The destination called Yoga
- Imagine that you are taking a sacred pilgrimage (yatra) to a sacred
place in the height of the Himalayas. In you journey you might fly on
an airplane, ride in a car, and do lots of walking. The whole journey
enroute is one of pilgrimage due to your heartfelt conviction for the
destination you are seeking.
However, at any given moment, there are thousands of airplanes in the
sky around the planet. There are millions and millions of people
riding in cars. There are still many more millions who are walking
somewhere. Are all of these people on a yatra, a sacred pilgrimage to
the Himalayas? Of course not. The thing that makes airplane riding,
car riding, and walking a yatra is the intentionality in the heart
for the destination being sought.
The fact that one wiggles the body this way or that, or does some
breathing practice does not, unto itself constitute Yoga. Yoga is the
journey (yatra) towards Yoga, which is the union being sought. People
might have different ways of describing that union called Yoga, such
as to say it is Jivatman knowing itself as Paramatman, or the union
of Shiva and Shakti, or the convergence point of Purusha and
Prakriti. However this union or Yoga might be described specifically,
they have to do with the union called Yoga.
If one is not working with relationships in the external world, with
one's personality, with the body, with the breath, or the levels of
mind with this kind of intentionality towards the destination called
Yoga, then the process along the way is simply not Yoga.
Here is a link to the site of a man who teaches breathing:
http://breathing.com/ I know a couple people who have taken his
training and speak highly of him and his practices. Though I have not
met him, I admire his work because he does NOT call it Yoga, even
though breath training is a part of Yoga. Frankly, it may have never
crossed his mind to call this training Yoga. He mentions that breath
work will help with over 100 diseasese, clearly a statement of
health, not realization of unity or Yoga. This is as it should be.
So how is it that others who teach that work with body, breath and
mind do call their practices Yoga, while completely ignoring the goal
or destination of Yoga? Should we say that massage therapists,
respiratory therapists, and psychotherapists are all teaching Yoga
because they are working with body, breath, and mind? Of course not.
The destination of Yoga is Yoga, period. Any other use of the
practices are simply not Yoga.