What is yoga according to the ancient scriptures? Yoga is merging with the higher energy which is love. You become as light as love, so that you can vanish into the divine: particles of the same attract. The ultimate goal of life. How can you do this? With Jnana, Karma, Bhakti and Raja Yoga.
With knowledge of the self (jnana) you will find some thoughts, words and actions you would like to change into something more positive. With the right actions you will clean negative characteristics so you become more loving (karma). Eventually you will realise all is love and you only want to serve love (bhakti) in a beautiful and honest yoga lifestyle (raja) that supports the higher goal of life (universal dharma). The texts give us an exact guide to live such a life dedicated to honesty and non-violence, with norms and values and certain codes of conduct in the 8 limbs of yoga. Yoga has 4 parts Jnana, Karma, Bhakti and Raja which includes the 8 limbs of yoga. This is the basics of Hatha Yoga: yoga in its purest form.
This is the real yoga how it is described in the ancient Vedas of thousands of years ago. It is not just asanas, it is a way to merge with the divine, the universal dharma or life goal of all people. It’s the reason why we exist. Nowadays with the internet you don’t have to travel to India to reach these Vedic texts in which yoga and meditation were first described: everybody can find them.
Though still, I have not met many yoga practitioners who really know what yoga is. Even many yoga teachers don’t know what yoga is. Yoga teachers whom I have taught, who payed big sums of money, thousands of euros for prominent children’s yoga teacher courses in Holland, don’t know the real meaning of yoga. This is the result of commercialising yoga and meditation: people pay high prices but quality is low.
Every student of yoga should study the old texts. This is their own responsibility. Doing (or ‘buying’) a short teacher course somewhere is so easy to do, you just pay a lot of money and within four weeks you can call yourself a yoga teacher. But then you still don’t know what real yoga is. You have to live it, in order to be able to understand it. And to teach it well, is a even a next step much further away, it takes many, many years.
After deeply studying yoga, you will finally discover that a real yoga teacher does never ask any money for his teachings. You might say ‘the lower the price the better the quality’ but that would be to rigorous to say, because still; quality of low priced (or free) yoga outside of India is not always of the best standards. You will also discover after thorough study that every person who says he is a ‘yogi’ he is definitely not a yogi (or yogini). All prominent Indian yogi’s from history agree on that. Yoga is love, yoga brings you to the realisation that you are love or Atma. Yoga guides you to love, bliss and true happiness (the same energy as The Divine). Yoga lets the whole world face towards love and helps us merging with Divine love. And for real love you cannot ask anything as cheep as paper money: this is an insult for yoga. When you choose your yoga classes you should always analyse if the price they ask is for commercial purposes or just a small amount to maintain the schooling.
Nowadays schools ask (shamelessly) 15 to 20 euros for a regular yoga class and it is full with 30 or 40 persons, 10 times a day. This way yoga is used to make money and this will never hold ground eventually: messing with the divine energy is not a good thing to do. It is good that more and more people practice yoga, very good, but remind yourself that yoga is a lifestyle, you do this the whole day not only on the mat in the yoga school. The classes with asanas or postures are just to support your way of living and to deepen your meditation (according to the scriptures of Raja Yoga). The real work you should do yourself: know yourself, improve yourself, become a beautiful loving person with a good character. That’s why I always advice to take just a few classes a month and then repeat those classes at home every day, early in the morning when energy is fresh: this is a much better way to practice than constantly going to a yoga school and pay a huge amount to the owners (teachers are mostly not receiving this money).
New ‘hip’ yoga schools in Amsterdam are very expensive, yoga will become mostly for elite this way. And nowadays they sometimes offer ‘yoga off the mat’… ‘Good!’ you might think… but not: ‘Come and drink a wine in our café or buy a nice yoga pants in our shop!’ It is a shame for yoga. Selling it. Drinking alcohol with it: Sattvic food or the yoga diet is 100% without alcohol, it is the worst thing you can do actually, it darkens the mind and energy with heavy tamasic food in such a way that you can definitely never merge with the divine: which is the actual goal of yoga.
If all yoga teachers and school owners would do their homework, if they would be humble, honest, consciously and live the 8 limbs of yoga themselves, this would all not have to happen. Yoga would become much more powerful again without capitalism and commerce: it will bring it back to its original purpose. Yoga is paying a high price right now and is inflicted with money, materialism and greed, but we yoga practitioners can keep this in our own hands by studying real yoga, live the Sattvic yoga lifestyle and go to schools which ask a normal price for a class: it should be below 10 euro’s in Western Europe. Or like we teach our courses; on the basis of free donations like in buddhism. If you cannot pay, you don’t have to: I teach from the love of my heart and thus I don’t have to receive anything in return for it. Yoga should be accessible for everybody, regardless economic background. Yoga should be mainly focused on love.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” The Bhagavad Gita