Someone on Quora asked me this today and this was my answer.
I am- gradually- starting to feel okay about charging for my yoga classes. It’s cost me a lot to be a yoga teacher, and continues to cost as I have to pay for a venue, props, ongoing yoga training, publicity, website etc.. When I first started, my impulse, like many yoga teachers, was to give classes for free. Then I charged as little as I could to make it accessible to everyone. Until my students asked me to raise the fee because they felt embarrassed paying me so little!
Through all this, I haven’t changed my commitment to offering accessible, authentic yoga to my community. That is the heart, and the reason for what I do. The heart of yoga, as I understand it, is bringing together body, mind and spirit to perceive the divine unity and come to a more complete consciousness.
So, finally my answer to you would be that yoga which is shaped by market forces and trends and is motivated by opportunistic greed is unlikely to be authentic. Anyone who tries to “own yoga” by patents, copyrights and specifying regulations of which they are the sole guardians (I’m talking to you, Yoga Alliance) is likely to be inauthentic.
But nature will find a way. I came to yoga through a very diluted, syndicated yogalates practice at a gym and realised I was not satisfied with it; it led me to seeking out more knowledge about actual yoga. So the profusion of commercial yoga Studios means more people will have the opportunity for at least some exposure to the yoga way and may want to dig deeper.
The other consideration is that even the most commercial studio chain is very likely to have some sincere true yogis teaching within it, so there is another opportunity for people to come into contact with a more integral yoga practice.
What is yin yoga?
Yin yoga is a super-slow form of yoga, involving seated or reclined poses which are held for at least two to five minutes each.
Some say yin is a modern variant of Hatha yoga, initiated and developed since the 1970s in America. Others say that which we are now calling yin yoga is in fact closer to the original practice of the yoga asanas, which are thought to date back at least 5000 years. (1)
The theory is that you apply load to connective tissue such as ligaments and the fascia, which is the sheath which covers all muscle tissue, in order to increase flexibility.
A second focus within yin yoga is clearing the “meridians”- the channels carrying Qi (chi), the vital energy or life force, through the body. The map used for these meridians is the same used in acupuncture. Therefore you can have a sequence to promote kidney health, for example. Although this concept is drawn from Taoism and Chinese medicine, it is also found in yoga’s “Nadis”, or energy pathways through the body which carry prana, the yogic name for life force.
Because you hold the poses for extended periods, you are not expected to put as much muscular effort into each pose. We want the emphasis to remain on working with the fascia, and other deeper tissue beneath the muscle layer. You just put yourself into a position and stay there. There is less emphasis on alignment than there is in more flow-style yoga.
A third benefit of the yin approach is that it is very contemplative. It can be especially good for those who say “Oh, I can’t meditate, I’ve got a monkey mind”. Because we are tasking the body with sometimes taxing holds-and it’s fascinating how something you can do easily for 20 seconds becomes almost impossible after four minutes!- the mind can and must slow down. We maintain focus and develop patience and resolve.
Yin sequences will be offered at Shala Om from time to time within our usual schedule during 2017.
(1)”The practice of holding yoga postures or asanas for extended periods of time has always been a significant part of traditional yoga practice, both in the hatha yoga tradition of India and in the Taoist yoga tradition of the greater China area. Some regard Yin yoga as the oldest form of hatha yoga, since it is an effective method of physical conditioning for prolonged sitting in meditation, which was the principal concern of ancient yogic practitioners.”
Article ©2017 Unjay
There is nothing more powerful than an idea.
There is nothing more dangerous than a human with a belief that their idea is absolute truth.
To be certain is to be out of touch with reality- because we must know we cannot with certainty know anything.
Astrophysics tells us this. Particle physics tells us this. The world’s biggest machine, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, was built to find out what stuff is made of at the most basic level. And we still don’t know for sure.
So, choose. Choose honestly and wisely what your faith, what your picture of the Universe, is. And act as though you are right but be open to being wrong.
In light of this understanding I approach yoga or meditation. Without dogma. Without a guru.
My friend Vani is from the rich, ancient culture of India and has a legitimate direct transmission of practice from her guru.
I am from no particular culture, or no single culture anyway. And although I sometimes envy people like Vani who know where they fit and who their people are, I think my situation is more representative of the current age. The age of individualism.
