Saturday, January 18, 2020

The present-day plight of the yoga student.

The present-day plight of the yoga student.

Yoga: a five-thousand-year-old science that delivers what it promises.

Not happening for you?

The problem might not be yoga, but how you're accessing it.

Figure it:

For some 5,000 years, if someone wanted to learn yoga, their chances weren't that rosy. When yoga came, it was usually through a divine revelation from one of the Hindu Gods. Shiva was the top bet. Students who were denied a visitation had to adhere to the adage: when the student was ready, the teacher appeared. If the teacher appeared, they were paid, not with money, but by the student’s diligence.
Four thousand one hundred years ago:

The learning process was still pretty much word-of-mouth. Patanjali took the plan into his own hands and developed a system. After all, who was there to argue they were wrong. As far as the students were concerned, it was still pretty much word of mouth.

This worked well for almost 4,000 years and yoga remained pretty much the privilege of Indian born souls.
A hundred years ago

When foreign travel became more accessible, a few teachers sailed from India to the West with the knowledge they had collected from their gurus. Most of these yogis were overweight which made asana work a bit difficult. Thus, the bulk of their teachings were more philosophical than physical. Most Western adherents were elderly ladies and a few millionaires who wanted assurance there was something more awaiting them at the end of their earthly existence than the grave.

Eighty years ago

A few seekers who had nothing much to do with their lives turned their backs on materialistic Western Philosophy and traveled to India to sit in front of a cave of a yoga teacher for three weeks in the rain and cold. The chances weren’t always favorable. Most of them got colds. A few gained a smidgen of the knowledge they were searching for and returned to the West with a holier than thou attitude that kept yoga in the basements of churches and community centers.

Fifty years ago:

A handful of hippies traveled to India and back again, bringing with them a new way of getting high which was legal and free. A few of them wrote books with photographs of unattractive women on their heads or handsome Indian men in g-strings with their feet folded behind their heads. Gay men became more interested in the practice and added these particular manuals to their collection of soft-core pornography.


With the advent of videos, hatha yoga took root in Western society offering a lazy alternative to Jane Fonda’s fitness programs. A few Hollywood stars jumped on the bandwagon and, with the help of their gurus, made videos (and a lot of money) for and from the growing number of devotees.

The 90s

The shit hit the fan with the advent of a computer in every home. Failed dancers and aged hippies found lucrative careers by adapting standard practice to a style of yoga more in co-ordnance with a society now convinced there was a way to stave off old age and firm up their sagging asses.

As the gurus of our time gained fame and fortune by creating new names and styles for this four-letter word (that had survived on its own for over five millennials). Yoga became ever more accessible to the masses and people said it was good so. (If the forefathers of ancient science saw any resemblance to the yoga of 5,000 years ago was questionable.)

And, then came the advent of the Yoga Teacher’s Training. What used to take lifetimes to achieve was now obtainable in only a few months offering a bonafide license that allowed you to teach the sacred science of yoga. Hard to believe yoga had existed for almost 5,000 years without this kind of a license, but people were making so much money, no one bothered to ask if such a thing were ethical.

Five years later, the market was inundated with yoga teachers, all intent on finding a new name and slightly different technique to make their yoga that much more lucrative than the other.

When the tide turned, someone came up with the idea to give yoga retreats as a way of making money: two-week periods of time in far off romantic places where you could drink, have indiscriminate sex, and wash away any guilt feelings with a daily dose of yoga and meditation.
When that market was sated, the yoga retreats were transformed into yoga camps where one could vacation and fool around,  and, at the same time, obtain a teacher’s training certificate… or three.

Didn’t anyone notice what was happening to the original concept of yoga? If they did, they didn’t bother to make it public as they were too intent as they were trying to kick a dead horse before the carcass started to stink.

Quite suddenly, watered-down yoga teachers with an active left brain began instructing this ancient revered art on YouTube. For this, all you need to know is how to run a camera and upload the results. The only other prerequisites were a fabulous body, plenty of tattoos, the genetic ability to perform impossible to achieve yoga poses, and the willingness to show off as much flesh as legally possible.

The good news is: When the teacher is ready, the student appears. The bad news is: with a million and one teachers to chose from, an attention span of 20 seconds, the patience of a horny rabbit, and the depth of puddle of tears, when the going gets tough, the tough pick up their skirts run in the other direction.

But that's another story.


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