Yoga is a rather controversial and questionable concept in the minds of many. For some, it leads to enlightenment and relaxation and for others, it is a pointless waste of time. The disconnection between traditional practices and outcomes is evident, in that disbelief and inability to concentrate and practice overtake the benefits and positives of yoga. Yoga has always been closely connected to traditional practice and beliefs of select people.
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It has become a part of life and a division of philosophy that helps and guides through the challenges that people face. But even though it has had close encounters with people’s thoughts and hearts, it is also seen as a separate entity, being of different world and space. Yoga can be traced to the ancient times and has become a part of society.
Many people view it as a way of life, even a religion. The fact that it is so unique also distances it from many people. There is a limited number of individuals that can master the true skill of yoga and develop the technique that will be beneficial to them. Societies view yoga as physical exercises and not as a religion (Anderson 3).
Yoga opens up a lot of controversy, where people of different religions can be blamed for taking part in other religious beliefs through its practice. The age of yoga and the methods of Hindu monks contribute to the disbelief people attribute to the truth of yoga and its sincerity towards other religions. People are said to participate in a form of a ritual and thus, are practicing a different religion from their own.
Presently, there are numerous discussions about yoga and its true nature. Many people say that it is not connected to religion and is a process that can only lead to negative things. The argument about this point of view is that there is only one true way to reach salvation and it is God.
As most of the world believes in God that is a single entity, it is unclear, to the believers, how yoga can help find true peace and understanding. An interesting point about yoga is that it has no end and there is no God on the way or anywhere. It is meant to practice self knowledge and reach understanding that is far from human regular thoughts and feelings.
This can be seen as blasphemous because religion is thought to be one of the strongest points of humanity. If it does not contain God, it is said to be evil. The ways of attaining true knowledge and understanding are unique to everyone but religion encourages everyone to use the same ways. Yoga is said to be very similar to religion, in the fact that everyone has a chance to practice it and there are same techniques in finding the true meaning of one’s life.
But the modern world has added another perspective to the comprehension of religion. The search for the self has become a very individual and private practice that cannot be attained through going to churches, praying and believing. Yoga has somewhat separated itself from regular beliefs because traditionally, people have had a certain criteria to abide by, to follow rules and regulations that were set by their ancestors.
The origins of yoga are also traditional and set up by previous generations but the difference is in the process itself. It uses seemingly old methods but they lead to an understanding that is new, different and unique from the previous ones. Every person has an individuality that is never repeated in anyone else.
It cannot be quantified and divided into pieces, thus it is impossible to duplicate. Religion has become weaved into human society so much that anything different is thought to be wrong.
Yoga is often said to lead to the gates of heaven and peace but this is a direct contradiction with what religion teaches. God is the only path and people should swear their allegiance to Him only. Yoga contradicts beliefs that most people have, setting the division between regularity and strangeness.
Just as there is a connection to the common public and unity of all people, yoga is a search for the self, as previously mentioned. Patanjali writes about yoga in the following terms: “Even though proper moral action in the world is not the goal of yoga, a great vow to live by the universal principles of nonviolence, truthfulness, avoidance of stealing, celibacy, and poverty is specified as a precognition for further yogic practice” (Patanjali2).
This statement shows how private yoga can be and how different it is from the goals of the population. But the opposite is also true, as the laws and rules of the modern world are directed at the same thing-preservation of peace, absence of violence and moral rights and freedoms.
The difference is that the goals of many people—society, are much different from the individuals’. Family, closest relatives and person’s own well-being are the primary care for anyone. Yoga teaches inner goodness and peace with the self and the surrounding environment, which is Nature.
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But, for some reason, people are sometimes thought to be apart from Nature. The violent and selfish acts that are often attributed to humanity and are true, cannot be united with peace and love. Yoga has the connection to natural being but the spiritual path that leads to salvation can be seen as “too spiritual”, not of this world.
