Why teach yoga or why not teach yoga? That is the question.
The title of this blog at first glance may appear contradictory. In fact it is really a paradox. A paradox is where something can be one thing and yet be something else at the same time. Such is the radical, revolutionary and revelatory experience called Yoga.
Let me say to begin with that I absolutely love Yoga since the time my mother gave me a book on Yoga at the age of 17 in the heady time that was 1967.
I have only ever written a number of poems in my life. This is the poem I wrote many years later to celebrate this glorious moment.
The Winding Stairs.
On the Winding Stairs
My mother gave me a book.
Inside was a treasure I didn’t know
I had lost.
Now, oft times when I think of my mother
How come she knew
The Treasure was mine.
I have struggled for some time as regards voicing my disquiet as regards how this treasure is being shared in the West.
The Yoga Times Are a Changing
I have been encouraged to share my thoughts about this disquiet through the writing of J. Brown (www.jbrownyoga.com) whose email arrived in my inbox this morning with a blog entitled “Make Yoga Radical Again.”
So this is my wish (along with another wish) to make Yoga radical, relevant and revelatory for the challenging time we all live in.
The landscape is utterly ripe to usher in a new renaissance for yoga that is deeper, more relevant, and better at addressing our suffering. And it’s happening. In the most unexpected places, thoughtful practitioners are sloughing off outdated models and reinvigorating yoga with sincere inquiry and new understandings. Despite the turn of events that has made yoga seem small, the huge power it holds remains untouched. For, at its core, yoga is the most radical thing you can do. May those with the will and courage to envision something better have the fortitude to carry this mantle. – From “Make Yoga Radical Again – J. Brown
So I have put together a menu of the outlining of this article so that you get and overview of the content. This also allows you to navigate this article to aspects of it that most peak your interest.
Why Teach Yoga Menu
- Understanding Yoga
- Why I Don’t Teach Yoga
- Why I Teach Yoga
- The Paradox of Teaching Yoga
- Start as You Mean to Go On.
- The Good News for Yoga Teachers
- 10 Reasons to Teach the Journey of Yoga
Remember that the intention of this article is to expand your awareness of Yoga.
It is, as J Brown say, the most radical thing you can do.” This is to alleviate suffering and to come into alignment with the eternal intention of the Universe. This is union of the personal self with the Universal Self. This is Yoga.
Understanding Yoga – More than a Workout
Let us begin this exploration with examining what the word Yoga means.
More than this let us explore what the experience of Yoga means. The understanding of this word is central to this article and the treasure that it invites you to have revealed through you.
The word Yoga is often translated as “Yoke.” The better and more invitational translation of the word Yoga is the word “union.”
So what is it that is to be joined or yoked?
The joining can be stated in different ways and each of these ways are deeply inter-connected.
- Personality with Universality.
- Time with Eternity.
- Form with the Formless.
- Earth With Heaven.
With the direct experience of Yoga – union – these seemingly separate states are experienced as unified. This experience of Yoga has been declared in different ways.
I and the father are One. – John 10:30
The dewdrop is in the Ocean and the Ocean is in the dewdrop – Rumi (Refer to the 7 Levels of Love)
This experience of union (Yoga) is the primary reason you exist on this planet. To practice yoga is to be committed to the realization of this universal intent.
The Meaning of the Word Yoga
Photo by Pixabay from from Pexels.com
The problem, and I see it as a major problem, especially for the Western mind is that you cannot teach the experience of union. That experience is always given by way of Grace.
This is the reality of most of the worlds religious teachings that chose for the most part to promote belief rather than invite the more challenging and liberating experience of union with the Universal.
Thus you have Yoga inc promoting the practice of different styles of Yoga while at the same time ignoring for the most part the CORE purpose of the invitation they are selling.
What is being sold is health and wellbeing. All power to that but is isn’t the more radical, revolutionary and revelatory experience of Yoga.
In this video the modern mystic and true Yogi Sadhguru shares the true purpose of Yoga.
Why I don’t Teach Yoga
The reason why I do not teach Yoga as the direct experience of union of the personal you with the Universal YOU is because it cannot be taught.
What can be taught are the postures of Hatha Yoga which were orginally designed primarily to prepare the body for the revelation of Divine intention through you and as you.
In the West Yoga is viewed by most people as a kind of workout.
There is nothing wrong with this but don’t give it the name Yoga. It is like offering people a fake diamond when they could have (and what they really need) is the real thing.
You cannot teach others what it is to experience the bliss of union of the personal with the Universal.
True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” — Aadil Palkhivala
You cannot take others into the direct experience of eternity where you step out of the limitation of time into the union with the Timeless. You directly experience what it is to KNOW eternal life.
What you can do, and what any Yoga teacher certified by Grace (the only way to be certified) can do, and absolutely longs to do, is be a guide on the journey to that point where everyone of us must come too on our own.
So Why I Teach Yoga
Photo by Pixabay from from Pexels.com
I am a teacher of Yoga in the sense that I share the map of the journey to union.
I am not a teacher of asanas or pranayama. There are people much better at this than I am and I am not drawn to this practice although I loved it when I was in my twenties.
I hope what I am saying in the next few lines do not sound arrogant although I realize that it very often does sound that way.
I feel qualified to teach Yoga because I am certified by a direct experience of Grace. In my opinion this is the only way in which you can teach what Sadhguru refers to as Yoga.
This is the CORE of Yoga teachings.
There is nothing more radical than KNOWING that you are forever a part of the Universal expression of Love. You experientially KNOW (rather than intellectually believe) that you are a part. but never apart from, this forever becoming.
