What Exactly Is This Yoga That I Am Teaching?

yogaLast week I read an interesting piece about alignment and its relative importance to yoga. It was written by an Indian woman who reflected on the eight limbed path and asana’s limited role in the grand scheme of the yoga practice.

I wholeheartedly agree with everything she wrote but of course have to add my two cents. I am a “yoga” teacher because that is the name given to the exercise practice that I teach. At this moment I could work at a gym or open a studio and try to sell “exercise” classes, or come up with a special name for my type of yoga, but I don’t think anyone would show up.

What I do is called yoga but what I teach is an exercise routine loosely based around traditional yoga poses with a very specific emphasis on alignment and posture. I think this is a legitimate approach but not genuinely yoga.

I’m not saying that all yoga teachers are like me but I wonder what the percentage is.

And I might add that I’m not ignorant of yoga philosophy. When I first began taking and then teaching yoga I dove fairly deep into the literature especially the big three: The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana and the Yoga Sutra.

Having run a number of teacher trainings using these texts I became wonderfully familiar with their content. And I love them. Especially the Ramayana with the awesome monkey Hanuman who I revered from the minute I entered Jivamukti Yoga Center in 1995.

But at the heart of the matter am a Jew with a healthy (I think) antipathy for all religions. I am fond of all of their philosophies and appreciate many of their rituals, but I also choose not to believe.

And yet I am a yoga teacher.

What is a boy to do?