Authenticity – I am true to the essence of my Self regardless of the pressures that may surround me. ~ Be the change cards
On the last new moon my intention of keeping yoga real, by keeping it authentic was set. However, it dawned on me that I wasn’t too sure of how I was to do this. The struggle comes down to putting a monetary value on a spiritual practice. Yoga has become highly marketable, maybe because people need more authentic connections. In this day and age with smart phones and social media at your fingertips, we have begun to lose real connections with others and ourselves.
Yoga in sanskrit comes from the word yuj which means to join, to yoke. Hatha yoga is the umbrella of all the different styles of yoga. Hatha yoga is often thought of as a gentle style of yoga but it is not, it is a fierce practice that unites us with the cosmos bringing our body’s energy into balance developing clarity. Some examples of different styles of yoga are yin yoga, vinyasa, jivamukti, forest yoga, viniyoga, baptist yoga, power yoga etc. It all comes down to being Hatha yoga.
The external sun and moon divide each twenty-four hours into night and day, and the internal sun and moon, i.e., ida and pingala, are responsible for our perception of night and day; that is duality. Ida nadi predominates at night, the parasympathetic nervous system is active, there is a greater release of melatonin hormone within the brain and the subconscious mind is active. During the daylight hours pingala predominates, the sympathetic nervous system is more active and seratonin hormone is released within the brain which brings conscious functions to the fore and the subconscious mind submerges.
The two nadis, ida and pingala, and the nervous systems, pull the awareness from one extreme to the other, binding us to the duality of mundane circumstances because of the interrelationship with the external force of the sun and moon. The entire biological system is programmed to the movements of the sun and the moon cycles. However, a yogi can develop control of the autonomic nervous system so that the body and mind are not swayed to the extremes. It means developing the voluntary and central nervous systems, activating sushumna nadi and ajna chakra. Such a person lives in a perfectly balanced stat of being. ~ Hatha Yoga Pradipika IV:17 (exerpt from Jivamukti Yoga)
How have we come so far removed from this classical explanation of what Hatha yoga is, as described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika? With all styles of yoga becoming trendy and yoga highly marketed the traditional practice loses its authenticity. HOW DO WE KEEP YOGA REAL?
The answer lies with the teacher being able to hold up their true self and not cave under any pressure that may be inflicted upon them. Keeping integrity is key.
Being a yoga teacher is not an easy task. It takes a lot of balancing and boundary setting with the clear intention of resonating with the divine self. Self care must be a daily task through proper diet and home practice, plus study, and class preparation. What a teacher does goes beyond the class and is honestly a labour of love. When someone teaches yoga, it should be in the most authentic way – from a place of great love and compassion. An authentic teacher has worked out their own issues learned from them in their own practice and then is able to bring what they have learned to the class to serve their students.
Three qualities of a great teacher (as outlined by my teacher Tina James)
- Love for students – cares deeply for their students
- Own yoga practice – continues to practice daily (all forms – asana, pranayama, meditation, scripture study…)
- A lineage – knows where their teachers learned what was taught to them, and holds this in great reverence
Here are some tips to figure out if you are in the right class (by Meagan McCrary)
- You feel safe and supported
- You can hear and understand
- The teacher customizes his or her teachings
- The teacher respects and honours
- The teacher addresses everyone
- You can approach the teacher
- You feel inspired
With love and light,