I read a post by Nicolas Bastert and wanted to reflect on it:
Regarding “I suggest to everyone curious about the incredible transformative power of Yoga to focus on the spiritual or mental practices rather than what we refer to as modern Asana. “
This statement implies that there is less transformative power in “modern Asana”. This viewpoint is often held by people practicing what they consider deeper or more authentic aspects of yoga. I study with a yoga school in Europe that considers modern Asana as nothing more than gymnastics.
But as a counterpoint, I was at a Kwan Um Zen practice center in Southwest Ranches, FL and one person there said:
anything can be zen as long as you do it mindfullyGeorge, a student a South Florida Zen Group
That means that chicken nugget yoga, beer yoga, nude yoga, taking out the trash, watching the football game, macking on a hot chick can all be done mindfully and if they lead to absorption then they are the practice that you needed for that purpose.
Regarding “whatever stance you take with regards to the historical claims of modern Yoga, people seem to agree that the physical “exercise”-like practice of Yoga is a fairly recent development. “
This implies that older practices are more connected to ‘Source’ – that Big Bang-like thing from which everything emanated. Those closer a practice is to that big bang, the more spiritual bang it has.
But what about evolution? Is a Model T ford superior to a new Ferrari? Would you rather use an old phone or a modern cell phone?
Does The Work of Byron Katie suck because she made it up all by herself? She was in a halfway house ready to die and a bug crawled across the floor, enlightening her. Her technique was not done 5000 years ago.
And of course, this presumes linear time. If you listen to Archaix, you would see that time is only a 138 year cycle and it is not linear. The exact nature of time should be explored over time.
Regarding “historian Mark Singleton (in his book The Truth About Yoga) point out, that Yoga shares uncanny similarities to Scandinavian Gymnastics practices as well as Calisthenics, which was practiced by the British army (which infamously occupied India in the dark times of imperialism and colonialism).”
we first must note that Yoga has at least a few other paths:
in addition to the hatha yoga that this historian is talking about, right?
Regarding “As mentioned, most scholars seem to agree that Yoga as a physical practice is a fairly recent development and I would recommend to everyone to explore the other 7 limbs of Yoga.”
Again, there are not just 7 other limbs of yoga. There are 7 other limbs of raja yoga, but there are countless other yogas – whatever leads to absorption is a yoga.
Yoga as a physical practice was used in different ways in earlier times:
- specific asanas were prescribed for specific ailments. Bikram cured many people before developing his 26 postures. The same cannot be said of British calisthenics
- In Viniyoga, each person’s temperament would lead to prescribing certain postures.
K. Pattabhi Jois stated: “simply practice and all is coming. The mind floods effortlessly towards the self” and I can attest to the fact that Ashtanga Yoga continuously pumps your navel point throughout the set. It looks like physical postures but the requirements of the navel region mean you are basically doing kapalabhati breathing during the whole set.
If modern asana is just a physical practice, then what did Patanjali codify?