Choose Your Yoga Cautiously

By Rudra Shivananda


Rudra Shivananda

Most spiritual seekers are not aware that there can be significant differences between powerful yogic systems that can affect their ability to function in society. The yogic systems that were developed and flourished during the last two thousand years were influenced by the advent of the dark age and required total dedication from their practitioners. Such systems are meant for a reclusive life-style. The successful practitioners were monks and celibates who dwelled in caves or monasteries, away from society.

There were very few systems that were developed for the house-holder. You might think that this historical background is not relevant to the spiritual seeker today, since yoga has been promulgated to the West and disseminated to a larger segment of the population than ever before. However, unfortunately, much of the yogic systems still have their roots in medieval India and have been mostly taught by monks or disciples of monks. There is nothing wrong with monks and I’m not trying to belittle their achievements in transmitting the yogic teachings through the dark ages – it is through their dedication that we still have the true yogic teachings. My only concern is that the techniques and systems are not meant for householders.

The powerful yogic techniques in some of these systems speed up our spiritual evolution through the rapid unfolding of our karma which can cause great physical, emotional and
mental stress. The changes caused by the techniques are so dis-orienting that it is necessary to be under the supervision of a competent guide. The stress on the practitioner is such that he or she will not be able to carry on a career or even a relationship, not to mention taking care of a family. Unfortunately, there are no cautionary voices or even when there are, they are drowned out by the ubiquitous availability of all types of techniques and practices in books and on the internet. One should never practice any technique without understanding its possible effects. Consider that before we take any prescription drug, we need to know about its possible side-effects, but apparently not for life-altering yogic techniques.

Find out about the roots of the yogic system, not just the current head or teacher. Research whether it was required to be a celibate or a monk in the past. Even if updated for this generation, find out if a Master was involved in the changes. Only a Master can make the changes necessary to keep a system effective and yet customize it for a new generation. Seek out other householder students or teachers of the system and get their experience.

Many spiritual students are bewildered when they practice diligently and find their lives falling apart. This is not because they are doing anything wrong. It is because they have chosen the yogic system that may not be meant for a householder practitioner.

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