I often encounter people who tell me they practice yoga and as our conversation continues they also share that they practice meditation and follow a philosophical doctrine. What I find interesting is that what is generally considered to be yoga is what we do on a mat. It’s to the point that many consider the practice of yoga to be hatha yoga postures only and value it for the physical benefits but when it comes to meditation or philosophy, they look outside this school of thought.
Being curious, I like to ask why. The most common answers are that they are unaware that yoga provides us with intelligent, heartfelt and practical meditation techniques and enlightening philosophical world- views. And, in some cases they are under the impression that its practices are pre-rational, religious, or/and correlated with new-age doctrines and they are interested in scientific and proven methods.
I wonder how yoga became so popular and yet has remained “unknown” or misunderstood. It’s true that for most, our introduction to the practice is physical, but the physical side of yoga is a small side of the practice. And as valuable and as integrative as the yoga postures are, its wisdom is as accessible, intelligent and beneficial.
I believe that we as yoga teachers need to “step-it up”! The wisdom is too valuable not to be shared. We must keep-up with our study, practice and learn to share it in a practical and uplifting manner. As teachers we must stay connected, share what we have learned and help each other clarify our understanding and therefore, make space for the type of integration that leads to mutual growth.
Also please note that to practice yoga, you need not follow a specific doctrine. Yoga accepts all practices that lead to awakening. I am simply bringing this topic up for those who are “searching” and don’t even think of looking at a practice they already love for further teachings.