NB: And reading it back now it's still confused and muddled and doesn't get to the bottom of what concerns me ( and may even make the argument for both) but perhaps it's a start and you have the same worries or have perhaps addressed and overcome them.
So I find myself botherd by two expressions as I start the new year.
'Contemporary Yoga Culture'
They either bother, disturb, depress and/or slightly bemuse me... perhaps a little of each.
But I'm not exactly sure why.
'Contemporary Yoga Culture'
'If it didn't exist, a social/cultural Anthropologist somewhere would have to invent it'.
(with respect to Social/Cultural Anthropology... some of my best friends are Social/cultural Anthropologists, no really).
Contemporary Yoga Culture. Is there such a thing? That's the one that depresses me.
I came across a post called Top fifteen yoga posts of 2012, something like that. There were fifteen posts from fifteen blogs, I'd only ever visited one of the blogs before and that was Yogadork when the whole John Friend story broke ( he's back by the way, 'Sigh'), oh and the Kausthub story too ( I know, how much longer before he tries to come back also? 'groan'). Anyway, one of the blogs had a subtitle 'Contemporary Yoga Culture', I left right away.
I'm sure it's an excellent blog, all of them probably are but I'm a little bemused by the idea of Contemporary Yoga Culture....perhaps I'm in denial.
It strikes me that every time yoga has developed a culture around it then it was probably an indication that Yoga had lost it's way somewhat.
Bugger, I'm accepting the idea of the possibility of a culture forming around a Yoga Practice, there goes my argument... just pretend you didn't read that bit and allow me my rant.
Is it an American thing? Is there a World Contemporary Yoga Culture, A Western Contemporary Yoga Culture or do we split it into Contemporary European Yoga Culture, North American Contemporary Yoga Culture....Australasian Contemporary Yoga Culture......come to think of it is there an Indian Contemporary Yoga Culture?
Of course I could just read the blogs, the couple of self published books floating around written from within said Contemporary Yoga Culture where Contemporary yoga Culture reflects upon itself.
This has, of course, always been an important question for the social scientist, as they tend to be the first to admit. The problem of reflection, reflecting on your own reflection, is that it has the propensity to change what you see and what is seen ( or does it, discuss in X-ology 101). Is there a Contemporary Yoga Culture or does writing about it create/form one ( allowing more books to be written about it, which in turn...well you get the idea).
Is there anyone from outside the Contemporary Yoga Culture writing about the Contemporary Yoga Culture?
I still tend to feel that yoga is a solitary practice ( but then I would, I practice at home and
When I first started blogging I was determined to keep my Philosophy background right out of it, though I did actually start a blog at one point called Heidegger and Yoga, deleted it after a couple of posts in disgust.
Just because a few of us blog about our practice that doesn't mean we have a yoga culture, we're just chattin' right? Don't tell me there's a yoga-blogging culture too.
Update: Perhaps it's time to reconsider this blogging lark yet again.
I suppose I should look into this more, try to work out why it bothers me so much but I think I prefer to dig a very large hole and stick my head in it.
See also this update to this post
I struggle with this too, though for different reasons. It doesn't disturb or bother me in the same way that the idea of Contemporary Yoga Culture does but it makes me uncomfortable all the same.
And I hesitate to write about it as I know it's an area of interest for my own teacher Ramaswami, he's presenting a module on, it in fact, on his next UK workshop.
Some of my best yoga friends are Yoga therapists, no really.
People went to visit Krishnamacharya of course with all kinds of ailments and complaints, some he could help directly others he employed a somewhat placebo effect to give some degree of comfort. Yoga therapy has been an aspect of the tradition for some time it seems.
I'm sure we all tend to think that Yoga is pretty good for us despite the distasteful sensationalism Broad comes up with to shill his book ( hopefully someone will come up with a similar book reminding us to take care in our practice and yet promote it with somewhat more dignity....whether we would sit up and listen of course....).
I think my practice is good for me, there's much about it that seems to make sense. I'm sure it probably is good for blood circulation, that the twists and binds are good for the internal organs, that all the variations of postures can stimulate every inch of the body...
I encourage you to practice it, I think you'll feel better for it.
But that's not why I practice, it's a bonus that I don't think about too much.
I practice yoga to develop my focus and concentration.
I'm not seeking Kaivalya. I'll settle for improved focus and attention, an undistracted internal gaze, composed self reflection ( see problems with self reflection above). Of course, should I attain some measure of ekagrata then I'll worry about where to direct it and start thinking about Kaivalya perhaps, baby steps.
