Asana classes and asana studios: It is so unfortunate that the word “Yoga” has so often been used in place of the word “asana” or “posture” in recent years. We would not call a brick a “house” even though it is part of the construction. Yet, this is what is often done with Yoga. The first word of Yoga Sutras is “atha” which means “now,” implying a prior preparation. One may do postures for years and finally be ready for Yoga. To call it “Yoga” before that time is a misnomer. If we had “asana classes” and “asana studios” that would be a great service to people. Then the word “Yoga” could be appropriately used for the journey that one begins when truly understanding the history and nature of authentic, traditional Yoga.
Yoga “On” and “Off” the Mat:
Within the past few decades there has been a new invention, that of the yoga “mat”, which is made of some sort of synthetic rubber or plastic material. This has lead to the idea that “yoga” is practiced “on” such a mat. Since the mat is designed to be used for physical postures or asanas, its invention has even further led to the distortion of yoga. Along with the invention of yoga “on the mat”, there has been a subsequent invention of yoga “off the mat” to describe the “other” form of yoga. Google presently reveals 82,300 results for a search of “yoga off the map”. While it is good that people are doing other such practices, the mere fact that “yoga off the mat” has come into vogue implies that the default position of real yoga is “on” some synthetic “mat”. This is just one more example of setting aside the ancient tradition of authentic yoga for the sake of promoting the modern distorted yoga through all of the yoga business channels.
The goal of Yoga is Yoga: The goal or destination of Yoga is Yoga itself, union itself, of the little self and the True Self, a process of awakening to the preexisting union that is called Yoga. While it is not the intent of this article to give a final or conclusive definition of the term Yoga–which can be described in different ways–it has to do with the realization through direct experience of the preexisting union between Atman and Brahman, Jivatman and Paramatman, and Shiva and Shakti, or the realization of Purusha standing alone as separate from Prakriti. The mere fact that one might do a few stretches with the physical body does not in itself mean that one is headed towards that high union referred to as Yoga.