My thoughts are that traditionally yoga was about community and therefore it needed to be practiced in a particular way under the guidance of the most experienced person in that community. In today’s modern society we see so much fragmentation and the definition of community is much more diverse. The person teaching yoga comes in many shapes and forms. The yoga teacher today may not be the most proficient at contorting their body into unusual shape, they may not be specialised in pranayama technique in fact your yoga teacher may not even be into yoga (in the traditional sense). Your yoga teacher may be good at bringing that sense of spirituality to you in another form.
A yoga teacher for you as an individual may well be several yoga teachers teaching at a single venue. Each one bringing something that you find appealing and allowing you to learn something different.
For me personally I find a yoga teacher in everything, everywhere, every day and in everyone I encounter. When I water my garden, when I go for a walk and even when I make a cup of tea and when I do grocery shopping.
I choose to have an open mind to life’s lessons, to practicing one-pointed centeredness, being mindful and present and having unification of mind and body at all times. It doesn’t mean I am present all the time but I practice yoga every moment I can. This includes a daily yoga asana practice. I practice hatha yoga, restorative yoga and power yoga for me in my own home, on my own to suit my body and my state of mind at that point in time. This practice is important to me. But so is practicing in a group yoga class. Either on my own or within a group I get to tune into my body and my mind. I allow myself to be present in both situations.
Practicing centeredness when I am interacting with others is challenging and this is when real yoga begins for me. My reactions or actions to other people are some of the biggest yogic lessons I have ever had. In fact this is my test time to see if I am truly balanced and have learned from my daily practice.
So by practicing yoga within a group with a teacher that serves a purpose for us in today’s modern society is as important as practicing in solitude. Having an attitude of yoga on and off the mat is real yoga as far as I am concern. This is community yoga. This is yoga how it should be practiced. It may not be how it is traditionally taught and we may be straying from how the original gurus meant for it to be but then I am not entirely convinced of that.
What are your thoughts on how traditional yoga was meant to be?