I don’t believe that yoga is truly suited to most of the people of the world. It is a highly refined and elevated spiritual pathway that really starts with unconditional love of all beings. The pathway of yoga is not just the discovery of that love, but the elevation of that love to a transcendent experience where all is one, where my love and I are one. To walk around in the world with this attitude is no small ask, and I would suspect that not more than 1 in 10,000 people have the capacity to truly embody this experience, and not to simply play with it as an interesting experience like a drug that might be fun, but then allows you to return to a normal experience of reality when you need it.
However Yoga has become remarkably popular and there is a clamour of interest from people who want to taste the ecstasy, or perhaps are simply looking for something different to the conventional religion, or atheism that are the obvious options for approaching life today. Sometimes I want to dissuade people who I don’t think are suitable from taking the Yogic path, but today I am considering another way of responding to this slightly exaggerated interest in the Yogic pathway – perhaps it is time that people had the chance to taste the real experience of the depths of yoga, and to see if it is really for them.
If you are going to do Yoga perhaps it would be a good idea to do it in a way where you will get to experience the real thing – the full transcendental experience of uniting with the Divine that Yoga can bring. If you want to just stretch your body, understand some interesting philosophy, perhaps even do some fun and peaceful rituals, then who am I to say no – we are all free to explore life in the way that we feel most drawn to, but it would seem to me a bit more intelligent to taste the whole cake – to experience the sweetness, and not just the dry theory.
Every technique in Yoga has been designed specifically to have a particular effect on the consciousness and that effect is (or should be) “union” joining your consciousness with the consciousness of the universe, because that is what the word Yoga means – “union”. Done properly every technique has that profound power to transform your experience from the lonely isolated ordinary being in the world, to the connected being dissolved in the ocean of existence.
But rarely are we taught Yoga in this way. Rarely are the true precise techniques taught, and inevitably the teaching of Yoga has degenerated (not as badly as some other traditions i must admit) but there is a large swathe of Yoga teaching that actually creates an experience of duality, of separating yourself from the rest of the universe, and actually prevents you from experiencing the deepest experiences possibly within it. The most common trend I see is the glorification of the Hiranyamaya Kosha – the Ecstatic Loving layer of the mind that while in truth feels exciting and profound, still contains in it duality, so that the individual continues to experience love as a desire for more connection rather than as pure connection itself.
For those who want to learn the inner secrets of the true Yoga, we will soon be opening an online course through the school of oneness. Where we will explore Oneness through Yoga. It requires discipline, and for most people I think there are easier pathways, but if you are keen to learn then I am keen to teach the true depths of Yoga, and the full extent of where it can take you.
If I have managed to convince you against taking the Yogic path then there are a couple of other approaches – firstly although Yoga as a whole is a very demanding pathway, certain aspects of it you may find more suited to you – some will find the physical postures good exercise, but not so enjoy the meditation, and some the other way around. Some will get deeply into the philosophy and others into the spirituality in action and service. So if you would like to explore the true yogic path in a way that is less demanding, and more suited to your particular lifestyle and being, then that too can be arranged. The other approach is to choose a completely different tradition altogether – there are many great spiritual traditions that we have to choose from – kabbalah, to taoism, to mindfulness meditation. Each one of them of course has its secrets, and its methods, and ways to do it more deeply and more shallowly, and I will be doing my best to provide you with ways to explore the deepest of whichever tradition you choose.