Modern yoga with its posture-driven body-centrism only began to blossom west of India in the early seventies pioneered by free-spirited youth in search of enlightenment.
The free-spirited and the open-minded are owed a tremendous debt of gratitude for they were the first to accept this mysterious gift from the East. To this day yoga still carries the stamp of their spirit and the stereotypical yoga practitioner is pictured as a young woman in tie-dyed clothing with flowers in her hair. But is this image still serving us?
I think it’s time for western yoga to grow up. Freedom in yoga can be a dangerous illusion.
True freedom is the natural expression of mastery, not the whimsical dalliances afforded by the casual practitioner. And the current method of practicing yoga in the modern yoga industry is churning out casual practitioners in droves.
There are hundreds of yoga styles to choose from: hot and cold, fast and slow, clothed and believe it or not, nude yoga. Dip your toe into one, and just when it gets tough, drop it and find another. We are creating yoga tourists and risking the possible rewards of a dedicated personal practice by falling prey to the illusion of freedom.
When facing the countless options available to a modern yogi, the current paradigm would encourage you to relish in the freedom to dabble. But that type of freedom isn’t worth having. You can’t take a restorative class one day and watch a YouTube video the next and expect to progress. Brace yourself yogis: you need STRUCTURE to get ahead.
Prematurely seeking freedom in your yoga practice may express itself as a sort of disdain for a standardized approach. Systems appear rigid and the current yoga culture perpetuates the myth that you can carve your own path, create your own unique way. But that’s simply not an effective way to practice yoga.
Imagine instead that you need to get somewhere really important – your job, school, a date, wherever – and you plan to drive your car to get there. You hop in your car and start the engine, all ready to go. But . . . there are no roads. You’re expected to carve your own path. Find your own way. Even if your destination isn’t far off, carving your way through fields and forests is going to take you forever. You need a path, ideally a well-trodden one that allows for you to travel safely at a high rate of speed towards your destination. We all know this to be true. No one resents the freedom-restricting nature of a highway.
In India’s past a guru acted as a means of structuring a disciple’s practice. The disciple surrendered to the deep inner-knowledge that the teacher embodied the means for safe passage and sincerely had their best interests in mind. But the days of yoga gurus are gone. The modern yoga practitioner is a world-weary adult far too suspicious of a human teacher to accept the terms of this type of relationship. But embarking on the journey without a guide is not the alternative.
That’s where structured systems come in. And in modern yoga there are surprisingly few. Adamantine® Yoga is a system. It is a highway which allows for you to travel safely through the sea of infinite possibilities you have in front of you as a yoga practitioner.
Your average yoga class is not. It’s a jumbled mix of random postures cobbled together by people who themselves are likely to be casual practitioners, who in the name of freedom have given themselves permission to recombine the same basic positions in increasingly innovative ways; with a strap, in a hammock, without clothes, etc.
Your destination as a modern yogi is directed towards mastering human movement as a means of mastering your whole self. There are maps available. Using a system isn’t a means of denying your personal freedom but an opportunity for you to flourish.
If you are searching for a map to guide you in your own personal practice, check out Adamantine® Yoga. There really is a better way.