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March toward true Yoginis: on Women’s day


Vedic times gave us women Yogis such as the great Gargi who was the composer of many of the Rig Vedic hymns and debates the nature of the soul with sage Yagnavalakya (this is the Yoga Yagnavalkya:an important manual for yoga seekers); Maitreyi, wife of Yagnavalakya, too has her say in Vedic knowledge as part of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. More recent times have given us yoginis as Meerabai of the Bhakti cult, Sharada Ma of the Ramakrishna order, Sister Nivedita of the Belur Math, and Ma Anandmayi of the blissful gaze. There are temples across India dedicated to the 64 yoginis. All of the rivers of India are worshipped as living deities, who sustain and enable life: thus, are considered female. The mighty Ganga has been recently recognised as an entity in herself by the government.

In today's times, Yoga, as a popular form of exercise has a bigger female following than male. It has been manipulated into a fitness fad and it is about bikini bodies, anatomy and at the best, physio therapy, all moving towards external gratification than the inward movement that the philosophy of yoga elucidates. Women, in modern times especially, have been subject to much pressure to conform to a standard of physical beauty that is projected by popular media through pictures and subtle messages. A large number of the sisterhood are constantly on some kind of diet, some kind of skin regimen, some kind of clothing fad, and many more gimmicks are resorted to so as to create acceptability in conformity.

The social media posts and pictures are replete with what the yoga industry expects to dunce us into: as either some kind of designer yoga gear to enable you into that near impossible twisted (im)pose, or the lure to escape and discover solutions that can exist only in the Himalayas or in places elsewhere than your present circumstances, and yes, inevitably, that very debatable detox to quickly lose a few more inches than healthily recommended. Yoga teacher training factories are offering more body, muscle and alignment focus than the truth of yoga.

The "Me too" campaign has had a huge share of gutsy female students/teachers stepping up to express their experiences in the murky world of yoga as it has become today. Those seekers seeking outside for answers from self styled yoga gurus are preyed upon in their vulnerable moments and end up worse from the effort of coming to terms with or fighting the wrong inflicted.

Yoga in its truest sense is actually a salvage system that allows us to explore our self within to reflect the beauty of the soul from the inside to the outside; coming to embrace and accept our imperfections as they exist with no judgments. Woman is the backbone of society and it is woman that creates the social environment for future generations. With the current scenario where women are being bombarded by the media to be spineless in the conformist consumerism cycle, and shackled in the dream of the body beautiful imposed by warped definitions of health and fitness, I fear for the future of not only yoga, but especially for what kind of message we will pass onto our daughters. Recently, I had a chat with a true yoga soul sister and it was during a despair filled moment that she said: We cannot be part of yoga prostitution, all we can do is stay true to our selves and keep going, even if it is against the popular flow of commercialised teacher training, rampant mountain retreats and yoga beach holidays.

Most yoga practicing women have made a beginning and largely stuck with fine tuning to perfection of physical asana, among the first steps of the yogic ladder of progress: it is upto us now to make an effort to climb further and aspire to higher ethics to elevate our sisters and society from its afflictions. All karma creates an imprint on the soul and it impacts or reflects on the beauty and grace of each woman. May we find strength through our practice to move towards the identity of our graceful souls that do not require the illusion of makeup,diets, or the fancy yoga gear to define WHO AM I; that burning question of the soul that has manifest in human form to enable it to arrive at the final answer of the one truth of cosmic consciousness.

The onus is upon the the yogini woman to live up to the title by a code of ethics, reclaim her identity as is through her yogic practice and share the truth forward.


Comments 1

Guest - Thirunavukkarasu on Wednesday, 07 March 2018 16:32

These days yoga is mostly meant for external things or bodily matters rather than what it was actually meant. This post highlights the importance of the union of body, mind and supreme being. Great. Thanks for the post.

These days yoga is mostly meant for external things or bodily matters rather than what it was actually meant. This post highlights the importance of the union of body, mind and supreme being. Great. Thanks for the post.
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