The study of Jnana Yoga (Union by Knowledge) has a noble purpose. This purpose is the quest for truth, and sometimes, illusion blocks our view. We perceive one thing, but reality is much different.
History is full of Yogis with fantastic experience and insight, but the senses “play tricks” on many of us.
Ancient man spent centuries carefully observing nature and the universe, but how long did it take for an educated man to notice that the earth rotates and the Sun does not really rise?
Humankind is programmed to observe everything with a conditioned mind. We try to open our minds, but we cannot help it when our opinions are based on past experiences and teachings. We cannot throw our education “out the window,” when we observe anything.
However, making a statement, such as: The universe is in constant motion, the earth is not the center of the universe, everything is subject to constant change, and evolution can be proven by observing nature – would have resulted in my execution just a few centuries ago.
Consider this: When you enter a Yoga session, whether you are a Yoga teacher or the student, the lesson plan should be subject to change. Yoga is constantly changing, so there is no fixed set of rules.
For example: Neck rotations, with the head tilted back, have been a traditional practice in Hatha Yoga and martial arts, but the cervical spine is not a “ball and socket” joint.
We now know that neck rotations will cause too much friction and will cause premature wear in the cervical spine. We also know that doing this same movement, with the head tilted back, compounds a bad situation. Lastly, hyperextension of the neck, by tilting the head back too far, is dangerous.
If you look at the research from sports medicine and physical therapy, you will see that these conclusions are correct.
Please bear in mind that this is only one small aspect of Hatha Yoga. Yet, you will see Yoga students practice neck circles under the guidance of a trained Yoga teacher for decades to come.
Why? The answer is: “My Yoga teacher taught me neck circles, his Yoga teacher taught him neck circles, and this is the way it has been since the beginning.”
We must expel our preconceived notions and practice non-judgement, when we research Yoga. This also applies to life. How many of us have thought harshly of someone because of their initial appearance – only to discover this same person is true, kind, and of noble character?
It is a struggle to sort out the illusions in this life, but daily practice of Jnana Yoga will help you.
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.riyoga.com He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice,” and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html