Carol Horton’s post on Tara Stiles’ book still has legs so I thought I would add my two rupees here as a post.
I’m a jazz freak and usually listen to what is considered “real jazz” (as a Sirius XM satellite radio station is entitled) as opposed to “lite jazz” (as a former Chicago radio station billed itself.) Although I learned the piano as a child, I am not a jazz musician so I don’t know what technically makes jazz “real jazz” or “lite jazz” — all I know is that they each sound very different to my ears. However, I also have a “lite jazz” station programmed in my car radio. They advertise themselves as “contemporary jazz.”
The other day when I was driving I thought how appropo for yoga nowadays. If a teacher teaches an asana-only class — i.e,. no pranayama, no meditation, no chanting, no proper instructions on bandhas, no mention of chakras, no discussion on texts or philosophy — call the class “contemporary yoga” and call it a day. Don’t bother with any name branding, calling it vinyasa, or anything else. Just “contemporary yoga.”
Or if it’s an asana-only class, why call it yoga at all? Physical therapists use movements derived from yoga all the time but they don’t call it “yoga.” It’s physical therapy and everybody knows that is what it is. Nothing else.
Just like Frank Jude said in his comment to Carol’s post, I have also taught in places other than yoga studios. I started out at my local park district in a gym. But even nine years ago when supposedly there were a lot less people doing yoga, I never felt the need to water down yoga. Something brought people to my classes other than “slim sexy yoga” or “yoga for abs” when the number of asana-only “yoga” books did not exist as they do now. What brought them, what were they looking for?
I’ve also been told that more people are being brought to yoga now because of books like Tara Stiles’, allegedly a book for beginning students. If that is the case (i.e., more people doing yoga), then why did I have 40 students in a class nine years ago (when supposedly there was less awareness about yoga) and am lucky now to have 10 in a public class? I’m not the only teacher in my area who has experienced this.
Something in this modern yoga equation does not compute.
As Frank Jude said, “It’s so EASY to teach mindfulness, compassionate action, non-judgmental awareness, radical acceptance [my note: what is usually seen in “real yoga” classes] without using any yoga jargon, overt ‘spiritual’ terms or expressions.”
Indeed it is. So why the sea of change with the new generation of American yoga teachers?