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Old 10-06-2009, 05:41 PM   #1
neti-x-neti
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Asana vs Yoga

Well...I am new here. But not really. I was pretty active here about two years ago. Then I left.

Now I am back. Ta da.

Anyway...I will introduce myself but first a burning question..that I suspect will create some interesting discussion.

Do people think there is a big difference between an asana teacher and a yoga teacher?

I do.

I think there are many of the former and very very few of the later. And I wish this was not the case.

The other thing I have been exploring...well...it is looking at the pedagogy of teaching yoga.

Pedagogy is a fancy word for teaching and there is a ton of theory about it. A lot has been written about oppressive pedagogy in which a wise teacher simply tells the empty students and the students just listen. This has been criticized as a very unempowering way of teaching.

I agree and I want to figure out new ways of teaching yoga that are radically dynamic...more like a jazz improv session then a guru teaching.

well...interested in folks feedback.

neti-x-neti
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:00 AM   #2
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Good morning!
I think these are great questions, and I am eager to hear what folks have to say. I'll start in on the second one.
Coming from an improv artist's perspective, I agree that there's a lot of joy and discovery to be had in following that model. It is, however, dependent on a moderate to high skill level among the participants. "Empty students" who actually started that way have a ways to go before they can safely or meaningfully contribute to something very dynamic. Simultaneously I doubt anything we're content to call 'oppressive' is going to fill up an empty student.
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:33 AM   #3
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I am glad you mentioned art improv because that was definitely on my mind when I wrote the questions.

I wrote a reply and deleted it..so I will try again.

I think you are right that issues such as the different levels of students in a class could be a problem. Class size is certainly a big issue in the yoga field.

In a dynamic type of class with a lot of give and take then there is certainly going to be a type of expectation on students and many may find that hard or impossible.

But I don´t think those are the core problems as I see it. There are objective, external issues that can be a problem. But those can be handled if the teacher really wants a dynamic class.

My concern is that too many teachers do not. And that there is a tradition of spiritual pedagogy that is very top down, male, authoritarian.

The art field has certainly given these issues way more focus then the yoga world.

I am really pretty excited to be dicussing these issues because they have been on my mind for a long time and I really do wonder what other peoples thoughts are as well.

peace,
Jesse
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:04 AM   #4
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Yes I do think there is a significant difference between being an asana teacher and being a Yoga teacher.
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:34 PM   #5
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As far as I understand, asanas (or postures) are a part of yoga practice. I don't see why they should be treated as different things, or taught separately.
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:02 PM   #6
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Asanas are part of a yogic practice. Absolutely.
But, from my experiences in the USA, they are the only part that often gets taught.

I have never been in a class where the Namas or Niyamas were discussed and they are the first two limbs of the yogic tree.

I believe a Yoga teacher would be a student of all phases of yoga. An asana teacher would simply be a person who has studied the poses and can teach them.

I know that, personally, I would feel much better if teachers were more up front about what they can teach and what they have studied and what they have no real knowledge or interest in.

And it is not yoga to simply say, at the start of a class, "Lets focus on compassion today. Remember to love yourself".

Those are rather empty phrases if there is not a very deep grasp of what love and compassion really mean and how they apply to ones yogic practice.
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Old 10-09-2009, 01:37 AM   #7
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i don't understand what is difference between yoga and asana teacher? both can be tout easily by one.
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Old 10-09-2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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I also want to know the difference between yoga and asana teacher.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:48 AM   #9
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A Yoga Teacher not only teaches asanas, but also pranayama (breathing techniques) , how to do mudras (hand postures), bandhas (a kind of energy locks), mantras (prayer) and relaxation...

Yoga are not just asanas, it involves many things...
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:53 AM   #10
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Yoga is an ancient wisdom embracing eight distinct disciplines, of which asana is one. Add to that, there are teachers of asana (many of them in athletic gyms in the US) who are content with providing 'buns of steel' to their customers -- focusing only on the physical -- and the gap between what is taught on a mat and how a yogi lives all of life can widen.
This is not a necessary gap -- as arnold says, both can be taught by one person and I hope they are, frequently.

Now, here's a different take on the question: when you pay someone to talk you into triangle pose and they don't say anything about breathing or intention or self study, are they teaching yoga? Are they even teaching asana?
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Old 10-10-2009, 02:59 PM   #11
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This is an excellent question.

Posting on the run as usual but........

I think the way that you teach yoga depends on who you are teaching.

Western students usually come with expectations and preconceived ideas about yoga practice and it is, in my humble opinion, the true skill of the (western) yoga teacher to find each students key, and subtly turn it so that they can open up to what yoga really is.

This may involve starting with just teaching asana but it is the way that you teach this that makes the difference between just teaching asana and teaching yoga.
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Old 10-10-2009, 03:22 PM   #12
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Now we see there are really two segments to the question itself (as constructed). One is "what should a teacher give to the students?". Which is a question that has a robust answer when the teacher has more than one thing (postures) within them to choose from. Presuming a level of integrity, (which in some cases is quite a presumption) a teacher only trained in postures can only teach postures.

