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The Real Problems in Modern Ayurveda and Yoga Practice

What can end up happening is these types can further strengthen their ego since they have some awareness of how to manipulate their mind-body state. It is a powerful but a dangerous trap if we are not careful. This is often a false sense of control since no amount of disciplining your mind or senses will yield bliss or liberation unless you can learn how to properly release your need to control through devotion and simple awareness. It is important to be able to listen to where your energy needs to go in your body and not an idealized conception of what you can force your body or breathe to do. Once again people can become dependent on the practice to control their emotions and lives and can end up being more controlling over themselves and others as well, missing out on the deeper and real spiritual joys of life. When these types of practitioners turn into teachers it can often be as an idealized way to control others. This can often be quite obvious and I have seen at play numerous times, though there are many subtle forms of it as well depending on your constitution and the elements / qualities / mental make-up as mentioned before. What can also happen is that our intense practices can actually push the fires of pitta out of control. This can cause practitioners to become overzealous with the high minded spirit of much of the ancient texts – not realizing how essential having a real spiritual master is key to keeping your ego humbled throughout this entire process. This might also lead people to believe that yoga is a cure all and everybody should be doing or teaching yoga – which is not always the case. Yoga actually requires much dedicated discipline and is not necessarily a safe or ideal thing to do for all people as we have been discussing here. There are also many different forms of yoga that people solely practicing asana often seem to forget. If we only focus on posture or philosophy or devotion, we are bound to get imbalanced in some way. So to clarify, there is definitely a form of yoga that is appropriate for all, though it doesn’t have to involve bodily postures to such a great degree necessarily. Now despite Ayurveda starting to gain mass popularity, it does seem that these messages are still slow to take hold. Much like Yoga, Ayurveda has jumped the gun on training “practitioners” and the standards for authentic Ayurvedic training in the west are very introductory compared to India despite what numerous schools claim. If you are considering Ayurvedic education I would highly suggest doing much research before committing as there is a lot of weirdness going on with regards to all of these disciplines in the west. Even the ancient texts constantly warn against quack practitioners of Ayurveda for this very reason. It seems that in this push for materialistic quick fixes the most widely spread fad coming of age is that of mass detoxes, quick herbal remedies, and spa like treatments. However Ayurveda generally emphasizes gradual dietary changes, specific herbal protocols, and basic seasonal regimens as some of the baselines to good health. Cleansing at the juncture of seasons was normally relegated to panchakarma that would last a month or more. The transitions at seasons more commonly were used to gradually adjust to the new season’s regimen and not necessarily to detox the body. What we have now is a modified form of this, as many of us do have toxins, but how we should go about clearing them is very different for each person. Not everyone has a constitution that can handle cleansing nor should it be a first step for all – even if there are toxins in the body. Some people need to tonify first and others may need to very gradually cleanse themselves so as not to disturb their doshas. Furthermore, just jumping into a cleanse without proper adjustment to such a new regimen, especially if you have never done such a thing, can be quite dangerous and actually vitiate the doshas. Vata is especially disturbed by any of these sudden changes. The most alarming thing is that many of these detoxes are being lead over the internet en masse with often questionable procedures such as purgation that classically would have required clinical supervision. I am not here to demean all detoxes, as some competent people may be running some of them, but it pays to be careful about what you may find out there no matter how lauded the “expert” may be. Just because someone is Indian or trained with Indian people or even runs a school or clinic, is not a mark of spirituality or expertise. Think of all the allopath’s you may have gone to before getting proper health care. Quality varies greatly and money can ruin everything – including spiritual disciplines. The message? Be careful! All of these concerns run parallel to the issues with vata and asana that we have discussed. Once again we see there is an overemphasis on increased energy, overly extroverted behavior, and intense experience that will only further imbalance vata-pitta types who are naturally drawn to this type of behavior. These sciences have traditionally been studied under competent gurus throughout the ages for a very good reason – they are complicated and can be dangerous if practiced improperly. However we are so out of balance in our current era that we view almost any energetic shift as a positive one quite often. The safest and easiest way to get yourself in balance is to have a steady and stable routine that you do every day, with some exceptions of course, and adjust for the seasons. A daily 10-15 minute yoga practice or other daily routine will do much more for you than going to an hour and half class once or twice a week and then forgetting about it. Every single master teacher I know has emphasized this. Even with this seemingly simple advice there is a lot to consider, but we have to start somewhere. If you can get this down your true health and vibrancy will thank you in the long run. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, but that is kind of the point. Look at the pictures of realized yogis and saints. They are calm and peacful. Most hardly even smile, as they are done with the world on a certain level. Enlightenment is a most grounded affair.

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