Increasingly around the world people are taking yoga and mixing it with various forms of fitness and calling it yoga. In fact, even most ‘traditional’ Yoga classes don’t involve Pranayam and Dhyaan. In that context shouldn’t we look to re-name “Yoga” classes into simply “Asana” classes? And then you can have Acro-Asana or SUP Asana and there won’t be any belittling of the Yoga science.
Trivial as that may sound; it may be the most logical solution. When a Gym offers a Power Yoga class that attracts students who want to tone their Abs or Butt mainly and who have little interest in Meditation; shouldn’t that class that be called Power Asana? I don’t think that the Teachers and Students would really mind, and in fact it would help everyone understand what the class offers better. Also, Yoga has become so mainstream now that most people recognize the term “Asana”. It’s perceived as primarily a body-work practice within yoga which maintains health and fitness of the Body.
Otherwise, entering a modern studio Yoga class, one is always caught between what you see happening there and the sage-like Yogis you see in the Himalayas. The disconnect is way too stark to call both these sets of people as Yogis, don’t you think? One group is track pant-clad, sipping green teas and perfecting their downward dogs whilst the other Yogis are persons whose life is dedicated to a yogic pursuit of seeking Kaivalya or Enlightenment. While I jokingly refer to my students as yogis; there is no doubt that this is a very revered term actually kept aside in India for the Enlightened Beings.
As more people are drawn to Yoga for a wide variety of needs from the pure physical requirements of weight loss and toning, to the de-stressing effects of calming the mind, to therapeutic effects of yoga practice – it is up to the Teachers of today to uphold the legacy of all those extraordinary Yogis who have dedicated their lives to discovering what it means to be Human. And modern Teachers are increasingly required to pass on that holistic standpoint of Yoga to their students. Even in the ever-competitive marketplace of modern yoga where innovation is perhaps the only way to become known; Teachers and Students alike are asking themselves …. “Is this really Yoga?” Enough said.