To me, yoga is about being open and receptive to receive all good. If the teacher teaches from the heart and the student is ready to receive such openness, then, enjoy the whole of what is offered and relax in the gifts given and received. I personally resonate with raising the vibrations within and for me that includes chanting, breathing, asana and an open heart. Judgement creeps in for many. That is just life. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear! Enjoy and if you can't, then take another class with someone else until you feel at home. Shanti, Karen
No, Yoga is "the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind."( Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) Surrendering to a "god" is one METHOD of stilling the mind; one method among many. The entire Yoga philosophy is based on the older Samkhya philosophy of Kapila, which is atheistic.
Before deciding on a yoga studio, I called ahead to find out if the instructors aligned with what I wanted. I wanted zero chanting, zero Eastern influence, with no focus except a focus on the things that have been scientifically studied: muscles, bone, tendons.
Yoga is a purely physical pursuit for me and it was heartening to know that many yoga instructors out there share (for the most part) my point of view.
Just wanted to comment from another perspective! Yoga is wonderful, but like anything, we all interpret things in ways that make them work for us.
Yoga is a practice of uniting to god, divine, self, whatever you call it. how can someone benefit from yoga if they do not believe in god? The benefits people are experincing have little to do with "yoga", put anyone alone with their minds and make them do physical things they are gonna have to pay attention sooner or later that is if they continue to return. The same experinces are felt when doing any physical exercises its not unique to yoga.
This quote sums up my feelings about chanting in class:
"Chanting sort of depends on the person," says Rhonda Key, a YogaWorks instructor from Washington, D.C. "If I go into a yoga class and I'm ready to receive and participate, then it will benefit me. I enjoy it when it's sincere, but when it doesn't seem sincere, I'm thrown off by it and no longer get the benefit."
I teach a varied class 3 times a week with students of all ethnic and spiritual backgrounds, and I don't use chanting mainly because I remember how uncomfortable it made me feel the first time a teacher asked us to do it in a class. At the time I didn't understand what I was chanting or why, and that impression has always stayed with me as a teacher, although now I enjoy chanting in my own practice.
When I teach I offer the 'option' of spiritual exploration - using key phrases like "those students who would like to do so may bring the palms together in prayer pose", "if you want to, take a moment to turn your focus inwards to your emotions". This gives students an 'opt out', so they don't feel pressured into a spiritual practice. If people feel free to do or not to do, they just might be more likely to try! I have had good feedback about this from students who like the no-pressure approach.
Another trick I have learned is that every now and then when I can't help myself from introducing 'oms' into the class, I give students the option to just hum through the chant. This way those who are chanting don't feel under scrutiny, and those who don't want to can have a little part of the experience.
Thank you for this article. I appreciate hearing that I'm not alone in my reservations about chanting and expressions of devotion that I may not be comfortable with.