Sometimes the warring yoga factions out there make my head spin. While I understand the passion some yogis feel when they find a practice philosophy that resonates with them, I find it hard to watch if that turns into disrespect for other schools of practice. I wrote this after watching one such "debate" turn into a full blown yogi feud about how one type of yoga was a magical cure and another illegitimate fluff.
When I first began my practice I often read things in the more "revered" yoga texts like "The cure for x (disease or disorder) is to hold y (usually an advanced) pose for 25 breaths."
Maybe it happened to work for someone out there, but so far I haven't come across any school or method that has the power to cure.
Yoga is not a cure afterall.
Your time on the yoga mat is entirely what you make it.
If you are using it as a bandaid solution or temporary escape from the problems and stress in your life, it will be just that. And heck, I can think of thousands of other things that would be far worse for you to use to buffer with for an hour or so.
If yoga is your preferred method to keep the body fit and agile then you will find a wide range of methods and options to suit your particular interests.
If you are using your yoga practice as a path to self-discovery or as your personal spiritual ritual then you will turn your humble mat into a temple.
The way you use this tool of physical yoga is entirely up to you. And whether you are in it to gain spiritual depth or simply to feel a little bit better than you already do, never forget that it is your path and it is unlikely you could ever "do it wrong".
It may provide space in your day that you needed to have that big insight.
The practice may provide the movements you needed to build strength and shape your body the way you wanted it.
The community you practice in may teach you about healthier, more supportive relationships.
Or maybe it is just a great way to get out of your own head for a little while.
None of these reasons is any better than the other.
BUT remember, yoga has no inherent power to change you. A hammer just sitting in a tool box can't create anything. It is totally useless until you pick it up and start pounding nails into wood with the intention to build something.
Yoga is just a tool.
And you get to decide for yourself how you want to use it.
Enjoy your practice whatever it looks like.
Photo Credit: Medicine by herval