Our modern adaptation of the practice strings hundreds of stretches together and tosses them around under the title of “yoga”. It is easy for the teacher’s ego to take centre stage and have a dance with itself on the mat. In terms of choreography, this works well— where aesthetic appeal and external appreciation are the point. But in yoga, when we create sequences that tone the tush and trim the thighs, tighten our core and flatter the mirror, we risk further enslaving ourselves to the body. As a teacher, it’s important that I remember this potential and be mindful of its encroachment on the borders of my teaching.
Some instructors emphasize giving students "what they want," which may be a social gathering that offers a nice entry point into mojitos and pizza. This emphasis is backwards. Yoga doesn’t care if you practice or not, and an authentic teacher won’t seek popularity among the masses. Sure this may come, but it’s not the focus.
I feel responsible in upholding the traditions of the practice, to do my best to teach with integrity and authenticity, so that those who are seeking the greater depths of yoga may find what they are looking for. Yoga does not acquiesce to the desires of every person who walks through the door. It is a door that swings open to all who are seeking liberation from suffering, spiritual emancipation, and freedom from the mundane trials and tribulations of daily life. It is THAT powerful. Watering down the approach to appeal to the masses does a disservice to the tradition, as well as to curious seekers.
Emancipation and enlightenment may or may not be found in recreational sports or dance; I don’t know. But I do know it can be found in the practical application of yoga.