Yoga Month Chicago: My perspective

Written by Guest Blogger on September 13, 2011 in Yoga - No comments
chicago yoga month


Yoga Month? In the beginning it was hard for me to accept this concept of Yoga Month because it was difficult to not associate it with a commercialized way to promote, sell and market yoga products. But then I gave it more thought. Typically the drive behind celebratory months is to bring awareness to the particular area that is in observance for that selected month. What better way to bring awareness to yoga, the practice of awareness, than to have a nationally recognized month of observance?

There have been criticisms behind the true purpose of September being Yoga Month, but actually I have enjoyed the classes across Chicago to celebrate yoga, the articles in both Chicago and national publications about the practice, and so many other things that have reminded me of how good it is to have a yoga community. The awareness has made it easier to share the practice with others, whether it is introducing beginners to the practice or helping people with an existing practice grow and develop.

My excitement dwindled a bit as I began to read the fine print. Yoga month is an awareness campaign to bring awareness to the health benefits of the practice. I originally struggled with allowing the secondary benefits of the practice be the driver for what we now call Yoga Month.

The purpose of the practice is to arrive at Self Realization. The journey along that path and all that occurs in between is what yoga is all about. True, along that path one will receive the secondary benefits of yoga, which one of those may include some health benefits. But should that be the driver?

Then I thought back to my first introduction to yoga. It was in a Chicago gym and the only reason I consistently went to the Saturday morning yoga class was because the flow combined with the relaxation at the end of the class was the only thing that calmed me after a hectic work week. I later grew to understand why that was happening to me, but not until much later.

I say that to say, maybe the secondary benefits are what attract most in the beginning and maybe making Yoga Month about health awareness isn’t too bad. Potentially, a couple of sun salutations to get the insides going will lead to the deeper inquiry discussed in the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali 1.1; Now the inquiry of yoga begins (Atha yoga anushasanam). At least the grass roots awareness campaign called Yoga Month is about health and well-being and not about just the body and having yoga legs and toosh.

As you can see, I am still a little hesitant on totally accepting the idea of Yoga Month, but I think this is normal for something so new. After seeing how Chicago is responding to Yoga Month and seeing it being celebrated in so many different forms, I feel it is difficult to have negative feelings towards Yoga Month. I will continue to participate in the Chicago sponsored yoga activities and try to use the energy of Yoga Month as an educational opportunity as oppose to focusing on the fine print.

About the author: Get Lifted is a Chicago area yoga instructor with ten years of background and experience in both practicing and teaching yoga. He has traveled the world practicing and studying with teachers deeply rooted in the ancient forms of the art, philosophy and science of the practice. His over 1,000 hours of yoga teacher training has been with instructors with combined yoga teaching experience of over 100 years; passing down the tradition of kriya, puja, pranayama, mantra, samyama, yoganidra and asana.

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