Yoga Body, Yoga Spirit: Can We Have Both?

It’s smooth to recognize why John Friend fantastically recommends the e-book Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Yoga “for all honest students of yoga.” Because, Mark Singleton’s thesis is a nicely researched reveal of ways present-day hatha yoga, or “posture practice,” as he terms it, has changed within and after the practice left India.

But the ebook is specially approximately how yoga transformed in India itself in the closing 150 years. How yoga’s predominant, contemporary proponents-T. Krishnamacharya and his college students, K. Patttabhi Jois and B. K. S. Iyengar-combined their homegrown hatha yoga practices with European gymnastics.Yoga

This was what number of Indian yogis coped with modernity: Rather than last within the caves of the Himalayas, they moved to the town and embraced the oncoming European cultural tendencies. They particularly embraced its greater “esoteric types of gymnastics,” inclusive of the influential Swedish strategies of Ling (1766-1839).

Singleton uses the word yoga as a homonym to give an explanation for the principle purpose of his thesis. That is, he emphasizes that the phrase yoga has multiple meanings, relying on who uses the term.

This emphasis is in itself a worth corporation for students of everything yoga; to recognize and accept that your yoga won’t be the identical kind of yoga as my yoga. Simply, that there are many paths of yoga.

In that regard, John Friend is truly proper: this is by far the maximum complete take a look at of the culture and records of the influential yoga lineage that runs from T. Krishnamacharya’s humid and warm palace studio in Mysore to Bikram’s artificially heated studio in Hollywood.



Singleton’s examine on “postural yoga” makes up the bulk of the book. But he also devotes some pages to define the records of “conventional” yoga, from Patanjali to the Shaiva Tantrics who, based totally on a lot earlier yoga traditions, compiled the hatha yoga culture within the center ages and penned the well-known yoga text books the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Geranda Samhita.

It is while doing those examinations that Singleton gets into water tons hotter than a Bikram sweat. Thus I hesitate in giving Singleton a directly A for his in any other case splendid dissertation.

Singleton claims his undertaking is only the study of present-day posture yoga. If he had stuck to that undertaking on my own, his e-book could have been high-quality and received simplest accolades. But regrettably, he commits the equal blunder such a lot of present-day Hatha yogis do.

All yoga styles are first-class, these hatha yogis say. All homonyms are similarly suitable and valid, they claim. Except that homonym, which the cultural relativist Hatha yogis understand as an arrogant version of yoga. Why? Because its adherents, the traditionalists, claim it is a deeper, greater spiritual and conventional from of yoga.

This type of rating thinks Singleton, is counterproductive and a waste of time.

Georg Feuerstein disagrees. Undoubtedly the most prolific and properly-reputable yoga pupil out of doors India these days, he is one of those traditionalists who holds yoga to be an quintessential practice-a frame, thoughts, spirit practice. So how does Feuerstein’s indispensable yoga homonym vary from the non-imperative current posture yoga homonym provided to us through Singleton?

Simply put, Feuerstein’s extraordinary writings on yoga have targeted at the holistic practice of yoga. On the complete shebang of practices that conventional yoga evolved during the last 5000 plus years: asanas, pranayama (respiration sporting events), chakra (subtle energy centers), kundalini (non secular energy), bandhas (advanced frame locks), mantras, mudras (hand gestures), and many others.

Hence, at the same time as posture yoga mostly makes a speciality of the physical frame, on doing postures, crucial facebook baby yoga includes both the bodily and the subtle body and entails an entire plethora of bodily, mental and spiritual practices hardly ever practiced in any of ultra-modern cutting-edge yoga studios.

I would now not have troubled to convey all this up had it no longer been for the reality that Singleton cited Feuerstein in a important light in his book’s “Concluding Reflections.” In different words, it’s miles strategically important for Singleton to critique Feuerstein’s interpretation of facebook baby yoga , a shape of yoga which occurs to pretty much coincide with my own.

Singleton writes: “For a few, together with satisfactory-promoting yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein, the modern-day fascination with postural yoga can handiest be a perversion of the proper yoga of subculture.” Then Singleton costs Feuerstein, who writes that after yoga reached Western shores it “turned into regularly stripped of its spiritual orientation and remodeled into fitness schooling.”

