I.12: By Practice and Detachment these can be stopped.
With the growing trendiness in yoga as a form of exercise, and the morphing of the yoga practice into other disciplines (ie. Yoga booty ball, hoop yoga, yoga ball, and guilty as charged the Madonna Flow Party), there has been a growing feeling of disillusionment and discontent among the general public with the practice, and many sadly, have given up on yoga all together.
Admittedly, I have wrestled with these feelings myself, and have found since teaching full time that finding a balance between yoga as a living and a time-honored practice to be quite a challenge.
Like many things in the west, yoga has fallen into the trap of taking an otherwise good idea and marketing the hell out of it – remember the soy, hemp, and acai trend, they wound up in everything from teas to body lotions!
Many yoga teachers have become celebrities/cult-leaders packaging yoga as if they own it or seemingly provide easy formulas for happiness, a tight butt, or techniques for getting into that ever elusive yoga pose. To credit some of the teachers, the cult-like status may fall on them involuntarily, while others I am sure go seeking it. I would also not want to detract from those yoga teachers who are out there, putting themselves on the line and working really hard to make a difference.
As an industry, there are many lines of products from clothing, teas, mats, props, blocks, blankets, Music CDs, Instructional DVDs, jewellery, charms, books, water bottles to name a few. And to be honest, (me likey satya), I have purchased and own many of these products, and and as a Lulu Ambassador feel a little sheepish talking about it - plus the added irony of running a website etc. But the truth shall set you free.
This June (2010) I recently completed training with Richard Freeman. I have to say that I came back from Boulder and was not sure exactly what I've learned or what I'd share with my students. I have discussed this feeling with fellow teachers/Freeman followers and apparently this is quite the norm.
Richard operates on such a deep, philosophical level that all the material, superficial layers of the yoga practice (as it is today) melt away. Some teacher trainings seem to operate more like self-help, motivational group therapy. Richard's training was definitely not as he leveled the playing ground, did not pick favourites or from what I could see inflate anybody's ego. This is part of the reason why he is my teacher. The training went deep (well as deep as you can in one month, skimming the surface really) of the roots of the practice, history, its internal form, goal and matrix. It truly made me appreciate what this practice offers and all that it requires is to come to the mat and breathe (whatever form that mat takes). As my teacher says, "Just get on the mat and see what happens." and "Practice, and all is coming."
Here is a video worth watching of an interview with Richard Freeman, from ElephantJournal where they discuss the purpose of yoga, the link to buddhism and much more...
Ultimately, this is a practice of self-discovery, of awareness, an inward journey. We must not become dogmatic or rigid in our approach, or fall into to our habitual patters, of the human drama, the soap operas, the stories, the ads and the images as this surely is a recipe for suffering and will likely lead to abandoning the practice all together.
So, when you are feeling frustrated with the practice, know that NO. 1, you are not alone, and that the best way to overcome is through practice, through the breath, by acknowledging what is.
Try reading (or re-reading) The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali. Perhaps one of the most enlightening spiritual documents of all time, nearly two thousand years old, and the 196 compact observations on the nature of consciousness and liberation remains unrivaled for its penetrating insight is still relevant today.
I will leave with you sutras to contemplate:
I.12 Both practice and nonattachment are required to still the patterning of consciousness.
I. 30 Sickness, apathy, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sexual indulgence, delusion, lack of progress, and inconstancy are all distractions that, by stirring up consciousness, act as barriers to stillness.
I. 31 When they do, one may experience distress, depression, or the inability to maintain steadiness of posture or breathing.
I. 32 One can subdue these distractions by working with any one of the following principles of practice.
I. 33 Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.
Can anyone define the word Happiness? What is Happiness we do not know because every single person has its own meaning of happiness. Finding the ways to be happy in life is only a way that can make everyone happy in this world.
This is a great post. I really believe what you are saying here. Don't be dogmatic in anything. Trust your instincts, reflect on what your heart tells you, and don't let anyone offer a solution to you that you follow as a religion. Be ready to change your ideas at any time, yet stay consistent with your practice when you feel you are processing good things - though not always easy things!