When you are graced this KNOWING there is one absolute that you wish.
Hafiz says it this way.
I wish that when you are lonely and in darkness that I could show you the astonishing Light of your own Being – Hafiz of Shiraz
Notice that Hafiz begins by declaring, “I wish I could show you.” Hafiz is a mystic. He has had a direct KNOWING of union (Yoga).
He knows, just as I KNOW, that I can only wish to show you the astonishing Light of your own Being.
This is what a REAL Yoga teacher KNOWS and intends.
They know that they can only teach from a wish. This is, however, enough. This is what such KNOWING calls you to do no matter how impossible such a glorious invitation may seem.
The Paradox of Teaching Yoga
So there you have the paradox of teaching REAL Yoga – not as a workout – but as an invitation to realizing the truth of who you are and who you are created to become.
You are certified by Grace.
You KNOW who and why you are. You KNOW this is the treasure that you seek. It is the treasure that when you find it there remains only one thing left to do. This is to give it away to as many people as possible.
You also KNOW that the challenge, and it is a real challenge, is learning how to become one through whom this giving is manifested.
It isn’t you who gives this treasure but you can become one who is a channel for the pouring forth of such treasure.
Now is the time to know that all that you do is sacred… Now is the time for you to deeply compute the impossibility that there is anything but grace. ~ Hafiz
This is what it means to be a real Yogi or Yogini. This is what it means to be truly prosperous. This is what it means to be in full alignment with what is called The Law of Attraction.
Start as You Intend to Go On
So the invitation from Yoga is the invitation to union. This is not the invitation you find in most yoga classes as taught in the West.
In the West the radical and transformative power of the teachings of Yoga have been dumbed down into a workout focused on fitness and wellbeing.
In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamens call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link. – Carlos Castaneda
The intention of this article is to invite the awakening of the radical, transformational and revelatory power of REAL Yoga.
The change begins with intention. Nothing happens without intention.
To reclaim the lost treasure (that is never really lost) you at least have to be aware of what is on offer.
Creation, as an eternal expression of Love, creates forms in order to KNOW itself as Love. (St Theresa of Avila).
You are an expression of Love’s forever becoming. When you are certified by Grace you become a true revolutionary.
You live a Yoga Lifestyle that is in alignment with Universal intention. You become a dance of Love in form.
The Good News for Yoga Teachers.
The good news for certified yoga teachers is that this union is to be experienced through the body.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
From Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
To my mind, Yoga as presently taught in the West can become the invitation to embodied spirituality. Yoga teachers can teach the body to love what it loves. The form of the body loves to be in alignment with the Formless.
As a yoga teacher or practitioner you can have the practice of Yoga become the vehicle for which it always was intended. This is to bring the direct experience into the body of union with the Divine.
This is bringing Heaven on Earth.
The problem is, that for many people, this is just too radical and revolutionary an idea.
For this to happen the invitation to Yoga would need to become a way of living in the world with union as the core intention.
This would allow you to live your life as LIFE intended. You would learn what it means, and more importantly, what it feels like, to live in alignment with Universal purpose.
You would feel what it is to live in alignment with Love’s Purpose which is always YOUR TRUE PURPOSE.
In that way you would find that you really long to be a teacher of Yoga while at the same time recognizing the almost impossible task that you face.
However, while it might appear impossible, in alignment with Divine Presence all things are possible.
So I teach the journey of yoga because it is what I love to do.
I recognize that this is the treasure that I thought that I had lost but can never lose. It is, in the words of the Welsh poet and Anglican priest R. S. Thomas, the one treasure that I must possess.
THE BRIGHT FIELD’ BY R. S. THOMAS
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it.
Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
More to the point I must allow the treasure to possess me.
In this way I simply become a gift giver. I pour away the treasure of infinity. This is the work of a Yoga teacher. It is a work of Love. It is a work in alignment with Love’s Purpose.
That I am certain off. That I am certified in.
I teach what I cannot teach but work to allow the love of union (yoga) to be taught through me.
10 Reasons to Begin to Learn and Teach Yoga
So why not consider becoming a teacher of the Journey of Yoga. As J Brown rightly says, “Yoga is the most radical thing you can do.” It is also one of the most loving things you can do both for yourself and others.
It is having the courage to Companion YOUR Greatness and follow the wish to show to others the astonishing light of their own Being.
While strictly speaking yoga cannot be taught you can learn HOW TO become a channel for the Grace experience that is Yoga (Union). In this way you invite the experience as shared by W.B. Yeats when he said:-
I am blessed and can bless – Vacillation IV.
Here are 10 reasons to begin to live a Yoga Lifestyle that involves the journey into the full understanding of Yoga as a way of Being in the world:-
- Yoga (Union with Love) is the essential reason why you are created.
- You become aligned with the Purpose of the Universe which is your true purpose.
- Life becomes more of a flow rather than a struggle.
- You are investing in what lasts forever.
- You cannot in reality fail other than to start.
- You are aligned with a long-time tradition.
- You are on a path of true fulfilment.
- You become your own energetic authority – (Your Y-E-S)
- You experience increased peace of mind.
- You are more creative and enthusiastic.
So I teach yoga as a journey. I love teaching yoga as a journey to that which fulfils and which, through fulfilment, pours away into blessings for the highest good.
There is nothing quite like being available to the Infinite that then teaches through you and as you.
I hope this article peaks your interest in becoming a radical, revelatory expression that is the potential treasure within you. I hope it will encourage you to take the magnificent journey into Yoga.
I’d appreciate feedback on this article. Did it help or not?