People have been raised to believe in limits and ends. The Earth has certain physical boundaries that people cannot overtake. Yoga takes a step away from these traditional beliefs and promises people things of a world much different from this one. The regular duties and responsibilities that are taught since childhood, are service to the country and community. Anyone who moves away from this line of thinking is thought of as deviant.
Even though some people have changed their predisposed way of thinking, anything different from normality is thought to be immoral and strange. Yoga follows the same path, as people who practice it are not traditional, they are said to be following something that is ancient and not modern.
Those who follow regular rules and beliefs are surprised when they learn that someone is practicing yoga. People without specific knowledge about yoga are not sure what it really is and consider it very different from the regular life (Rosen 20). Everyone is familiar that it is also spiritual but the disbelief that the end goals and states of yoga are exaggerated is quite strong. The society lives by one standard and the individual by another.
The majority believes that there is happiness and it is attainable but not with ease and quick solutions. Yoga does not provide quick solutions either but it promises happiness and salvation. It is true that this is exactly what people strive towards but at the same time, there are doubts and disbelief that it is possible to achieve.
It becomes almost “unwanted” because then there will be nothing to work towards. Everyone wants to be happy but is afraid to be happy. It is a contradiction in and of itself, due to the fact that it is an eternal goal, something that cannot be accomplished in this lifetime.
Yoga is much different from God, as it makes an individual path, a way for everyone to find their own true meaning but it is God-like also since it is the search for one’s soul and happiness. This is usually found through pain and suffering, loss and limits. But as always, perspective differs true meaning: “A “thug” in American newspapers is an armed robber.
But the name is derived from a North Indian community of the last century, whose members not only gained a livelihood through armed robbery but considered it a religious duty” (Behanan 3). Who is to say what is right and wrong? People believe that in order to receive something great, they must earn it by bleeding and fighting.
Yoga offers a practical method to love and joy without significant stress or pain. This is not very traditional because people were led to believe otherwise. Years of human history and grandparents’ stories have taught people that accomplishments are not easy to come by.
The general belief is that salvation is only attainable by a select few and these people must be special and unique. Yoga creates a possibility for everyone who has some form of will power and determination. For the majority of people, this goes against their beliefs and traditions. It is humorous that the simplest solution is the obvious and closest one but this fact is still disbelieved and negated by many.
Yoga is not given the much deserved attention; it is mostly treated as an exercise routine that is meant to physically strengthen the body. It is possible to suppose that it is an excuse people make for themselves because the path itself is hard and long. Yoga is not a quick solution to the problem; it is a way of life that must be absolved in its every aspect. “A true aspirant has to conform strictly with all the rules set down by yoga discipline” (Rajarshi 8).
This is a hard criterion for most to follow and so, yoga is disregarded as something strange and different from reality. People are used to things that are easy, quick solutions and material things. Yoga parts with the spiritual and divine, which is so unfamiliar to most. Religion has become a part of life because it is much easier.
The majorities go to church, contribute financially and pray when things go bad but religion is much more. Those who truly believe know the sacrifices and battles with the self that true belief requires. The same can be said about yoga and its truth is exactly what sets it far from the regular traditions that people possess.
Yoga has been around for ages, many people practice it but less understand the true meaning and power of yoga. The fact that people know about it, does mean acceptance into the society and regular living conditions. Yoga’s age has not been a determinant in people’s relationship towards it; it has stayed strange and unknown for most.
Anderson, Sandra. Yoga: Mastering the Basics. Honesdale, United States: Himalayan Institute Press, 2000. Print.
Behanan, Kovoor. Yoga: Its Scientific Basis. Toronto, Canada: Courier Dover Publications, 1937. Print.
Patanjali. Yoga: Discipline of Freedom. Los Angeles, United States: University of California Press, 1996. Print.
Rajarshi. Awakening the Life Force. St. Paul, United States: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2001. Print.
Rosen, Richard. Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga. Boston, United States: Shambhala Publications, 2012. Print.