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  • Writer's pictureSavira Gupta

A Response to Jenni Rawlings

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

"At its core, the definition of yoga is encapsulated in Yoga Sutra 1.2: “Yoga chitta vrtti nirodha”. The English translation of this classic Sanskrit line is “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. An excerpt from Jenni Rawlings post.

It is incomplete......

For a desi yogi like myself Yoga is not just (cessation of the fluctuations of the mind) it is a tool, a guide that helps me through the different stages in life. It is a way to understand the aims and stages of being a human being. It is about fulfilling my roles (as a teacher, mother, daughter etc) on this planet with integrity and honesty. To practice Chitta Vritti Nirodha’ is to help me see with clarity, to be more present with my action. Most importantly it is a practice to direct the being into Svādhyāya the practice of self-study.

For me and for many desis, the practice of Yoga goes beyond the physical that we see in studios, social media and marketing platforms. It is deep rooted within our culture, it is how we live, function, honour and practice our spirituality.

In India and across the world the philosophy of Yoga encompasses the Purushatra’s (aims in a human life) and ashrama (stages in a human life)? Yet in the West especially in yoga trainings this subject is lightly touched upon and then forgotten. Never to be discussed, talked or weaved into yoga classes. This takes us further away from what we are trying to achieve. By stressing the physical practice we are encouraging others and ourselves to remain deep rooted into the physical body!

What really hurts is when white yoga teachers talk, write and teach only the physical aspect of yoga and (call it yoga) unfortunately the watered-down version (ask the beer drinking goat yoga, the yin gin or nude yoga!!) and defend its existence. You are dishonouring me as a one of your peers, my culture and its traditions and at the same time disrespecting/excluding many desi yoga practitioners /teachers from either practicing or teaching at the studios. Most importantly the glorification of ‘Instant Gratification Mentality’ becomes even stronger in our society. This goes against the teachings of this philosophy!

The essence of Yoga which resides/resonates/practiced by millions of Indians are being trampled upon. By turning a blind eye to this, we are re birthing the rise of colonisation of this community AGAIN! This will resonate with many… when voices were raised against our oppressors (British Raj). It is happening again and this time in the field of Yoga.

Let’s be inclusive rather than exclusive. Listen to what we desi yogis are saying rather than suppressing or dismissing our voices.

Hatha Yoga (physical practice) is in the forefront of every western studio’s time table. When you strip Yoga from its essence, it becomes a dry and competitive practice. Have you wondered why all our asanas resembles creatures, animals and deities? Well by performing these asanas, a yogi learns to accept without judgment and discrimination that we are all equal and share the same universal spirit.

Remember Hatha (physical) is just A branch of the Tree of Yoga. The other branches like Karma, Bhakti, Mantra, Raja, Jnana are rarely discussed or touched upon. To nurture a tree you have to nurture all its qualities not just one !

Besides the Yoga Sutras and Bhagvad Gita, the Upanishads offers a different view on Yoga, ranging from postures, breath exercises, anatomy and meditation. Something to think about.

"The boundary around what makes yoga yoga is something that is continually being negotiated and will always be open to influence from new ideas. Experimenting with different approaches, unique props, or innovative sequencing in yoga classes is not somehow a threat to the institution of yoga as we know it." excerpt from her post Jenni Rawlings.

Jenni I respect your innovations, teachings and passion for the anatomy and its movement related to the physical body, however it is not Yoga in its entirety and although the physical side may be open to influence, the true 'ESSENCE of Yoga will never be negotiated nor open to other interpretations for the simple reason that it is my culture'.

Honour and Respect the Authenticity of Yoga.

Gyan Mudra, the 'Seal of Knowledge'

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