Over the years, I have observed several basic principles I think help to explain why yoga is so important.
The 9 Natural Laws of Yoga will form part of the groundwork for our journey through the FUNdamentals & Basics of Physical/Mental Yoga & Preventive Yoga Therapy. I hope to illustrate and describe some key aspects of this handful of Natural Laws in the min-e-Course, included with your subscription to my Occasional e-Letter on Yoga.
Now, truth is, there are, of course, a LOT more than nine natural laws we could talk about. (And we will, if you go deeper into my courses.) But I wanted to keep things as simple and basic as possible to get this process started.
Natural Laws of Yoga are PHYSICAL Laws
They are of Nature, which is physical, or “material,” in essence. They can be observed and proven through direct experience, with little or no ambiguity or opinion to get in the way of understanding. And most of what you’ll find in the pages of this website and my books are well explained by orthodox, medical sciences.
HOWEVER, much of how the mind and emotions work is indeed physical too. Though the conscious content of our thinking and feelings might be purely conceptual, they exist or function via the nerve impulses of the nervous system and brain. They have a very definite physical structure — electrical and biochemical in nature — producing their function. Part of Jnana* (mental) Yoga, is about observing and working with this structure and function via a meditative mind. However much of it might be spiritual, much of it is indeed physical, too.
Jnana is one of the small handful of Sanskrit words I use. While the word jnana implies knowledge or wisdom by an observer, it also implies an internal consciousness of beingness of the observer, being a part of the experience. This is somewhat different than Western philosophy and language, where the observer is held to be as detached, separate or objective as possible from the phenomena being observed. Jnana Yoga, then, is a more wholistic, integral experience of knowledge & wisdom.
We can, paradoxically, through a more conscious approach to physical yoga, make much progress in personal self-development and psycho-emotional healing via mostly physical means. And if people begin to see that aspect of yoga working, they might well be inclined to look at the deeper elements of being human, and doing yoga as a way to experience and explore that phenomena.
Starting From Where People ARE,
Not Where You Think or Want Them To Be
As always, I believe it is best to start from where you — or, if you’re a yoga teacher or therapist, or personal trainer, your Clients and Students — actually are, not where you want yourself — or your Students — to be. This is especially true when talking to people who’ve not yet decided to do yoga, or are just getting into it. As I have said elsewhere, when talking about yoga to new people in regular society, you want to avoid the Roll-the-Eyes factor when possible. 🙄
The Idea Is: I believe we can discover some Foundational Principles common to all human beings — principles requiring NO mystical or magical or religious thinking to understand or accept. Then we can educate people in these principles, and, hopefully, as more people try it out at a more physical level, they might become more willing to look into the psychological, emotional, and even spiritual possibilities.
That way, yoga will become far more widely accepted as a tool of physical, emotional and psychological health, well-being, and healing for those in need of it. But, if you are so inclined for yourself — or with Students or Clients — you can bring the more esoteric consciousness part in when you want (or when Students are getting into it)
Yet it should be repeated, you won’t find much “esoteric” in these pages, if any.
Esoteric: intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest
On the contrary, I intend for a large number of people to be able to understand what I am talking about. Yes, it is quite specialized. Yet I go to great lengths to make sure it is presented in a way that the average but interested person an understand it with little or no trouble.
Yoga Was Not Very Popular In India Until . . .
A good example of this is that “Yoga” has been done in India for many centuries, but by only a very tiny percentage of people there. It was, and to a lesser degree still is, perceived by Indians as mostly a religious, spiritual or even mystical practice. And if you read some of the writings by certain practitioners or masters, they truly believe that yoga has inherent religious or spiritual aspects that, to them, cannot be denied or avoided. Some people promote the belief, for instance, that yoga postures are inherently exercises of worship to a divine principle or entity.
Yet all but a dozen or so of the yoga postures we are familiar with were NOT practiced in India till a hundred or so years ago. They were, in fact, imported into India from Europe, mostly for strictly fitness reasons. (You can read about this in the great book, Yoga Body, by Mark Singleton.) The “spiritual” part was added on later. Yet many practitioners hold to the belief these physical postures were”spiritually inspired” by “great sages” of “ancient India.”
And many people, including those (usually followers of a major religion) who are against it being practiced for spiritual or religious reasons, insist the physical yoga postures are inherently religious in nature.
They are of course, free to believe all that stuff. And if someone WANTS to pursue those paths as spiritual disciplines, that’s perfectly okay with me. What is NOT okay, at least in my view, is to attempt to make or force other people to feel they are wrong, incomplete, or somehow deficient because they do not follow a particular interpretation, path or belief from a particular tradition, be it Eastern OR Western.
I, for one, do not see any necessarily inherent or rigid mystical, religious or philosophical qualities to this practice called “yoga.” Because “yoga” is, in itself, just a word, it can mean many different things to many different people. (If you study a comprehensive Lexicon of the Sanskrit language, you’ll discover there are MANY definitions of the word yoga having NO spiritual implications AT ALL. But the Question, What Is Yoga? is another topic all together.)
(The same is true of all belief systems and the language used, but don’t get me started on religion, politics, economics or law. At least not now. However, you CAN do that at www.AmericanYogi.us if you want.)
The important — and ironic — thing is that far more people in India are doing yoga because it has become popular here in the United States and the West in general. Yet for many people, maybe most, yoga has swung the other way and become a strictly physical exercise, with very little real consciousness invested, if any at all.
Then, you reach the question of whether or not consciousness necessarily implies spirituality, religion, or whatever. … Again, we each have our own way of viewing and experiencing that. But no one owns or has a copyright on the words yoga, or consciousness or what ever words you want to use, either. … NOT even the people who “discovered” it.
