Yoga is not meant as an exercise or group activity done in mass, or for body sculpting or to be competitive. In fact it is the opposite of competition. The word for competition in Sanskrit is ‘pratiyoga’, opposite of yoga.
It’s Indian origins proposed it as a method to quiet the mind and body to prepare one for meditation, to enhance ones spiritual progress and understanding of one’s higher self.
While it is true that it benefits a person taking even a limited take, eg. yogasana and can make a significant difference in quality of life, this process can only be achieved on an individual basis. Though, it may be done in a classroom setting, each person has to work their own practice, taking into consideration a persons specific body type, temperament, diet, position in life, age, environment, lifestyle etc.
Specific techniques are taught by a teacher who understands these things on a comprehensive level. It is done in alignment with one’s nature and to achieve a balance that promotes health and well being to open the person who practices to higher levels of consciousness.
It reaches far beyond a series of random asanas to a general audience and should be taken only under the direct guidance of one who understands what importance each step has in a person’s development.
Yogic techniques literally manipulate the pranic energy of its practitioner. It is dangerous to be practiced as an exercise, without understanding the impact it has on us. The purpose of yogic techniques is to increase our equipoise and establish us in equanimity. While some postures and techniques can help in that, provided they are modified to the individual, many can actually harm, without the individual even knowing so.
Unless a teacher knows which posture to choose for the student, modify it to that person, set the frequency / duration, the focus point and associated mantra, the student is playing with fire.
This has been Shukl’acharya’s unwavering message and what he has taught to those who seek the true meaning of yoga.