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Does the practice of Yoga still hold the weight it once did?

If the practice of Yoga did hold more weight at some period of time, when was this, and why did it change?

This topic will take a few ongoing conversations to fully cover.  With that said, I’m going to be bouncing around to different time periods and hopefully tying it all back together at the end.  Today, I’m going to begin this discussion in the 1960’s.

I’m sure some of my readers might have a better handle on what happened in the 1960’s than I do, but from what I understand people weren’t very happy with the status quo. Young people began asking questions and weren’t buying what was being sold to them by the media and politicians.  The hippy movement was born.

I’m sure all the good acid going around played big role in this. People starting thinking outside the box. Music helped. Music can open people up to a new way of thinking. Music is so powerful that Plato felt for a utopia to exist you would need to have control over the music. When the Berlin wall came down there were kids up on the wall chanting, “Iron Maiden!” That’s pretty heavy.  This is one of the reasons I often use music in my group classes but not in workshops.

In group classes people need an opiate to get them out of the rat race maze, or hamster wheel our brains get trapped spinning in.   In workshops and retreats people are more prepared to challenge themselves to go deeper.  They have time to slow down, and open up to the experience, but in am hour and half yoga class jammed in the middle of a busy day music is a great tool to open the doors of consciousness.

Back to the 60’s.

So people were turning their backs on conformity, and giving up previous notions on social boundaries.  As a reaction, consciousness began to swing the other extreme.   Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Fully open with little discrimination. Do what feels good. Liberate your soul by indulging the senses.

Some looked for another path.

Some began looking for something other than external stimuli to free their minds. Some looked to religions, some joined cults, some starting looking inward.  My parents were a couple of these hippies. (This is how I was introduced to yoga, and got schooled about the 60’s.) They tried it all, and then found mantra and meditation.

They had found Bhakti Yoga.

So there are some different types of Yoga, different paths or margas. Each is a path toward self realization and spiritual enlightenment.  Karma Marga is  the path of work and duty.  Bhakti Manga is the path of “devotion to and love of a personal god”.  Jnana Marga is the path of wisdom or knowledge for the more intellectually inclined.  Yoga manga is the path of controlling the mind through meditation. Raja Yoga, or royal yoga is inclusive of all the yogas and implies complete mastery of  the mind, senses, emotions and the Self. Hatha Yoga is the umbrella name for the most he asana (posture) based yoga we practice in the west.  B.K.S. Iyengar feels that the yoga of Patanjali, (what I’m trying to teach, but not very well) Astanga yoga, is a blend of Hatha and Raja.

My mom met the Hare Krishnas, Bhakti Yogis, at Woodstock, my Dad in the subways of New York. They each gave up all their worldly possessions for a meditation mat and went on a decade long spiritual journey. After some time they each parted ways with the organization to seek other paths, met a couple years after and had Me. Even though my parents transitioned into more conventional householder lives, I could always sense my parents ability to access stillness.  From all the years they had dedicated to practicing and studying Yoga,  it was clear that they had spent some serious time in touch with something beyond the physical.


A preview of next weeks post:

…Yoga went from being something very dangerous to something cheap on Groupon.

From a counter cultural movement to something Investment groups could package and sell.

I know that I’m guilty of supporting this by how I title my youtube videos. Selling yoga as purely a means to physical fitness, enhanced well-being, and reduced stress, instead of a path to enlightenment (to break free of the cycle of reincarnation).

The ancient texts describe the true path as being for one in a million…

  • Dawn Flaherty

    This post confirms why I resonated with the very first video of yours I stumbled on two years ago – my mom was a hippy and my father too – Woodstock too! We grew up vegetarian and I was introduced to Bhakti yoga through my mother. (for which I am eternally grateful!) Looking forward to Part 2 of your blog! …. PS South Africa (where I’m from) had a very close-knit, devoted following of Iyengar yoga students in the 60’s. Iyengar himself wasn’t allowed into the country though to come and give teaching workshops, (apartheid era), so these devoted followers made the trek to neighbouring African countries (I think it was Malawi or Kenya) where they could attend his workshops. There is still a section of very purist Iyengar followers here. PPS I finally got my own copy of Light on Yoga today from a charity shop. Feeling happy!!

    • Wow, I never knew about that with Iyengar in South Africa. I’m happy to hear you finally got your copy of light on Yoga! That book is a little treasure for Practitioners who want to go deeper. I’ve been wanting to take a trip out there for a long time now, be on the look out for a possible workshop or retreat in the next couple years.
      Glad to hear you’re a fellow hippy child who’s take up yoga as well 😉