Yoga Is A Human Endeavor,
NOT Necessarily Eastern
Just because yoga was discovered in the East (if indeed it was), does not mean they own the meaning or even practice of it. The person who discovered the existence of air did not get rights to tell other people how it be used, or not used. And to me, the functions of yoga are just as inherent to human anatomy, kinesiology & physiology as functions of breathing or digestion. It’s just that the yogic operations can lie more-or-less dormant, or at least unconscious, for a long time, maybe even (more often) a lifetime.
Although I also believe much of what yoga is all about is already going on anyway, most or all of the time, in most people. It’s just operating below the conscious level of experience unless cultivated to a higher level of awareness and function.
On one hand, an objective of the DSL approach to Yoga is to realize that physical and mental yoga and yoga therapeutics are Human Endeavors, not necessarily Eastern Endeavors. The word “yoga” does not, as some insist, necessarily imply a certain or particular orientation or set of beliefs about people, spirituality, religion, or life-in-general. One does not need to follow or even accept the spiritual traditions of the East to be doing “real” or effective yoga. And much of what people call yoga today is actually a cultural overlay from India, applied to particular aspects human beingness.
If it’s true that yoga postures are inherently a worshiping of Hindu Gods, then even orthodox physical therapists are leading their patients to sin every time they show them how to do certain stretches, like cobra pose. … But it’s just kind of absurd to assume these stretches are necessarily religious. Or said another way, if every time someone drinks some wine while they eat some bread, are they necessarily taking the Catholic Communion?
Or does it have more to do with the INTENT of the person doing the cobra or eating the wine and bread?
On the other hand, DSL Yoga is contributing to the moving back toward a middle ground: A perspective where — if a person wants to — yoga is done with a great deal of Consciousness and Introspection, and respect for it as a true tool of bodymind health, healing and integration. Yet one can be very conscious without being mystical, magical or “out there.” The word Spirituality is not inherently an other-worldly or “woo-woo” experience.
Bringing The Spiritual Into Daily Living
As my by far Number 1 yoga teacher, Joel Kramer* teaches, spirituality can be about bringing so-called spiritual awareness into the day-to-day, here-on- or down-to-earth, even mundane realities of daily life. Past or future lives, karma, some version of heaven or hell, or other dimensions of reality, are not required to have a valid “spiritual” experience. (I.E., the love of a mother for her children, or between two lovers, is as much a “Spiritual Experience” as anything.)
This, of course, depends on how you define the word Spiritual. But we’ll get deeper into that to another page on this website.
Joel Kramer’s approach to Yoga was ground-breaking. Many people have called him both The Father of American Yoga and the 1st American Yoga Master. … “He is a pioneer and legend of modern American yoga whose evolutionary vision of yoga freed it from its authoritarian roots, re-visioning it for the West.” From Biography on Joel’s Yoga at Amazon.com
We in The West can truly construct, if we so desire, a totally valid and authentic system of physical, mental and relational yoga based on our own Western view-points, including the Scientific Method, if we desire. And there can be as many valid, unique and authentic expressions of and approaches to the practice — and teaching — of yoga as there are people on Earth. … Exclusivity, conformity and/or standards are NOT required.
It is upon these Natural or PHYSICAL (which includes mental and emotional) Laws that the DSL approach to Yoga for the WEST of Us is being constructed. It is based on a Western Psycho-Philosophical & Spiritual Tradition, and informed by Essential Insights from the Eastern traditions.
New Doors To Being Human?
NOT a Repeat of Past Ideas
Yet DSL Yoga is an open-ended system, focusing on principles and ideas of what is, leading to what could be, or what’s possible; opening new doors to Being Human, rather than a pre-ordained, age-old, traditional structure we think we must fit ourselves into. Elsewhere on this site, in the Philosophy sections, you’ll read about shifting from Old Paradigm Learning to New Paradigm Learning. Hopefully we, and you, will be doing a lot of that here.
You can apply DSL Principles to ANY system of yoga, or even fitness and healing. Because if a system for being human is valid, it must account for the Natural Laws we must all live with on a day to day basis.
DSL is not looking for clones or disciples or followers. DSL is not trying to lock you into a particular path. Yes, if you find value, and want to pursue it, there are many hundreds of hours of training and experience available with The DSL Method of Yoga (and Bodywork, too). … But you are free to apply and use the work any way you want.
My only request is that you represent DSL as it is actually presented, or let people know if you have made your own modifications to it. Or just don’t call it DSL Yoga at all. … It would be nice if you acknowledge your sources, though, assuming I contributed to your insights, knowledge and/or skills. … I always do.
Anyway, if indeed there ARE mystical or non-material, supernatural or divine realms out there, it is far more likely that discovering them will occur by becoming close, direct observers of Reality, of what actually is, rather than trying to imagine a hoped for other-reality into existence. In fact, that is one aspect of what we’ve been taught in certain disciplines from the East — to be with what is, as it is, with nothing added.
But then we get mixed messages. As Joel Kramer has said, so many so-called spiritual paths tell us the Kingdom of God, or whatever, is within. Then they give us a big list of all the OTHER places to look.
Yet as Ken Wilber says, nearly everyone has at least SOME handle on The Truth. Let’s see if we can sift through it all, finding what’s real, and what’s not. In the end, that’s a team effort.
Thanks Again for Signing Up for the Min-e-Course on the 9 Natural Laws of Yoga … Or if you did not, here’s another opportunity:
Essence, Values & Benefits
of Physical/ Mental Yoga
Applying to ALL Human Beings in ALL
Societies, ESPECIALLY for the
Western Body, Mind & Culture
in Modern America
And Please Leave Your Comments Below
Thanks for Reading & Take Care,
David Scott Lynn (DSL*)
*DSL: Your Hi-Touch Up-Link to the Inner-Net**
**Inner-Net: Your Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial Network