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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Controversy (2)

The controversy over "What is Yoga?" rages on (http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/the-great-yoga-divide/?ref=yoga) and it makes me think more about my own approach to yoga. What is it to me? A form of exercise? A form of meditation? A form of escapism? A form of lifestyle? The last one is interesting as it encompasses every aspect of my living: how I eat, how I work, how I make choices etc. 

I think, for me, it did start off as a form of exercise: i.e. okay, I am gonna bend a little lower/deeper in the next class. Even to this day, has it changed my diet? Not really. I might have eaten more greens/salads but there hasn't been any fundamental changes in that. Has it changed the way I live? Other than having a regular practice (I have a class @ pm today, for instance), I still play my Tactics Ogre and go around the city looking at the latest phone models. I still download TV shows and films to watch. I still work. Come to think of it, my life is extraordinarily ordinary and yoga hasn't really changed that in any way. 

But, at the same time, it HAS changed me and I'm still trying to put my finger on exactly what it is that has made these changes (and what are these changes). Something (I don't even know how to describe it) has affected my attitude towards life (one of the changes). Something has sharpened my sense of awareness ... of myself, of people around me, of the world, of life. And I think that is why yoga is beyond exercising for me now. I'm not sure whether it's good, or bad, (or even if it matters) to be more aware but all I know is I've simply become more aware (and even sensitive) towards people/things/events around me as well as myself.

At the end of the day, yoga is a tool. How people choose to use that tool is entirely up to them and what they/we get out of using this tool will be as diverse/different as the people who use it. Take a toothbrush for an example. For most people, it's a good and useful tool to clean teeth. But some people might use it for other things like polishing metal or, I know, combing a cat. You can also use it to jab yourself in the eye but most of us wouldn't do that -- even if someone asks us to - for obvious reasons. So to say practising yoga, especially in its "westernised" form, is dangerous doesn't quite make sense. It really largely depends on how it is taught and practised. Yoga itself is not inherently harmful. 

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