What is the Difference Between Traditional and Modern Yoga and Which One Is Best for You?

By Bipin Baloni

Posted 2 years agoHEALTH

Yoga is an ancient practice. It pans back to a time that was about 25000 years. Talking about primitive knowledge, when the human civilization was not as civilized as today, the Indian sages and saints were surely onto something that was ‘pure knowledge’ minus the cause of spreading awareness and gaining a fandom. Now a day even a packet of chips has an aggressive fandom.
What is the Difference Between Traditional and Modern Yoga and Which One Is Best for You?

So, when we are talking about a pure un-affected source of knowledge, we can be damn sure that they took all the time that they could with putting this knowledge together. Making no mistakes and analyzing with a lot of contemplation and unadulterated spiritual energy.

Yoga was devised, when the ancient yogis, came into a realization of greater energy and a greater existence that was within the reach of everyone (every human being). This greater form of existence was beyond things like behavior, a personality, an understanding capability and all forms of attachment. The attachment was not as materialistic as it is in today’s date. But emotions were a big thing, ego, reputation, anger, joy and other such mind entrapping emotions were a big thing. 

The ancient yogis devised a way to surpass all these man-controlled emotions and moments to work towards the alignment of their body and mind. They devised a method of body movements with mind control to keep in their own control, the power of their body and their mind. Not curbing this power, but practicing and polishing this immense power in a way that it became one with their being. This power was no more a thing that needed an external force to keep tamed. They were the embodiment of their own power. 

To understand that the power of the mind and the power of the body have two different capacities and consequences; and to then create a way to align these powers and capacities; lead them to a realm of existence that was an enlightened realm of existence. This was the spiritual realm. 

In this realm there was no definition, no beginning, no end, and no limitations. This was the realm of the limitless flow of energy. This was the realm that was higher than the realm of an average human existence. 

This pristine knowledge was in its most unadulterated state in those times, in the times of yore. Talking about today’s scenario, where the entire understanding and aim of yoga has been tweaked to an unrecognizable state, one can only conclude that change is inevitable. 

This does not make me say that the contemporary face of yoga is the best face for you. Because the origination of this practice was knowledge so deep, people spent hundreds of years to correct and collect it. 

We as average intellect humans cannot spend that amount of time to dedicate ourselves to this holistic practice for the betterment of humankind. Especially with the pace at which we are heading towards the future, devotion to just one subject is almost impossible.

However as the debate of the traditional v/s modern yoga goes, there have been many important viewpoints made along the years. In an issue of a Swedish yoga magazine by the name BINDU, Swami Janakananada writes in his article, how for the sake of selling at a larger scale, gymnastics is called yoga. He believes that students have an unnecessary habit of modifying age-old teachings until it becomes an abomination or a mutation of some sort. He goes on to lead the conclusion to something that talks about how weeding this abomination becomes necessary at some point. The title of this debatable article was “Call it something else! The yogis are turning over in their graves.”

However there are people who debate that there are no yogis of that capacity and knowledge of the ones who created this practice any longer; that there are normal working class people merely working hard to maintain their health and happiness and work towards a balance in their lives. That these people who make the majority of yoga enthusiasts, want nothing more than a positive change in their lives, which of course is an automatic result of inducing yoga into one’s lifestyle. 

But how does one justify the concept of things like Beer-yoga? Where you get to become tipsy, while originally wanting to work on your health? It’s a fad. 

The world has seen a lot more kinds of these fads from wine-yoga to biriyani-yoga. 

The entire pillar of discipline and mind-control is reduced to nothingness with the amount of people attending these attractive classes. And it’s the 21st century who can stop anyone from doing anything at all right? 

But what they don’t realize is that the knowledge that people literally died for, to gather, a knowledge that can really work for the betterment of the entire mankind is being shunned in the noise of the fast-paced century. 

This is where I believe that traditional yoga and its preservation are so very essential and important

The travel of yoga from the east to the west invited all these fancy alterations. Swami Vivekananda has a huge role in this. It was swami Vivekananda who introduced yoga to the audience overseas.

Swami Vivekananda was an Indian scholar who travelled to the US to collect funds to work on India’s growing poverty issue, back in the 1800s. He addressed a lot of the American audience which started bringing him fame. He addressed the world parliament of religions. One such address that brought him instant fame was delivered at the first global interfaith dialogue held in Chicago in the year 1893. Slowly and surely as he travelled all throughout the US, he spread the word of yoga to all his listeners. 

He is known to spread the words of the great Indian Sage Patanjali. Sage Patanjali believed that the main aim of yoga was “isolation from existence and to reach a state of freedom from a mortal human life”. Patanjali believed that the root of all suffering was the attachment that humans had to all things that materialistically bound them; and to end this suffering, one must renounce all the materialistic things that created the illusion of affluence and the definition of a “worthy living”.

A counter motive to Vivekananda introducing yoga to the world was that he wanted the western world to dwell on some ancient eastern knowledge as the westerners had induced a lot of their own philosophies and religion wherever they went. Little did he know that his strategy of giving out knowledge would lead us to “Beer Yoga”?

Well as the world came to know about this ancient knowledge gradually, it really interested them. But more interesting to them was the outwardly benefits that yoga brought to them, and the aim of yoga started to get diluted in the pace of the 21st century. 

Thankfully, all this ancient wisdom was turned into sacred scriptures that are still only 70% of the raw knowledge. But it still leads the way when it comes to inspiration for an authentic yogic journey (for the yoga enthusiasts that understand the importance of authentication).

This sacred scripture is called the “Rig Veda” which is one of the four important Vedas (sacred Indian Scriptures). The 3 other Vedas were the Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and the Atharva Veda.

So what are the core philosophies behind the traditional/classical form of yoga as we know it?

Patanjali, the Great Indian sage composed the Yoga sutra, around 100BC and 500BC. In the Yoga Sutra, he discussed the Samkhya Philosophy; this is probably the most ancient Darsana (one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu Philosophies). What Samkhya means, is to split matter (or PRAKRTI) from spirit (or PURUSHA) in a similar fashion, the resonance of yoga comes by the detachment from the materialistic. Although yoga is a theistic idea and Samkhya is atheistic in nature, the idea of deliverance in both these ideas comes from detachment. 

Now one may not be capable of renouncing all that they have worked hard to possess, and attachments are natural in this scenario. And how can we learn to incorporate more and more of this acquired wisdom in your yogic practices. 

As it seems to me that change in fact, is inevitable; and an average person may find them, incapable of upholding the sources of the traditional ideal of yoga. But what they are capable of, as they adhere to a yogic journey in life, is that they can incorporate more of the core philosophies that make yoga, authentic; because as I understand this, authentication and maintaining authentication is a way to preserve the original and core values of anything that has a positive impact on mankind. 

The more important thing is that, today’s world is filled with malice, threats, greed, and all this that are decaying the mankind and its understanding. When the yogis created yoga, it led them to a state where they were capable of summoning the love and intellect within themselves. And I believe that that should be the goal to the journey of yoga. Today’s world could really do with this kind of a power. And this would probably work for the betterment of mankind, when they can refine their entire being. 

So does that mean we spend decades and centuries preserving what was lost? If possible yes please. But honestly it seems impossible. So why not stick to preserving what we can about yoga and disciplining ourselves, to become the change that the world needs? 

The conclusion that I derive in terms of yoga that is good for you is this (and with the reason). People practice yoga for different aims and achievements. Where contemporary yoga helps people fast-forward to their physical goals; traditional / classical yoga is the foundation to what we may understand as a holistic approach to wellness and a union of the body, the mind and the spirit

Traditional yoga helps you in a more incorporative sense than all that modern yoga would teach you. Traditional yoga truly helps you improve on your spiritual well being and it also helps you with connecting to your inner-self, the one which exists in a realm apart. If you are too bored of materialistic existence and its severe attachment issues, traditional yoga is the best form of practice for yourself.

Author Bio :

About the author Bipin Baloni

Bipin Baloni is a yoga teacher from India and his core specialization is in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. He organizes 200,300 and 500-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. He also conducts Yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.

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