Philosophy of yoga and the mass induction in the West
The philosophy of yoga is to withdraw the mind from external activities, to draw its focus inwards, and to bring it into deep concentration.
After all the activities and movements of the mind cease, the mind which has become predominantly sattvic in nature becomes steady. Until it develops this steadiness, we do not obtain any benefits from it. Until the mind is made to remain steady, all the time spent on this pursuit will be wasted and we will not receive any benefits from actions performed by a shaky mind. As a result, some might ask, if spending time on yoga might not initially produce any benefit then why should one practice it? This question seems justified, but it must be said that such questions are asked only by those who have not thought deeply about the subject. “No accomplishment or achievement is possible without effort” is a great saying. Normally, if a man in search of profits ventures into the relevant activity without following the proper guidelines and asks “What can be gained as a result of this? Who knows whether I will or will not gain anything” and is quite doubtful about achieving positive results, he will not achieve anything. But if he makes the effort to practice by following the correct path, he will not be deprived of the fruits of his practice. For example, let us take the fields of education and agriculture. Just as one reaps the benefits in these fields only after a period of time, so it is in the case of yogabhyasa practiced with krama (following the regular order). Only after practicing according to krama for a period of time will the yogabhyasi gain strength of body, good health and happiness, and the mind will mainly reside in sattvaguna.
One more example — consider the case of a mango tree. Let us assume that there are plenty of fruits in it. Let us also assume that the owners of the tree have given us permission to pluck and eat the fruits. Yet with all this, if we did not move from our present place, or even if we did move, supposing we didn’t go to the location of the mango tree, or supposing that we did go but did not make an effort to climb it, or supposing that we did climb the tree, but did not reach out to pluck the mango, or supposing that we did reach out, but that we did not bother to pluck the fruit, or even if we plucked the fruit, if we did not bother to taste its juice — without consuming the juice of the divine nectar, how can we know the taste of the fruit? This is never possible. The pleasure of tasting the fruit far exceeds that of climbing the tree or plucking the fruit. There is no need to emphasize this. Yet what can we say about one who, on reaching the tree, without even plucking the fruit, immediately laments that he has not tasted mangoes and refuses to go back to the tree? Without effort can anybody ever achieve anything? Similarly, even in the matter of yoga, unless it is practiced with complete faith, no benefit will be gained. In any endeavor, there should be a totally dedicated effort until the completion of the action in order to achieve the benefits of the action. Likewise, there is no doubt that until yogabhyasa is done with the same attitude, practiced every day at the same prescribed time and place, one will not obtain the expected benefits of the action.
All of this brings to question any validity to anything called yoga in the Western world. What practices are authentic and will have the desired effect. We now have paddle board yoga, Spin yoga, yoga rave, etc etc etc… Do any of these or the other styles have any results in alignment with the actual path of yoga? Results show. Anusara yoga’s inventor, John Friend, has shown the results of what yoga is in the West. Bikram Choudary is just another example as he has the most popular yoga in Amercia by far. The list goes on.
The ancient texts tell us of techniques, they give direction and details. There are commentaries written on these details yet the American public is in charge of what yoga is these days, not these texts.