If you've ever been to a yoga class, it is likely that you heard the teacher say "Namaste" at the end of class. In the West, this salutation often gets interpreted as "the spirit within me is the same as the spirit within you and all things. This oneness pervades all of existence." This is a specifically non-dualist philosophy/spirituality that sees unity in all of the universe, a philosophy that is central to Advaita Vedanta, one of the schools of Hindu thought.
The Yoga Sutras by Patañjali, on the other hand, espouse a dualistic philosophy wherein the 'consciousness' (purusha) is separate from 'matter' (prakriti). Furthermore, there is a separate God figure, Ishvara. The idea that "all is one" is simply not present. Quite the contrary, since the philosophy of yoga is based on the idea that our suffering will cease only when we realize that our 'consciousness' is different from 'matter,' specifically our body and the objects we experience with our senses.
We must acknowledge that these two ideas conflict. They are irreconcilable with each other. And although there are many definitions and philosophies of yoga throughout history, it is important that we realize what ideas we are perpetuating, and that we are careful not to teach ideas that are philosophically incompatible.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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