. Often times this will result in competition among students and with the self. Whether it is competing for the nicest accessories or yoga outfit, or trying an advanced pose, the friendly competition builds comradery amongst those who practice. As yoga becomes a “normal” thing amongst people, the judgments and preconceived notions about what yoga is fall to the wayside, allowing those once closed off to become receptive. When the student is ready, the teacher will come. I believe we are meant for exactly what we receive, and the momentum of the yoga philosophy will continue to grow organically, as well as other natural healing modalities. The universe will continue to bring us, leaders, as our species silently calls for them. The true practice is not an easy task mentally, physically, or spiritually.
Yoga in the modern world provides a means to bringmindful movement and meditation in the lives of everyday people, ultimately raising the collective consciousness, allowing us to transcend as a species into the next realm. We are aware of what destruction we are capable of, but do we truly know what creation we are also capable of? With the help of yoga, the modern man, who is considered to be advanced and continuously evolving, will continue to reach new heights. The potential is profound. As yoga seeps more and more into the lives of the youth, this potential grows exponentially. The popularization of yoga assists in breaking some stigmas while creating some new ones, but overall preaching a positive message to the community, promoting personal growth. As our walls begin to loosen and crumble, we can become aware and in tune with our true inner nature. From this place, love will flow, giving rise to harmonious and abundant lives, ebbing and flowing with the rhythms of life, ready for whatever is yet to come. But if people open up their mind a little more and start looking at yoga from a larger perspective, they will be able to benefit from it both on a physical as well as spiritual level.