Western European culture has been elevating the individual above the collective since at least The Renaissance, arguably since the High Middle Ages. That’s five or six hundred years of social, philosophical and spiritual evolution. And we have lost a lot in the course of that evolution. Westerners are more isolated, lonely and depressed than ever before. But we have gained the ability to stand on our own and say, “This I believe; this is me.” And that is empowering.
It is when we have no belief, take no position, that we fail so miserably. Then we fall between a place of community and individual faith. It is then that society degenerates into a hopeless, chaotic, alienating dystopia.
I think that, moving into the future, we are going to be ever more discarding the received authority of traditional cultures, traditions, social structures and religions. This can be frightening and so there is a temptation to join the backlash of the backward-looking. The offer of the certainty of the past through right-wing political nostalgia, fundamentalist religious beliefs, nationalism, militarism. All of these give you something to belong to, something to be part of. That sense of community, of “unity with”, with which we in the West seem to be losing touch.
I value individualism highly. I also acknowledge that we are fundamentally social beings. Nothing is more damaging than isolation. So how do we resolve this dilemma?
Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Be open to exciting choices. Then look at ways those choices give you opportunities to build community. Or join community.
My own mini “Eat, Pray, Love” story is one of leaving my teaching position and going to Byron Bay to do yoga teacher training. There was a time of uncertainty when I came home- I just wanted to go back and disappear into the seductive endless summer of a surfie/yoga/hippy Mecca. But then my friend Heather said to me, “Go and build community in Semaphore”. Her words were clear, true and inspired. One of those precious times when you know that what you are hearing is absolutely right. So I came home and Christy and I, with support from our kids, started Shala Om, a tiny yoga community in Semaphore.
It’s not on a world scale. It’s not a commercial success. It’s not even a business really. There are only a few people who know about it. But it’s our little contribution, and it is so valuable to me and to others.
It is community born of individualism.
Like butterfly wings
Her lashes softly close and open,
Open onto unknown ancient depths of being.
Have we just met
Or have we been before many times
In the presence of the mystery that is each of us?
The mystery which is expressed through the fact of our existence,
The universe whose consciousness is us.
We wonder at the separateness of a stranger
Even as we find a oneness in our wonder.
Christmas and yoga
Christmas… A celebration of the birth of Jesus dating back to around at least the third century A.D., with uncertain origins, but certainly including both Christian and pagan content.
Yoga… A philosophy and practice dating back maybe 5000 years or more, possibly to the Indus Valley civilisation.
They are the same. Essentially.
Huh!? You may say… How can they be the same?
It’s actually simple and clear. The word yoga derives from a Sanskrit verb meaning to “yoke together”, specifically yoking together body, mind and spirit through physical, mental and spiritual practices, disciplines and virtues.
Christmas (Christ’s mass, or the sacred feast day dedicated to Christ) celebrates the embodiment of the divine in human existence.
Yoga teaches that the deep essential nature of each of us is perfect, pure and divine. Christianity says the same about Christ.
Thus yoga and Christmas are celebrations of the spirit embodied. “Hail the incarnate deity”, as the carol says. In yoga terms, “Ham sa”: I am that [which is pure perfect and divine].
Welcome to Shala Om.
But what can that mean, you may wonder.
Well, “Shala” means “house” and is often used to refer to a place in which yoga is practised.
And “Om”…. Well there have literally been thousands of pages voted to describing what Om is. The most succinct and barest idea I can offer you he is that it is the vibration of The Universe.
So Shala Om is a place dedicated to being in harmony with the universe through the wisdom and practice of yoga. This website is dedicated to that purpose.
Use the menu above to explore and contribute to our online community.
“I am that
which is pure and divine”:
not a spark
or a drop,
but the essence.
that sits in meditation by the lake
will return to the earth,
the dust of stars;
so there is a coming and going in God.
The so-hum, hum-sa of breath;
and a universe of one breath,
expanding and contracting,
collapsing to nothing,
a wave of sound,
just one note,
swelling and fading,
all the expanse of space-time
only one note,
one rising, vanishing
moment in the Holy Song
*so-ham and its reverse ham-so are Sanskrit mantras used in some types of meditation. They mean “I am that” i.e. I am “part of” or “one with” or “connected to” everything that is, on every plane of existence, in every mode and scale, macrocosm and microcosm. It’s a pretty far out concept! Thanks to Madhuriji for introducing this to me.