I have many things to give and as pointed out above me, a crafty, skilled, thoughtful, teacher gets to select the "how and what" to share based on the unique nature of the student and their place on the path.

The second question is "for a teacher who can only teach postures, is that teaching to be defined as the teaching of Yoga?". This too has been answered here.
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Old 10-11-2009, 06:41 AM   #13
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Namaskar,

Yoga is a wholistic approach to life that includes meditation, pranayama, sattvika (sentient) diet, fasting, moral conduct, knowledge, devotion, and so much more, including yoga postures or asanas.

If someone only knows asanas then their approach will be incomplete, as will their teaching style.

That said, many use asana as an initial platform to move into a greater and deeper understanding of yoga. We are all growing and so long as one sees asanas as but a part of the whole, then one will be on the right track towards expansion.

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Old 10-12-2009, 04:06 PM   #14
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I completely agree with you on this: "I believe a Yoga teacher would be a student of all phases of yoga. An asana teacher would simply be a person who has studied the poses and can teach them" neti-x-neti.

I haven't been in a yoga class that starts with: "Lets focus on compassion today. Remember to love yourself". In this sense, I have to agree with you on your last sentence.

I am sure by now you have found the answer to your initial question.
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:38 PM   #15
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Yoga cannot be aquired, yet it can be recieved.

Between an accomplished yogi and the average man of today (I hate to use the term, as everyone posess the greatest opportunities, and is indeed Christ/Atman/Self/Consciousness), the difference is like that between an adult and a child. In today's egositic, individualist world, where criticism and short sighted egalitarianism is so common, it is hard to accept that indeed some might be much more wise and knowledgable than us. To asess a teacher, it already requires certain soul qualities, like openness, tolerance, and the ability to admire and respect. Without the latter, only dry intellectual knowledge is possible, and that is strictly linked to the sensorial world and thoughts about it. It is no wonder that it exist a superficial view of yoga. Why would the yoga phenomenon be free of the everpresent and all encompassing materialism of our scientific culture ?

Yet, for those who desire to dig deeper, it must be said: yoga is not about asana, not remotely (depends on what we call asana). It is just as gross a mistake like saying that the human being is only a physical organism, with it's complex bio-chemical interactions. From this comparison you might draw the following conclusion: the more true for someone it seems this materialist representation of the human being, the more far is one of having a clue about what yoga really is.
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Last edited by Hubert; 10-13-2009 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:18 PM   #16
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Ok. Because I use to meditate a lot on what I post here ... I often exceed the 30 minutes time limit allowing to edit my post. So, I will just post again, the newer version.

See, how it developed, form the first to the second. Count how many devils are in each of them.

Here it comes again:

Yoga cannot be aquired, yet it can be recieved.

Between an accomplished yogi and the average man of today (I hate to use the term, as everyone posess the greatest opportunities, and is indeed Christ/Atman/Self/Consciousness), the difference is like that between an adult and a child. In today's egositic, individualist world, where criticism and short sighted egalitarianism is so common, it is hard to accept that indeed some might be much more wise and knowledgable than us. To asess a teacher, it already requires certain soul qualities, like openness, tolerance, and the ability to admire and respect. Without the latter, only dry intellectual knowledge is possible, and that is strictly linked to the sensorial world and thoughts about it. It is no wonder that it exist a superficial view of yoga. Why would the yoga phenomenon be free of the everpresent and all encompassing materialism of our scientific culture ?

Yet, for those who desire to dig deeper, it must be said: yoga is not about asana, not remotely (depends on what we call asana). It is just as gross a mistake like saying that the human being is only a physical organism, with it's complex bio-chemical interactions. From this comparison you might draw the following conclusion: the more true for someone it seems this materialist representation of the human being, the more far is one of having a clue about what yoga really is. Yoga is initiation to have personal and first hand knowledge of the basic questions regarding human condition. Not learning a philosophy or accepting some dogma. It is worthless to talk about the Self. Knowing it, realizing it, that is where yoga takes one.

Yes, knowledge of former lives, mastering space, time, mind, and soul; becoming a seer (clairvoyant), becoming a siddha, transcending siddhis, all belong to the path of yoga. But one needs not seek a master by these. The better the master, the more he/she will not make a case of them. Follow yama and niyama, and seek those who seem better at it than you are. This way you cannot go wrong. Seek people who seem to live up to the commandments, or the eight fold path of Lord Buddha, or to the teaching of Jesus. Seeking these will lead you to real teachers, not those who just parrot things their brains have learnt, but those who will be able to take you one step further.

PS. Women are better at teaching popular yoga, as they are more cosmic by nature. But we need not mistake what is an innate, mostly unconscious ability to real knowledge or initiation. I say this with all my love for the Eternal Femninine, and Her many instances present here.
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Last edited by Hubert; 10-13-2009 at 03:24 PM.
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