Singleton then effectively factors out that yoga had already commenced this health alternate in India. He also correctly points out that fitness yoga is not apposed to any “religious” organisation of yoga. But that isn’t always exactly Feuerstein’s point: he truly points out how the bodily workout part of current yoga lacks a deep “spiritual  body orientation.” And that could be a crucial distinction.

Then Singleton exclaims that Feuerstein’s assertions misses the “deeply religious orientation of a few modern bodybuilding and women’s health schooling within the harmonial gymnastics lifestyle.”

While I assume I am quite clean approximately what Feuerstein way with the aid of “deeply non secular,” I am nonetheless no longer positive what Singleton way via it from just reading facebook baby yoga  Body. And that makes an sensible assessment tough. Hence why did Singleton carry this up in his concluding arguments in a ebook devoted to bodily postures? Surely to make a point.

Since he did make a factor about it, I would love to reply. Spirit

According to Feuerstein, the purpose of yoga is enlightenment (Samadhi), now not physical health, no longer even non secular physical fitness. Not a better, slimmer body, however a higher risk at non secular liberation.

For him, yoga is in general a religious practice concerning deep postures, deep have a look at and deep meditation. Even even though postures are an necessary a part of conventional yoga, enlightenment is possible even with out the practice of posture yoga, without a doubt tested via such sages as Ananda Mai Ma, Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and others.

The broader question approximately the goal of yoga, from the factor of view of traditional yoga is this: is it possible to obtain enlightenment through the exercise of fitness yoga by myself? The answer: Not very smooth. Not even possibly. Not even by means of working towards the kind of health yoga Singleton claims is “spiritual.”

According to imperative yoga, the frame is the first and outer layer of the thoughts. Enlightenment, but, takes place in and beyond the fifth and innermost layer of the subtle body, or Kosa, no longer in the physical frame. Hence, from this specific attitude of yoga, health yoga has positive limits, in reality as it can’t by myself deliver the favored results.

Similarily, Feuerstein and all us different traditionalists (oh, the ones darn labels!) are clearly pronouncing that in case your aim is enlightenment, then health yoga likely might not do the trick. You can stand in your head and do energy yoga from sunrise to middle of the night, but you continue to might not be enlightened.

Hence, they designed sitting facebook baby yoga postures (padmasana, siddhasana, viirasana, and many others) for such unique purposes. Indeed, they spent extra time sitting still in meditation over shifting approximately doing postures, because it become the sitting practices which prompted the favored trance states of enlightenment, or Samadhi.

In different phrases, you may be enlightened with out ever working towards the varied Hatha postures, but you in all likelihood may not get enlightened by simply practising these postures on my own, no matter how “non secular” the ones postures are.

These are the kinds of layered insights and views I sorely overlooked whilst studying Yoga Body. Hence his grievance of Feuerstein seems as an alternative shallow and kneejerk.

Singleton’s sole cognizance on describing the bodily practice and records of modern-day yoga is comprehensive, likely quite correct, and alternatively mind-blowing, but his insistence that there are “deeply spiritual” elements of modern-day gymnastics and posture yoga misses an vital factor approximately facebook baby yoga . Namely, that our our bodies are simplest as spiritual as we’re, from that space in our hearts, deep inside and beyond the frame.

Yoga Body as a result misses a vital factor many of us have the proper to say, and without having to be criticized for being smug or suggest-minded: that yoga is frequently a holistic exercise, in which the physical body is visible as the first layer of a series of ascending and all-embracing layers of being-from frame to mind to spirit. And that in the long run, even the frame is the living location of Spirit. In sum, the frame is the sacred temple of Spirit.

And wherein does this yoga attitude hail from? According to Feuerstein, “It underlies the entire Tantric subculture, significantly the faculties of hatha yoga, that is an offshoot of Tantrism.”

In Tantra, it is honestly understood that the human being is a 3-tiered being-physical, intellectual and spiritual. Hence, the Tantrics very skillfully and thoroughly developed practices for all three tiers of being.

From this historical attitude, it is very pleasing to peer how the extra spiritual, all-embracing tantric and yogic practices along with hatha facebook baby yoga , mantra meditation, respiratory physical games, Ayurveda, kirtan, and scriptural look at are increasingly more turning into essential features of many modern yoga studios.

Originally posted 2017-09-20 07:50:22.