Teaching Yoga Through Science (or the other way around?)

I mainly teach yoga anatomy as well as the history & philosophy of yoga in the YTTs (Hatha/Prenatal/other)…but I’d like to weigh in on the idea that some folks hold of having a sole focus on anatomy & physiology in a yoga teacher training especially coming from an Indian standpoint and returning the focus of the training back to yoga.
Yoga is not just asana – in fact, in the most relevant of yogic texts, the focus isn’t even on physiological well-being, let alone body parts and wellness. I disagree with the clubbing of yoga with what ‘modern yoga’ needs (physical & physiological correctness) because that’s just another way of breaking an ancient practice to suit commercial or dominant culture. Yoga is an ancient wisdom science that works on the spiritual body through the mind and there is no modernization of it by shifting the focus towards body, body and more body. Whitewashing it to suit the logic of the western understanding and demanding strict adherence and understanding of A&P or the hard sciences of movement dilutes and takes away from yoga as a practice and a lifestyle and limits it to suit the agenda of a dominate culture. If one is looking to train as a body movement specialist, then by all means train to the utmost and demand for training in movement, biomechanics, physics and such, but then that is not a yoga teacher training…. at all… not even if the trainer wants to call it that… make that ‘especially if the trainer wants to call it yoga’. It is not yoga and not a yoga teacher training. It is something else.
Essentially yoga needs to have a foundation in the yogic science and philosophy and in itself is a complete science without western science entering to validate it. Saying that you would rather teach a yoga of biomechanics and not give due importance to nadis, chakras, culture, nuance or any other more subtle philosophical sentiments and topics is being selective and isolating… and well, harmful. One can choose to learn & teach what one wishes to based on one’s leaning, but one cannot and should not choose to define yoga and its practices on a whim or personal belief or selective definition – and definitely not when there is a financial gain involved by way of a teacher training program. You cannot defile yoga by eliminating certain parts of it and then teach that modified something as a ‘yoga’ teacher training.
My request to students who would like to take up yoga teacher training – if you are willing to fully immerse in the practice and philosophy and culture of yoga as it is as well as find ways to integrate your study alongside the logical, critical thought process, then please dip into it. If you are looking for a body work or body movement and dynamics training & qualification to only suit the logical side of your understanding and are a willing to have ‘a bit of the philosophy’ for added flavour, then you may want to reflect on why you are signing up for a ‘yoga’ teacher training. They are two different things and yoga is being commodified, diluted and misrepresented in such trainings to suit a more commercialized agenda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s