Yoga classes in the UK and the US are mostly led by people (like me) who don’t have an understanding of the ancient Sanskrit language and have not spent an extended time in that culture.
Aspects of yoga are ancient; many aspects are not that ancient.
I see a lot of yoga out there that was born of the New Age: a paradigm glorifying crystals, love and light, rainbows, essential oils, rose petals, unicorns, and the capitalist lust for a ‘high vibe’ lifestyle.
And the one thing the New Age religion loves best of all is chakras: supposedly a system of seven wheels of light along the spine and above, vibrating to specific frequencies, colours of the rainbow, notes along a scale, and psychological aspects.
Whilst I agree that taking each of those seven spots as a focus for meditation and inner listening is profound, there is no consistent evidence from the deeper river of tradition around specific notes and colours.
And let’s face it, that “your sacral chakra is spinning the wrong way” is a horribly New Age thing to say, and often projection on the part of the person saying it.
It’s tricky to navigate: most of us are so disconnected from our own traditions, spiritual or otherwise, and are attracted to the light of traditions where the candles have not yet gone out.
But too much dabbling and over-sharing of the latest shiny thing is just cultural appropriation and colonialism: one culture raiding the spiritual treasure chests of another, and that’s problematic in so many ways.
So I’m cautious when talking of chakras.
Because there are two levels of truth I am interested in.
1 – Listening to people who are actually immersed in traditions of yoga and what they have to say.
2 – Listening to the wisdom within me; and each of us listening to the wisdom of our own body and spirit.
As a teacher, I won’t tell you “your third eye chakra is clouded” but I will encourage you to feel inside and learn more about your inner states, your inner wilderness, and your inner joy.
That experience is yours: and need not be an appropriation of someone else’s culture, experience or ideas.
So I’m OK with that.
But, let’s be honest: modern yoga is something that has evolved through a hot New Age mess of cultural appropriation and shallow understandings.
Yet, somehow, lotus flowers grow out of the murkiness and mud.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve created a space to honour these important, and sometimes tangly, questions around yoga.
Each session involves yoga practice followed by a lecture and discussion.
We’ll touch into Yoga Philosophy, Anatomy, Sequencing, and how everything comes down to energy.
There are rarely easy answers. But it’s good to sit with the questions.