“Hot Yoga isn’t real yoga” someone said to me in passing the other day.
Humm…I thought. Here’s a question, what is real yoga? Even the ancients don’t agree on what yoga is. They speak of the yoga of Bhakti, of Jnana, of Raja, of Karma of Mantra or Yantra. They even speak of Hatha. They say these different paths to lead to yoga. Ok, this might leave room for Hot Yoga to be real yoga.
The Sanskrit translation of Yoga means to yoke, as in to yoke oxen to a cart. We think of yoking the mind with the body and breathe then these ultimately with the spirit. When I practice Hot Yoga I definitely feel a yoking or union of the mind and body, breath and heart. In fact the union becomes so strong I forget about the effort, the heat and the passing of time itself. Sounds like Hot Yoga could be real yoga.
If we look at a possible meaning given by Patanjali, a mystic or scribe who might have lived sometime between 400 BC – 400 AD, who said that ‘yoga was the cessation of the chatter of the mind’ (or how it is often translated from Sanskrit). Humm…peace of mind… let’s see, Hot Yoga gives me peace of mind. It reduces all my self-importance. My to-do list and my plans dissolve into quietness. Maybe this qualifies Hot Yoga as real yoga.
Some think that Hot Yoga is just physical exercise class and not real yoga. Well, I guess on some level it could be. However if “the body is the temple of the soul” and we are trying to yoke the body to the mind and spirit (soul) why not strengthen and develop the container we all live in. Why can’t this be real yoga.
I guess what real yoga is must be determined by the intention of the participant. So, for me it’s real, how about you?