Yoga as we have come to know it in the western world has been shaped into an exercise for good health and well being. There is nothing wrong with that as it has had such a positive impact on the lives of many and has opened the door to bigger and better things in peoples lives. What I find that bothers me the most though is the lack of connection to what yoga truly is.
Most people get stuck in the asana, or pose, and their focus is perfecting said pose or poses to perfection. They want to go further with their bodies, they look at the person next to them in class and judge and compare themselves. This leads to aggression and an attack on yourself via your body. Some disciplines emphasise this so much to the point where people lose sight of why they are practicing in the first place. Bikram yoga even has a yoga competition. Whatever thats supposed to mean. It's more like a ego battle if you ask me. They meet annually and compete on a stage showing off their asana. Showing their ass is more like it.
Your body is simply a vehicle for consciousness and we are not supposed to get hung up on it. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves and that's the whole point of the physical side to yoga as we know it but yoga is so much more. We are supposed to go beyond that. A yoga practice is supposed to take care of the body but more importantly it is there to quiet the mind.
When the mind is quiet we can take time to listen to our True Self, Atman. That's what is meant by union in yoga. Not union with who you think you are but who you truly are. There is a huge difference. Which is not ego but pure consciousness. Our connection to this false sense of self is what causes pain and suffering in our lives. When we remove the false self the only thing that remains is consciousness.
That is our goal in yoga. To shake off the false sense of self so that we can be who we are truly meant to be. When this is accomplished life as we know it ceases to exist and a new magical world unfolds before our very eyes. Things that we never thought possible now seem effortless. It's truly a life changing experience. Trust me, I'm there.
The goal is enlightenment not a flat belly and tight ass. If thats our goal then we're doing it wrong. I'm not against people doing yoga only for the sake of physical exercise but then you should also respect the practice for what it truly is at the same time and not let your ego fill the room.
Getting lost in our ego is just as bad as getting lost in our guru. They are all distractions from the practice itself which is destroying the ego and merging with our True Self. If anyone tells you differently they themselves are not yet enlightened regardless of how many years they have been practicing and how many teachers they have studied underneath.
Be careful who you follow.. even if its yourself. Take charge, take control and kill your ego.