In this first episode we lay the foundations for our future conversations and express some of our fundamental views about yoga practice. I feel we need to be unpretentious and sincere in our attempts to practice yoga and that there is a real lack of these things in foreign yoga culture, especially in America. I just can’t help but make fun of it! If some of these ideas are a little sharp then I am sorry but the over identification with yoga looks so silly to me. I see my Indian friends rolling their eyes and the words of Ma Narasimhan from Mysore ring in my ears. “Foreign yoga practitioners are immature. they are obsessed with their bodies and instant gratification.”
To be fair, there are many sincere foreign yogis and more all the time as our international yoga community grows and evolves. But anyone who just cannot stand to laugh at their self a little needs to lighten up in my view. In the first part of the podcast we mainly talk about practical information and advice for a new student trying to find a suitable yoga class that they enjoy. You can have a million different experiences under the heading of “yoga class.” It can be pop music and heated rooms, it can be bolsters and blankets with restorative techniques, mantra chanting, intensely athletic approaches, spiritual or almost religious approaches and everything in between! One of the main points I want to make is that if you try a class and don’t like it, don’t give up on yoga or even that particular style of yoga! Keep looking. Yoga is unique in it’s ability to mesh with all other physical cultures. As millions of people all over the world practice yoga it is evolving rapidly both in good and bad ways. There is just so much to choose from! Find something you can enjoy and benefit from, and a teacher you can relate to.
Teacher/student relationship! Now there is a lot that can be said about this topic. I only touched on a few aspects in the podcast. The fake guru vibe is easy to make fun of and in fact deserves to be made fun of in my opinion because it is harmful. We are like the blind leading the blind sometimes. I tell my students I know nothing and they know even less, so lets just keep it real. If anyone wants to show their respect, they can do so by following my instructions and really practicing the things I teach them. No need to adopt foreign customs or behaviors.
Guru Parampara. Now this is something I felt that I should have mentioned in the podcast, although I am not sure if it would make sense to a new student of yoga at all. There is of course a sacred relationship that develops between a yoga teacher and student if both are fulfilling their roll with sincere intention. Parampara means “that which is passed down from generation to generation.” Parampara can be in a family or it can be in a teacher student relationship. By it’s very definition, it implies that the teacher taught the student something that changed the course of their life and which they will follow for life. Never in the history of India has Parampara meant simply following a particular sequence of postures. It is not a business model or a pyramid scheme. It is about real and sincere spiritual growth and spiritual knowledge passed down from teacher to student. The student must first listen carefully. Then they must think about it and meditate upon this teaching. If they have doubts or disagreements they must return to the teacher and ask questions until all doubts are resolved. If this cannot be done, the teacher student relationship comes to an end because of incompatible views. When a student actually learns in this way, they then go on to represent the entire line of that yoga Parampara with all the previous teachers or acharyas in that line standing behind them. It is a beautiful and sacred relationship which is little understood in western yoga culture….which is exactly why I tend to make fun of people with a shallow, thoughtless and incomplete view of this subject! But I do hold this relationship very sacred in my own life and I have utmost respect and gratitude for my teachers. However, not one of them, Indian or western, has ever demanded anything more, or less, than sincerity and respect and following of their instructions. The love between teacher and student, when it happens in the right way is indeed a beautiful, sacred and lifelong experience. I am very grateful to all those who believed in me enough to bear with my unintelligent questions, my lack of knowledge and who gave me their time and patient instruction. That knowledge does indeed touch the heart so deeply that it stays forever in our minds and of course we always remember our teachers with great reverence!
I realized in making this first podcast that it is a natural and fun way to express thoughts about yoga! If you enjoy these thoughts and have any comments of questions please feel free to share them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org