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Yoga is not important

29 April 2018 | By Simon Krohn

It all started with philosophy. Yoga was developed as a practical way to break free from certain patterns and to reduce suffering. But yoga in itself is not important. What is important is the effect it might have on you. Dare to try something new! Challenge yourself with my new Yoga Philosophy Course online.


How can yoga have transformational effects?

I turn everything I do into a project. This is one of the negative patterns in my life. When I do something, I have a hard time taking it lightly. I become ambitious and I want to become good at what I do. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, looking closely at this pattern I feel an underlying sense of unease. It is so familiar and subtle that I easily forget that it is there, but it is both powerful and poisonous. It whispers in my ear that I am not naturally OK, and gives me the uncomfortable feeling that I need to be successful to be good enough. If I just follow my usual impulses, then I will seek relief through ambitious behaviour, and sadly this strategy never gives me the relief that I am longing for.

Yoga is'nt something to be good at
The reason why I share my personal pattern is that it serves as a good entry towards an essential philosophical point regarding yoga. Think about the sentence: “Laura is good at yoga.” Most of us would not raise an eyebrow if we heard the sentence in a conversation, and we would immediately understand, what is meant. Laura is experienced in yoga, and she is probably both flexible, strong and able to do advanced yoga poses. Or she is good at meditating for long periods or breathing in intricate ways. However, from a traditional yoga point of view it does not matter so much, what you think it means to be good at yoga. The problem is the very notion that yoga is something to be good at. The point can be expressed very simply: Yoga is not important in itself. It is only important because of the effect it has on you. On the surface, this may sound trivial, but if you look closer it is both significant and important.

Originally, yoga was not developed as a training system. It started with philosophy. Yoga began with an acknowledgement that there are certain patterns that most of us seem to be trapped in, and that these patterns bring suffering to our lives. Yoga was developed as a practical way to break free from those patterns and to reduce suffering. From a traditional perspective, yoga can therefore be compared to a medical treatment. You take a painkiller to reduce your headache, and to say that someone is good at taking painkillers, would be weird. The same is the case with yoga, if you look at it this way.

Yoga is about you
Yoga is a way to deal with the patterns that create suffering in your life. This is what yoga was developed for, and this is still in the DNA of yoga. However, to tap into this transformational potential of your practice, you need to keep your eyes on the ball. It is true that yoga can give you a better life, but it is equally true that your patterns are likely to sneak into your yoga practice, if you are not aware of it, and then your practice will not have a deeper effect. If you are a control freak, then you become a “yoga control freak”, and if you are a neurotic “achiever” (like me), then you can easily become a neurotic ”yoga achiever”. In fact, yoga can easily become yet another arena, where you act out your negative patterns.

I am not saying that it is wrong to set goals or achieve in yoga, and I am not saying that making yoga into a project is bad yoga. Honestly, I think it can be great fun to do so. All I am saying is that if you wish for yoga to touch you deeply, then you need to know, what you are dealing with, so you can distinguish, when your practice serves you well, and when it becomes harmful towards yourself. In other words, I am advocating a shift of perspective. Yoga is about you. Yoga is about life.

Let the practice suit the person
In my own practice, I daily observe ambitious impulses to get into better shape and push my practice to the next level. However, when I have the presence to observe these impulses clearly, I see how they arise out of my feeling that I am not good enough. When I follow these impulses, I feel a sense of numbness and disconnection. Because then my focus is on external ideals and because I naturally try to ignore, when my body’s signals tell me that I am overworked and tired and that I need rest rather than results. Your patterns are likely to be different from mine, but I imagine that most people practicing yoga can recognize the potential of letting the practice suit the person, rather than trying to be good at yoga.

Online Yoga Philosophy Course

Are you curious of learning more about yoga philosophy? If you are serious about letting yoga have a profound, positive effect in your life, you need to look honestly at your life and your patterns. Challenge yourself to actually try something new. In my new online Yoga Philosophy course I guide you through philosophy lectures and yoga classes. Read more about the course here!

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