Yoga in the last 100 years has become extremely popular worldwide but especially in the western world, young and old have been inspired by the yoga philosophy of stretching the body and expanding the mind through meditation. Many people may be influenced by their peers and their close relationships to practice yoga, some on their travels especially to India, SE Asia and there is plenty of Yoga in Chiang Mai Thailand, which has plenty of opportunities where people can experience and develop their understanding of yoga, some people may even join a gym in their place of residence and discover yoga there. Yoga today is so popular, that all can have access to yoga teachers and yoga classes wherever they live.
Modern day yoga teachers
There have been some interesting developments in the yoga world that many people who learn get inspired to teach yoga, which is not a bad thing as it has allowed yoga to flourish even further, creating an open door in yoga, especially in the last 30 years or so. The dilemma we face today is a modern yoga teacher on one hand can give you the tools for physical body work and possibly body purification, but they may not be able to help you further develop your internal yoga practices, as found in the meditational side of the practice, this is where the yoga teacher or practitioner gets loss in just spending most time doing yoga postures (asana), which continues the yoga aspirant to maintain the attachment to the physical body as their main priority, this limits the potential to discover the real aspects of yoga, which is really working and developing the mind and expanding into layers of our deeper consciousness.
Modern day limitations
Can we experience the goal of yoga as it is practiced today? The dilemma to this question is that, yoga today somehow is missing the mark; it has become a show of bodily manipulation and flexibility allowing the ego to predominate. So many people are practicing yoga, though they are not experiencing the higher conscious states that yoga is suppose to provide to the aspirant after a long duration of practice, the negative feelings and emotions are still anchored internally and even though one may become more flexible, their minds have not been able to expand into higher states of consciousness. There definitely needs a preparation period to work with oneself physically such as in yoga asana, this helps prepare the body and its physiology aspects, it also facilitates clearing of the energy lines allowing increased energy flow in to the body and especially to the brain, when combined with specific yoga breathing techniques (pranayama), this can take several years of development. The mind needs consistent work to integrate the yoga practitioner to their next level, we need constant practice in sitting Yoga Meditation to help us, if one can practice meditation and continue to practice the physical concepts of yoga (asana) then surely progression in the practice will gradually manifest and is assured.
The development of Yoga
• Preparing the physical, the body purification via asana.
• The ego known as Ahamkara must be naturalized.
• Prana the vital force must be regulated and empowered via pranayama
• The mind known as Manas and the senses must be regulated and internalized via concentration.
• Chitta the consciousness needs to integrate calmness and find stillness via meditation.
• Bhuddhi the intelligence must be re-established and developed
Yoga the path to Enlightenment
Now if we look at what constitutes a yoga teacher; one that can lead the aspirant to emancipation of physical body and life, freedom from bondage of the samsakras (karma), one that helps the student to unify and integrate to their very essence, most yoga masters or gurus prior to the 1970’s were spiritual aspirants that had reach a high level in their yoga practice (sadana) and had truly attained deeper states of conscious awareness, they experienced freedom from earthly and physical bondage, they had the experience and the map for reaching the mastery of life, they travelled the path so they could lead and show their aspirants to reach deeper levels of understanding, about who they really are and how to free themselves from the desires of life. From the 1970’s onwards, most of the real yoga masters from India had already been and gone, the changes towards the real aspects of yoga could only be grasped by a limited few, as the physical aspects were the main priority for most that practice yoga. As we moved more to this present day, the element of action or fire (rajas) has become more predominant in our daily lives, yoga has became more of a workout and a kind of an illusionary game, rather than a spiritual discipline for reaching enlightenment. So let’s put it this way, so many people practicing yoga but not so many practitioners finding emancipation physically, mentally and emotionally in their yoga practice, if this was the case we have to ask; where are all the enlighten Yogis?