For many years, I’ve practiced Yoga at home. And I’d always been hesitant to go to a class.
A few years ago, my wife finally dragged me to one of her classes at the Y, and I settled upon a Yoga instructor who emphasized mindfulness and going over the poses slowly in order to settle into each position. This has always been very important to me, because the act holding the poses longer allowed me to explore the pose and find the right subtleties that helped me get more in tune with my body, mind and spirit.
Other Yoga instructors would treat the classes like a gym class, and I have been very sensitive to that. And there’s the stigma that Westernized Yoga should be treated like a gym class, instead of focusing on the deeper spiritual nature of Yoga.
As a matter of fact, I was very disappointed in the Yoga class I took in India when I went with a tour group there. It was very gymnastic and calisthenic in nature. This surprised me, and there was no emphasis on breathing (what I feel is central to practicing the Asanas). This led me to suspect that the Yoga class was geared toward Westerners. Yes, I was disappointed, but glad to be taking a class in India, anyways.
In the end, I believe that the tradition to find a spiritual master is essential in the practice of Yoga. And having the right teacher is essential to personal success. We all have our difference journeys, so the path will be different for each individual in getting the most out of Yoga.
When the right Yoga teacher presents himself/herself, then the rightness will be felt at a more deeper level, and that is what I’m simply trying to convey in my own personal journey through Yoga.
Yoga is a journey and a science, a spiritual science.
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