T. Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of Modern Postural Yoga, made the following intriguing statements in his book Yoga Makaranda in 1935, “It is not true that those people [Westerners] are not practicing physical exercises in conformity with our yoga system…all of you should know for sure that they are practicing the same yoga discipline as us…every individual is eligible for yoga practice…women, men, youth, elders, very old people, the sick, the weak, boys and girls.” His reason for making these claims was that, “God has created an appropriate system of educational activity according to the geographical conditions of each country…that is to say, the structure of knowledge has been created in accordance with the particular characteristics of the land, water, and air.” I could not agree more on these points, but the question seems to arise, if this is true, then where is a truly distinct American form of yoga for the 21st century?
America is a cultural melting pot that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…but also the courage to be a trailblazer; it is a place of near constant change, struggle, and transitional periods. In short, the brief and tumultuous history of America reflects the current life trajectory of most modern people, that is, diverse and full of constant twists and turns. For those who seek to avoid all of that chaos and variety and would rather have the same one system applied in nearly the same way for everyone, there is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. For those who want individualized instruction, there are countless private lessons, or gurus, both reputable and otherwise, to provide a personalized path. However, where is the system that is overtly multicultural, multilingual, and multifarious in its methods, providing a classically conscious, yet future focused framework for all people, while allowing the details and specifics to be filled in differently by each practitioner? The time is ripe for such a comprehensive take on yoga and it stands to reason that America should be the soil from which it rises.
What follows in this post and Part Two of this post, is but one novel system of yoga uniquely suited for the rapidly changing, technological world of today with its numerous intellectual, emotional, and physical demands. This creative system is called Yoga Bhavadhara or simply, Yoga Dhara. This new form of yoga was designed to incorporate the best of the past, but without being stuck there or worse yet, misconstruing the past and still being stuck in this fictitious creation. What this means is that respect and homage is paid to earlier styles of yoga—through the inclusion of asana and pranayama for example—but there is no attempt whatsoever to usurp or make outlandish claims to some secret Indian origin rooted in deep antiquity. This seems to be a common issue within the modern history of yoga surrounding Krishnamacharya’s fabled Yoga Rahasya and also the Yoga Kurunta, which exercises a near religious exertion over some Ashtanga yogins.
Yoga Bhavadhara was created to address the physical and psychological issues that have resulted from living in an era defined by constant transitions along with greater isolation from the natural environment. Every person must deal with at least a few major life transitions, it is these pivotal events that can make or break us and more often, they break us! However, Yoga Dhara draws inspiration from the Tantric maxims, “the poison that kills becomes the elixir of life in the hands of the wise,” and “we rise by that which makes us fall.” For this reason, Yoga Dhara utilizes numerous transitional methods to reshape the body, soul, and mind into one flexible and constantly flourishing being. Please refer to Part Two of this post for more of the specifics of the practice of Yoga Bhavadhara.
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