Yoga Controversy

So the fourth weekend was an interesting one, it was probably the most confrontational of all the weekends. Not to say any of the others have been as such but it just felt like many of us didn’t really get the answers we wanted or needed. The first lecture we had was on the history of yoga which in all honesty was slightly weak. Not in terms of the teacher but in terms of some of the answers and interpretations basically being your own. It seems that although there is a lot of research on the origins of yoga that they are often conflicting. Not only that but when yoga was first formed (or believed to be formed) it was passed down orally. Therefore as things do they are lost in translation or multiplied and recreated into different forms. There is no doubt that yoga can be found in many places, cultures and religions and it seems clear that the yoga we often practice today, with all the Asanas (poses) was mainly formed in the 60’s/70’s in the USA. However in terms of getting an answer on the actual history it felt like every question we asked there was only a vague answer, it could be that or it might be this take it as your own. Perhaps I like science and maths too much but I like cold hard facts sometimes. There is no doubt that yoga is an extremely old tradition and a beautiful one that in itself has taken many different paths.
The next part of the weekend was about Ayurveda. Ayurveda is Indian Science or life knowledge. Now I’m not going to try and explain all of it here but it’s main concern is the way in which you live your life. How connected the mind and body are and the importance of them being in sync as a way of healing. Ayurveda talks about what you should eat, drink, or the types of exercise you should do and when. The teacher spoke a lot about the Doshas being Vata, Pitta and Kapha. A person can be aligned to one Dosha more than another but the general imbalance of these Doshas can lead to an unhealthy life and perhaps even illness. Therefore keeping these in balance is a guide to healthy living. For example a Vata person may be prone to anxiety and therefore doing things like hard cardio could be swapped for something more calming and grounding like yoga which would be more beneficial especially with it’s attention to the breath. Now in general I agreed with a lot of what was said and thought actually I probably life my life in that way to an extent without even realising it. However being told that the only water I should drink should be hot and that exercise should only be done in the morning and other restrictive things that I thought weren’t very realistic for a modern day society I thought otherwise. It was great however to have a teacher who was extremely passionate about Ayurveda and fully practiced what she preached. However with all these things I still believe in taking it with a pinch of salt, everything in moderation and figuring out what works best for you as a person. I do fancy myself an Ayurvedic massage though!
The last part of the weekend that I personally found very frustrating was the lecture we had on Chanting/Matras. Now to start with chanting is not something I personally enjoy or would really teach in my class as it’s not my style and I wouldn’t feel very comfortable teaching and I think that would come across. However regardless of my personal feelings I wasn’t reassured when my questions  on the topic weren’t answered confidently either. I was trying to understand how people felt when they are asked to chant in Sanskrit for the first time along with a teacher and whether we should explain the meaning behind them. Unless you go to the same class a lot or it’s only a short few words I think it can be unrealistic to chant the words first time. Do you know the words to a song the first time you hear it? No. Do you know how to say and pronounce words from a language you’ve only just heard? No. Do you understand their meaning? No. In no way was I trying to say that there isn’t a place for Matras as I do and I am willing to try but I am inquisitive in nature and am a practical person so I like a good practical answer. Perhaps I don’t throw myself into these things enough but I have often been in a class and thought I’m not taking part as I don’t know what I’m saying and would rather listen to others enjoy it instead to me that’s more satisfying. I also tried to understand whether the mantras were religious and although I was told they were not the translation into English very much felt religious, written in the same way as many prays in a Holy book. I don’t really want to be saying things that I don’t believe in and that wouldn’t be true to myself which isn’t what yoga is about to me. It was all a bit of a toughie and a lot of conflicting beliefs within the class which I think is great but frustrating none the less.
All in all it was one interesting weekend!

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