Yoga is not Buddhism, but there is a belief in Buddhism that the journey is far more important than any personality or cult of leadership that may form. This is valid when applied to the practice of yoga, especially amidst all the "guru" scandals that have arisen in the past 100 years, not the least of which is Bikram. The practice and the journey are more important than any single teacher or personality.
"Throughout his life [Gotama, the Buddha] fought against the cult of personality, and endlessly deflected attention of his disciples from himself. It was not his life and personality but his teaching that was important... If people started to revere Gotama the man, they would distract themselves from their task, and the cult could become a prop, causing an unworthy dependence that could only impede spiritual progress."
- From Buddha by Karen Armstrong
(Has it really been a month since I've posted?!)
Practicing for myself has always been easy. Who else would I be practicing for? Recently, two developments have unfolded that make it more difficult for me to practice. They are revealing about the ego.
First, I have been teaching more. A lot more. Big classes, small classes, vigorous classes, gentle classes, fast ones and slow ones. Much of my focus is on the students, what they need, and how to communicate effectively with them. Each class needs a different approach, both a game plan beforehand and also the ability to change when things inevitably don't go as planned.
As I teach more, I also practice more. I demonstrate many things in class and often accompany the students in the postures for solidarity and motivation. I also practice a lot in preparation to teach, to familiarize myself with the movements and breath that I will ask the students to do.
But all this practice is not for me. It is focused on communication and service of my students.
Second, as my personal practice develops it moves inward and out of sight. It still requires time and concentration, even more than before, but Breathing exercises and Meditation are invisible. They don't develop new muscles or fancy new postures. So if I base my progress on my old measures, like growing flexibility and strength, it sometimes feels like I am stalled or sliding backward.
This only means that my relationship to my own practice is changing. It must change if I am to keep moving forward. My measures of progress will have to change, away from depth of stretch and drops of sweat, toward balance of energy, stillness of mind, and awareness and control of breath.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga