Yoga: Then and Now
A lighter look at this ancient inward gazing practice
Millions of people all over the world practice "yoga" every day. They practice different styles of yoga - some akin to a gentle stretch and others, like the Ashtanga method, that are so intense that it is a sweaty workout. People practice yoga for various reasons - to maintain general health, to have toned bodies, to calm the mind, to relax tense muscles and for spiritual reasons. Whatever reason people practice it for, it is good to take a lighter look at the practice and understand the original intent of the practice so that we are not beleaguered when our bodies don't cooperate to meet the various contortions that these poses demand.
1) The images that the terms Yogi and Yogini would conjure in one's mind
Images of people with subtle powers over their body, gained through deep meditation
Images of people contorting their bodies into difficult positions
2) Wishing to grow old and wishing to feel young
The poor kids wished they were older so that they can escape the torment of their teachers (as one is seen standing on the chest of a boy in Kapotasana)
People pay money to be tormented so they can feel young
The kids showed up for practice so that they can eat the one square meal of the day that was offered at the Mysore palace after practice
People show up for practice so that they can enjoy that extra course fancy meal without gaining weight
When B.K.S. Iyengar was asked what diet he followed during his days of intense yoga practice, he famously said that he had no diet at all when he was living off of tap water and tea for days together due to extreme poverty. A smaller diet, whether coincidental or not, made better Yogis (See this article: An empty stomach has one problem; A full stomach has a 100 problems)
4) Yoga and Yogas
There was only Yoga.
There are various kinds of yoga practices with fanciful names and whatmore, people try to copyright sequence of poses that were handed to them from thousands of years ago