Practice and Theory

I am surprised that so many people take SKPJ so literally when he says that Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. And then it reaches the heights of absurdity when someone works out the arithmetic – and decides that they need to spend 54.54 seconds on theory.

All SKPJ was actually trying to convey is that, by and large, you don’t learn yoga by watching it or reading about it. No doubt you benefit by watching the masters, but learning yoga is a matter of doing it and living it.

And what is theory in the context of asanas? It is studying watching the adepts and learning from them; it is knowing the names of the asanas, understanding their benefits, their composite vinyasas etc. The theory of Yoga is not the other seven limbs. Yoga, despite the way it’s perceived in the public consciousness, is not just the esoteric sequence of contorted poses that we spend 90 minutes on every morning. In fact it is not even primarily this. Most practioners I suspect realise this to be true deep down, but how many Ashtangis actually take it to heart? It is so ironic that a system of asanas given the name (for better or worse) Ashtanga has so many practitioners who are as obsessed with asanas as they are oblivious of the other seven limbs. That needs changing.

One Response to Practice and Theory

  1. yoga chickie says:

    Currently, my understanding of 99/1, vis a vis Asana practice is that you can talk about alignment til you’re blue in the face, but you only really progress by practicing the asanas.

    But I like your point, that yoga is way more than asana and that we learn it by living it, not just reading about it and talking about it.

    Nice point.

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