How can we remain true to the tradition of yoga and still allow for the creative shifts of the 21st century? The ultimate goal of yoga is Self–knowledge, and the role of the yoga therapist/teacher is to assist people in becoming more self-aware. The Yoga Sutras, Eight Limbs, and the 5-Koshas are a framework and methodology of self-study that has been honed over thousands of years. It is important that we teach from this framework. New methods and ideas can be incorporated into yoga if they support the goal of Self–knowledge. Any practices we introduce should support healing and awareness at the levels of the koshas, and not become ends in themselves. We should guard against “re-inventing the wheel. New insights can come after many years of studying the same material. It is important to be humble, and continue learning and studying. But we also have to make our practice alive. We lead very different lives today than people did a thousand years ago. Yoga may need to nurture us in ways that are different from what people needed then. We should not be so bound to tradition that our practice becomes rote.
I think it comes down to having dedication to the teachings and traditions of yoga while bringing them alive, for ourselves and others. Humans are always on the search for novelty. This may be our best and worst trait! It is inevitable that as we continue to evolve, our practices for health and spirituality will continue to evolve too. My tai chi teacher once asked our class to consider not just what we take from tai chi, but also what we bring to it. This helped me to understand tai chi as a living art, expressed through the people who practice it. I see yoga the same way. It is important to adapt it to our 21st century lives, but we have to remain true to its original intent.
This is A Yogic Perspective by Susan Moore. Susan has just completed her Integrative Yoga Therapy Mentorship program with her mentor, Nancy Levenson.
NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is The Place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art. We are a private sanctuary located in the heart of Highlands Ranch that offers specialized private yoga therapy programs, classes, teacher training, workshops and retreats. Our founder is Nancy Levenson, a certified yoga therapist with a focus on providing wellness to our community. To inquire about any of our programs, reach us on our contact form, or call us directly at 303.725.1434.