In Chapters 7 & 8 Christina begins with a question that I have been asking myself and that is how should yoga be practiced? I have several friends who teach yoga classes at the SLC and have no interest in anything other than the physical aspect of yoga. I also have friends that are reluctant to try yoga because they believe it represents evil eastern philosophical thought. I’ve had trouble addressing both these groups of people. I believe that yoga can be a great workout but I also believe it is about balance and was never meant as a strictly physical practice. Yoga practice is a lifestyle more so than a workout. I can’t imagine simply going through the poses without any sort of focus other than achieving some unrealistic outward appearance. As far as physical practice is concerned yoga isn’t the best for getting in shape. An article from the NYT about a month ago showed evidence that yoga practice decreases the metabolism in the long term thus achieving an overall lower caloric burn than other more traditional forms of exercise. At the same time though who am I to call people out on their motivations for doing something? I couldn’t personally practice yoga without a philosophical backing but if others can more power to them.
From there Christina begins discussing the importance of having some sort of spiritual leader in your life to accompany your yoga practice. This seems like it may be a difficult task seeing as yoga gurus are not too common here in Waco, Texas. I feel like I have people in my life that I wouldn’t necessarily call my spiritual leader but who help me through spiritual issues nonetheless. Would these individuals suffice? I think they do. They serve their purpose in guiding me along the path towards God. An individual spiritual leader coupled with the encouragement and companionship found in community can help any individual move forward on his journey towards God. Community in many religions and society is the backbone of life. In our society the focus is so much on individuality that we lose the importance of community. We instead try to go through life alone believing that we can do everything for ourselves and I believe we can but we shouldn’t. Think of how much time, effort, and energy is saved when you allow someone to help you. Also think of how great of an effect some couraging words from a friend can be. Yoga as Patanjali describes in the sutras is to be practiced together in community. View yoga as a lifestyle and then it to should be practiced in community. Christina describes her community as a way for to reinforce her commitment to the study of yoga as well as a way to disengage from the sleeping world and move towards her true self.
As a whole this book was interesting and contained a great deal of information that resonated with me. At times I felt as if Christina focused a little too much on body image. I understand where she’s coming from and know that I’m probably not the intended audience for this book but it still was a little much. Her insights on yoga and yoga practice however challenged me and caused me to ask better questions.