Do we really need “scientific proof?”, research, studies to validate the effects and healing potential of yoga?
What is and/or is there a difference between “men’s yoga” and “woman’s yoga”?
What are the benefits? Limitations? Expectations?
We must have an open mind and not be limited towards the superficiality of such information that you're exposed to. Yoga was founded by master meditators who shared this information with deserving students. There are over 10,000 years of “proven information" and the depth of content that the average mind isn't privy to yet.
To judge a poster, or anything of the like nature that portrays yoga and the various levels of its incredible depth, can be a limitation in and of itself based on mis-education. Presupposing that we need some scientific studies to validate the extent of what yoga has to offer may be rooted in misconceived notions. This modern way of thinking that we require modern data, to support the already existing science of yoga, comes from a mind that is prone towards dysfunctional patterns which is the vicious cycle that modern science is limited by, called ignorance. We’re practicing a science that is as much artful as it is medically based, especially since yoga is traditionally coupled by Ayurveda which is a medical science and practice. It seems that the average training is based on limitation and I suggest going to the source of where it all came from which is from deep within, but not in the mind. Superficial practices of yoga may produce tone, muscle, strength and neurological coordination but it doesn't mean anything if the spiritual components are voided. Furthermore, these are only the by-products and can be limitations as an aspirant doesn't realize what he/she is really doing and from my experience I've had to undo damage done by asanas practiced by those who do not truly understand it. We traditionalists see that each of the 72,000 yoga poses that exists serve as a key to unlocking realms beyond the average minds capacity to comprehend. Simply put, the mind wasn't meant to understand something bigger than itself. Simply put, the mind was meant to be the servant and not the master. I have appreciation for the beauty depicted by the men in such poses that show majestic qualities and perfected sculptures and I must just say I appreciate the beauty of a man’s body with strength and such coordination but there's a whole universe beyond that. I'd much rather have that infinite peace that comes with it than limit myself to just a hot six pack.
FYI, modern science and medicine have and continue to show direct evidence proving what the ancient yogis have said in regard to parts of the body holding cell and memory. The evidence is growing here in the west but this is old news to countries in the east. Additionally, I wouldn't have needed this data to prove something I understood with my deeper wisdom around this. Actually, it's kind of “common sense” to think that if I'm doing an asana geared towards opening my chest that the heart and lungs are located beneath and that if I'm breathing into that area and stretching, holding etc. and that if I have unresolved emotions (which we know embeds in connecting tissues and fat cells) then they will be released with pranayam (“life” controlling techniques involving the breath) and intention and the simple “mechanical” efforts of the asanas, even though the body is lined with numerous energy points and corresponding points of chi/prana. This is just an example from experience, personally and from having taught hundreds of students. It's there right in front of us. We just have to look instead of deny what we see because supposed "logic" says otherwise. That's ego. That's arrogance and that's the blind spot. We just have to broaden our vision and not allow cynicism, which is a tool of fear and ignorance, to persuade us further into ignorance. I share all this with you because I care. I share this with you because as a man I feel our culture as men has to rise up and beyond these sorts of limitations and soften up because doing the opposite will only hurt us more and as has been happening through the imbalances of the "patriarchal" models of fear and destruction. Our world needs less necessity for "scientific data" and more connection to a deeper wisdom that awaits us, which coincidentally rests in the matriarchal model of compassion and softening. I share all this with you because after 20 years of practicing traditional yoga I have seen all that it has to offer, both here in and around the USA and in India, the birth land of yoga. We should never discount or forget “our parents” and India is the parent and birth place of yoga. As parents are always within us, so is the ancient wisdom of the ancient seers that transmitted the yoga and shared it with the world.
By no means am I judging anyone and how they find their way to yoga. As a teacher once told me in the academy that as you grab one leg of a table, doesn’t matter which one, the rest of the table will follow. Similarly, whether an individual follows the path of yoga because they’re interested in “something” about it, be it the tone and muscle or the peace or the exercise or simply something to do on a Monday night, they will eventually follow it like a mouse follows cheese and find their way to the heart of it. Yoga calls us when we’re ready and it calls us individually as it meets us where we are at and we approach it from where we are at. There’s not wrong in it but there is a necessity to really understand it and not take it for face value because like any “exercise” if we don’t really understand what is good for us then something that could be good for us may end up being not so good for us and cause us harm either on a mental level or physical level. I'm not telling anyone anything as far as what they “should” do, so try not to let the mind get in the way with its defenses. (It seems patterned). I'm saying that it's a "no brainer" to us humble, advanced Ayurvedic yoga therapists and those of us versed in the tradition of yoga to say that each and every pose can be medicinal as well as poisonous. In Ayurveda, we know that there is no one size fits all and that when we practice/prescribe asana's, breathing techniques such as pranayam, mantra and anything like foods/diets/herbs and then some that this is where the potential for disaster lies. It's the misuse and misunderstanding of such principles and practices from the yoga and Ayurveda tradition that has caused some scarring upon them and then those of us who truly know what it's about have to undo the damage done by those who didn't have the correct understand and have now caused imbalances and diseases as a result of it. Not every pose or every routine or every pranayam or over diet is for everyone. But somehow the mis-education continues in this country and then yoga takes the wrap, one way or another. We can’t afford to have this happen. We can’t afford to give the current government any more ammunition to shoot down such practices. Isn’t it ironic though that some political figures, actors, athletes, physicians and scientists are slowly making their way into yoga and its tradition and learning how to share this with others? I think it’s great!
The idea of just taking yoga and using it as another exercise regimen is an act of ignorance because the poses were designed for a specific reason and not just to tighten abs. Yoga is designed to open the mind and not continue to foster the ego and its superficial existence. It does this through the heat of transformation, and we think that the heat we feel and the sweating that we experience from a “good” yoga practice was just that? No. To simply think and stand behind that yoga is an exercise is like giving a child a loaded gun and saying "have fun and play" because they look like a cool grown up. This isn't ideal and has caused much harm than good. Yoga and the asanas and all other techniques that come along with it are part of the main definition where yoga is known as the "science of self-realization"....not the “science of encouraged testosterone and physicality”. Students have come to me for over a decade, especially men seeking a more toned body etc., and I've always encouraged them to not stop there because there's more to it that brings greater and long lasting goodness, instead of stopping and having the short-term satisfaction of just physical appeal. So, for a number of reasons it is essential to not discount a 10,000+ year old practice and science.
Finally, the traditional practice of yoga is meant to balance both the feminine and masculine sides of us so that we are all balanced in both and aligned with spirit. Whether female or male, we are all hungry for this wisdom on some level. The soul is yearning for it. We are all starving and need to replenish. The superficial practices of yoga can only go so far until we have to really go in and discover the endless well and divine connection that awaits us. This is where we end up and from here is where we emanate with a beauty, glow, calm and inner wisdom that becomes addicting and can spread like wild fire when we give it the chance. Take the one leg, be curious and see where it takes you. Try not to let it stop there, because if you’re wondering why you may not be feeling all of life remember that it might be you stopping the current from flowing completely. Jump in and enjoy the ride. You have nothing to lose, except your ego, and much to gain like your freedom.
(Note: that this was inspired by a conversation with another guy who supports mainly the physical aspect and practice of yoga and suggested that his cynicism requires "scientific data" to support how yoga affects the emotional level).
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