The argument is that focus and concentration comes from a calm, stress free, emotionally balanced and physically healthy environment. That environment being me.
How did that therapy focus come about, how did it go from Krishnamachrya helping those who came to visit him turn into KYM, KHYF and the likes of Yoga therapy Rx. Btw Larry Payne who I believe set up the Yoga Therapy Rx course also taught the business element of my TT course at LMU ( loved that Ramaswami had no interest in teaching a Business class).
Why did Desikachar and Mohan end up focussing on the Therapy aspect?
But then Ramaswami thinks it is one of the more neglected aspects of Krishnamachary'a teaching. he says in the excellent Wild Yogi interview
"Q: Which part of Krishnamacharya's teachings is least explored?
SR: I think therapeutic applications of his teachings. His Chikitsa Krama.
But then, I think more than giving simple movements or exercises to
people, I think his approach to the Six Koshas is very important. It
is not therapeutic application, it is more fundamental. This is
something you can find in Yoga Rahasya, he mentions these things. In
Yoga Makaranda, see the kind of importance given to Pranayama, and
also Bandhas, the inversions – few things that are unique to Yoga.
They have to be put in a way, so that ordinary people will be able to
appreciate things that could happen – rather than talk about chakras,
and some of those things which are very difficult to explain. But you
have to quantify it. The only reason why it is not brought about, is
that we have to validate all those things. Once validated, it will
become very popular, I am sure. It is quite logical. It will be quite
useful. More people will do Pranayama, more people will do the
Bandhas, headstand, shoulderstand, more people will meditate. My wife
is a doctor – she says they appear medically sound. Only thing is –
she says, it will be better if you can validate it".
Wild Yogi interview with Srivatsa Ramaswami
We practice Asana to become reasonably fit and healthy, pranayama to address the stress of daily life and pratyahara to avoid distractions... We're working towards that more satvic, calm, state for our meditation practice.
Is that Yoga Therapy?
Does it need to be a separate discipline? These things are self-perpetuating, self-creating, what starts as a side aspect of practice becomes the main focus of practice and teaching.
But then if you have a particular condition that gives you a lot of pain and discomfort, perhaps certain postures are better than others. And some pranayama's might be better than others to help with some emotional trauma, a strong pratyahara element for a distracted mind consumed with worries...
I can kind of see it I really can, and yet...
It's the dwelling on the therapy aspect that bothers me...see it does bother me, I said it didn't. Yoga Therapist's it's a term that disturbs me more than Contemporary Yoga Culture, it's more worrying because it's more open to abuse.
An not just the emotional and sexual abuse of somebody like Kausthub Desikachar but the abuse of Yoga when it becomes a commodity ( I just heard a number of voices in my head saying it already has).
I'm not getting there am I, not getting to the bottom of what bothers me about this.... I can see that yoga has therapeutic value, I respect those who want to help others rather than just stay on their mat and practice.
It's the image I have of a sign on a door that reads Yoga Therapist that depresses me.
|Screenshot from a local yoga therapist googlesearch|
How did Yoga Therapy become a part of Contemporary Yoga Culture....ooops.
Where were those Top fifteen yoga posts of 2012, again?
UPDATE: I mentioned Ramaswami was teaching a module on Yoga Therapy on his next UK workshop in May. It's perhaps useful to take a look at the outline. For some reason it calms me somewhat. I'm OK with terapy ( sp mistake but I like the NJ twang so decided to keep it in) as an aspect of yoga practice and teaching. I think it bemuses me when it becomes the central element of a new discipline.
- Starting salary£11,000 + per year
- decide on an appropriate programme of therapy, which could involve either one-to-one sessions or classes
- teach a combination of simple movements and postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques
- give advice on how to maintain good health and a sense of inner peace and relaxation.
- A new practitioner may earn around £11,000 a year
- With experience this could rise to between £25,000 and £30,000.
- Centre for Yoga Studies, Bristol
- Yoga Therapy and Training Centre
- Dru (UK)
- Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation
- Real Yoga, Herefordshire
- Sadhana Mala
- YOU & ME Yoga.
Training and development
Skills and knowledge
- skill as a yoga practitioner
- good communication and listening skills
- the ability to understand medical terms and information
- a logical approach to problem solving
- a good level of physical fitness.