In modern times, yoga is often seen as more of a physical practice than a spiritual one. With people around the world adopting yogic methodology at a rapid pace, this phenomenon is becoming even more pronounced. Although asana practice is one of the best forms of physical fitness, separating yoga from its holistic origins dilutes the effectiveness of a complete yogic practice.
With the world becoming more scientific and results oriented, it is natural that some of the more esoteric aspects of yogic philosophy are overlooked and underrated by many. Unfortunately, the teachings of traditional teacher are seen as being more suited to simpler times when, supposedly, less was known about psychology and human motivations. Contrary to modern belief, the practice of yoga is derived from careful study of the human condition. Rather than superstition, yogic methods have a solid grounding in scientific concepts.
Living a yogic lifestyle does not require a wholesale belief in concepts that are mystical or otherwise nebulous in nature. From its beginnings thousands of years ago, yogic methodology has always been about improving the human condition through the scientifically proven concepts of observation and testing. The result of all these years of study is a body of knowledge that has much to say about the human condition during this and any other era.
The essence of yogic philosophy is continual improvement. Far from being just a set of exercises and rituals, yoga training seeks to cultivate progress in those who practice it. The fact that yoga continues to be practiced by millions of adherents worldwide is a testament to the lasting power of the underlying concepts upon which it is based.
The yogic lifestyle begins with the simple philosophy that all aspects of the human condition are subject to improvement. Everything from the thoughts we have to the foods that we put in our bodies, can and should be reviewed for opportunities for improvement. Introspection in every action that we take, allows for refinement and continual progress over time. Although yogic science appears more subtle than other forms of science, this gradual nature ensures that all progress is lasting progress.
The yoga training session extends from the classroom to the home, to the greater world. The most attractive facet of the yoga lifestyle is that its benefits are meant to be shared. Yogic self-improvement is not possible to obtain unless it is made to manifest itself in the relationships of those who practice yoga. This manifestation takes on many forms. Everything from being kind to neighbors and strangers, to giving charity is part of the big picture.
The life-shaping implications of yoga aren’t always apparent to new students. Worse yet, some individuals actively fear the spiritual growth and emotional health aspects of yoga. One reason that some people struggle against adopting a yogic lifestyle is the nature of its followers who tend to compromise and seek peaceful resolutions to conflicts. For some, it’s difficult to believe that any science so rich in gifts, does not ask anything of those who practice it. Dispelling these unfounded fears is something that only a dedicated yoga teacher or practitioner can do. There is no deception in the goals of world peace and a clean planet for our children.
Going beyond the simple practice of asana and into the true science of yoga, requires the knowledge of someone who actively lives the complete lifestyle. An experienced yoga instructor can guide students using knowledge gained from the classroom. The difference between experiential knowledge and the application of yoga techniques in real life is vast. Obtaining the most valuable benefits of yogic science is a lifelong practice that rewards and nurtures those teachers and practitioners who make the attempt.