Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cosmetic Yoga

This is an advertisement we saw in Bangkok prior to arriving in India. I've been thinking about its implications a lot lately and just what exactly is this "yoga" that we're doing.

Is it just a trendy fad that can be distilled down to a catch phrase like "Natural Bliss," and another means of selling anything from books and clothing to make-up, cars, and computers.

What do cosmetics have to do with yoga anyway? Or more pointedly, what does society's idea of "being beautiful" have to do with real yoga?

It seems to me that this picture actually highlights something quite profound about how yoga is being approached today. It seems that more and more people are merely practicing yoga for its "cosmetic value" and nothing more. To us, Yoga is not about getting a more beautiful body, tighter abs, or a sexier ass. It is not about creating some image of external beauty, or trying to "fit-in" with the latest trend. It is about seeing and experiencing your inner beauty, the reality within. It is a pertinent issue to ponder, in light of a recent article on “yoga masters” that came out in Vanity Fair Magazine. Are we really practicing and living the teachings of yoga in our daily lives, or are we just buying into another superficial image that is trying to sell us something else we don't really need?

Yoga means to 'yoke' or 'create union'. It can be described as both the process and the goal of becoming completely whole. It is a method for connecting all aspects of oneself and integrating them into a unified being. It is also the act of reaching out and creating union with other people, with the environment, and with the Oneness of all things.
The process of yoga starts to strengthen qualities of truth, sincerity, and integrity within the practitioner.
It is about getting Honest with yourself and living in Reality. It leads to a complete acceptance of oneself and others. Yoga is not about putting on more layers to cover-up who we really are. It is about peeling off all the layers that cover our True Self. It leads to the realization of how completely perfect and beautiful we all are - just as we are - AS IS.