A Yoga Reality Check

By Yogacharya

I know what it’s like to walk into a yoga class and feel completely out of place (I still do, actually, but for other reasons now ;O).  When I first tried yoga, oh way back when, I couldn’t even touch my toes … not even close!

Fortunately for me, I was persistent … and also fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to travel to India early on in my exploration of yoga and spend a lot of time learning outside of the goal-oriented, physical-fitness obsessed culture of my Western homeland.

In other words, I didn’t spend a lot of time hiding in the back of a crowded room full of incomprehensibly stretchy bendy people, feeling like a rigid sack of bricks!

If I did, I probably would have thought, like maybe you do now, that I if I wanted to do yoga, then I’ve somehow got figure out how to get my chin down closer to my shin!

But I didn’t … and so I don’t.

I stretch, therefore I am
The obsession today with the physical stretches and exercises in yoga is nothing short of shear madness! But really, should we be surprised at that? Yoga has simply entered the mainstream of a culture already obsessed with crafting the body beautiful, and this exotic new form of exercise with its easily marketable pseudo-spiritual mystique was a no-brainer, and a long-overdue replacement for aerobics and boxercise.

OK, I’d better stop myself before I get going onto a lengthy diatribe about the state of yoga in the modern world. That’s another whole book in itself.

Here’s a couple articles with some interesting insight on that subject:
Yoga: is it the new aerobics?
What is Yoga, really?

Yoga reality check
Perhaps it’s time to step back and take a good look in the mirror.  Yeah, I know, you look fantastic in your Lululemon yoga pants!

But how’s life?  I mean, are you feeling more content with your circumstances in life?  Are you less stressed?  More optimistic?  Able to stay cool as a cucumber in frustrating situations?  What about your relationships?  Are they sailing smoothly now?  Are you living in greater harmony with nature and everyone around you? Do you smile when everyone is frowning? Are you finding more time to spend with your kids? Do you open the door for strangers?

If you’re having a hard time saying yes to most of those things, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you are really getting what you should be out of yoga …  or if you’re just there to look at yourself in the mirror?


Yogacharya is Director of International Yogalayam and Editor of “The Yoga News

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5 Comments so far

  1. Pam on August 27th, 2009

    I agree, yoga is seen by most people now as just another system of physical exercise. How many people know that it’s their “whole lives” that yoga is meant to help them get into better shape?

    I really liked your article, “Yoga: is it the new aerobics”!

  2. Andria on September 8th, 2009

    Yes, I know its frustrating. But just remember, we all start somewhere. Part of yoga is to practice non-judgement. What others get or don’t get out of yoga is not really anyone’s business but their own. You never know who that person really is or where they might end up who seems so vain in yoga class. Let people go on their journey. Yoga has a way of working on people eventually. They will get it–give them time. Plus, I am so happy to see people taking care of their bodies and actually caring about their bodies–there are so many people abusing their bodies out there. The modern world is great–look at how we can communicate with each other–the ancient yogis gave us a gift with which to use in the now. Great insights and message–keep gently reminding people–like you do with your own mind and body–where to find the path. Thanks for teaching and writing! Peace.

  3. missye on September 8th, 2009

    My experience is based on a limited number of teachers (4). What I have learned is that our classes are without competition and are focused on personal reflection and discovery- Personally I prefer a flow yoga style and enjoy the intense cardio from the slow flow through postures- I feel fine tuned mentally, spiritually and physically after each class- I may always be in awe of the body that can effortlessly suspend gravity and gracefully stretch into a wonderful place- I am discovering my own grace and find I can develop my own way although more than twice the age of most of my classmates-

  4. dr hemant on November 2nd, 2009

    yoga is a way of life.
    be non judgemental

    yoga is not a bargain
    yoga is not a deal

    practice yoga and
    you will get, what you deserve!!


  5. belema on November 12th, 2009

    so far your yoga lessons have been very helpful to my day to day life, it has improved my physical welbeing thanks 4 revealing the most important things in life