The Library

Material Gains and Yoga

 
Since I began teaching yoga in about 1969 I have seen a number of fashions come and go.  Today there seem to be almost as many `styles` of yoga as there are well known yoga teachers.  It would appear in today`s world that you need to think up a name and `Hey presto`, you have a unique style to bring the punters (and the ús or $s!!!) rolling in.  Marketing and promotion have become de rigour , but at what cost?  If we look at the origins of yoga, and there is a lot of debate as to when that may have been, an essential feature was the relationship between the guru (teacher) and the shishya (pupil).  Although not a religion, yoga has always been seen as a spiritual discipline, and one where material gain was not the primary aim.  Perhaps things changed when yoga was popularised in the west, initially it has to be said by the very Indians who had lived as renunciates, and survived with a minumum of material goods.  Today yoga millionaires are created by skillful media manipulation.  There are those who enjoy and justify their wealth as just a realistic aspect of modern society, even to the extent of trying to patent their yoga teaching style.  There are those who lead huge numbers of devotees and claim to `own` nothing but are kept in the lap of luxury by their followers who conveniently  pick up the bills of their lavish life styles.
 
We can all admit to being influenced by these sort of aspects of our society, and yoga teachers are no exception.  It is satisfying to be recognised, and to be comfortably well off.  But we all also owe it to the society in which we live to be aware of the temptations when things begin to go too far.  This is where `tapas` can be useful.  A little self denial, and hardship, can help to keep our feet on the ground, and our heads clear of the clouds of materialism.  It`s a hard road and I don`t claim to be any better than anyone else, but perhaps we owe it to those first teachers of yoga to at least try and maintain the standards which they set.
 
It is a good time, in the run up to Christmas to look for a way in which we can serve and help others.  Giving time, or money, or your prayers are ways in which we can put our yoga into practice in a world where poverty, hunger, suffering and pain are always with us. 
 
For anyone wanting to take their  study of yoga to a deeper level, look at the Yoga Course syllabus page.  The subjects listed there are covered in the talks I give at the beginning  of classes.  In the Library is the written basis of those talks.  While they are not `copyright` I would ask anyone using them in other situations to acknowledge their source.  Thankyou.
 
I hope to see you in classes, or keep in touch via email etc
Yours in yoga
DEREK / Swami SHIV GIRI Baba                   2005 Oct

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