To start with my first question was “What authority NOS has to come up with such a document which has no sense of yoga standards or anything to actually do with teaching yoga.”
My second question was “How do they choose this panel of so called Yoga experts to come to this conclusion of basic standards to teach yoga”?
In their 44 page document, they had only one page which was actually devoted to yoga. Here they managed to write one definition of yoga as it comes from the Sanskrita Language from the root YUJ means uniting or union.
This is to me most disgraceful moment to see that all these chosen yoga experts have nothing more to say. There are so many definitions of yoga from many yoga scriptures- just few to mention here :
- Yoga is stilling or quietening whirlpools of mind- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
- Yoga is Union or Samadhi – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Bhagavat Gita and Yoga Upanishada.
- Yoga is skill in Action or yoga of desire less Karma- Bhagavata Gita.
- Yoga is living in equanimity- Bhagavata Gita.
- Yoga is Self-realisation- Yoga Vashishtha and Bhagavat Gita.
- Yoga is a Path, Goal and Enlightenment- Yoga Vashistha.
These are just few. The one definition given demonstrates that the story of the frog and the well; the frog needs to come out to of the well to experience that the wall of well all around is not end of the waters. For the frog in well that is the whole universe. Once it can come out and experience the wide open vast oceans it can realise how limited he has been.
The second paragraph as it is written in the document:
“In the West, and in the context of this suite of National Occupational Standards, Yoga is understood to be primarily the paths of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga – the Yoga, which includes, but is not limited to, breath and body practices, and the Yoga of meditation. Through postures (asanas), breathing (pranayama), concentration (pratyahara), single pointedness (dharana), mindfulness and relaxation the body and mind are brought into, balance/harmony providing a powerful tool for physical and mental health.”
I am again not sure if this is real justification to what is being practiced and followed in west all together. This might be what is practiced and followed by the list of ‘experts’ who have concluded to this but as far as I am aware of Yoga in UK as has been followed by people from its most physical form of postures, viinyasa or sets of kriyas to pranayama, meditation, yogic life style, yoga diet, bhakti yoga through mantras and bhajans, yoga philosophy, kundalini yoga, tantra yoga, jnana yoga, karma yoga, and many other aspects. In some ways it is insult of all those true yogis and yoginis who are following in its true holistic sense by saying that in west yoga is primarily the path of hatha and raja yoga.
Also just to mention here not many yoga followers actually following classical hatha yoga. Vinyasa, Power, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Modern Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, etc don’t really follow Hatha or Raja Yoga and those are the most widely practiced aspects of yoga. But I have known most of them following basic principles of yoga philosophy, Mantra Chanting and Satsangas/ Jnana Yoga.
Also to mention Kundalinii Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is followed and practiced worldwide by a huge number of yoga seekers to attain health, well being and awakening the potential energies for spiritual evolution.
Third Paragraph in the document:
The principle text of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika attributed to Sage Svatmarama. Hatha Yoga is often considered as the preparatory practice for Raja Yoga as laid out in Patanjali’s Yogasutras. This text defines the process of yoga as a settling of the mind, leading to meditation and expanded awareness.
Again, I would like to ask did any of the experts even had a minute to find out that there are many other yoga scriptures on hatha yoga and not sure what makes them to say that Hatha Yoga Pradipika is the key hatha yoga scripture?
I personally found these following scripture a long with Hatha Yoga Pradipika as a key source to my Hatha Yoga Practice and Teachings.
- Gheranda Samhita
- Shiva Samhita
- Yoga Upanishada
- Yajnavalkya Upanishada
Now when it comes to yoga philosophy and its principal I can’t myself complete in yoga without Samkhya Yoga Philosophy, Yoga Vashistha, Bhagavat Gita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,
When it comes to concentration and meditation (dharana and dhyana) along with yoga sutras of patanjali, I must refer Kashmira Bhairava Tantra, Yoga Vashistha, Bhagavat Gita, Shiva Samhita, Svara Yoga and many more.
It is very sad that how someone can come to such a ridiculous conclusive statement and exclude holistic, flexible and universal approach of yoga providing us tools to not only transform our physical but also our mental, emotional and spiritual health and evolution.
Fourth paragraph in the document:
The ‘classical’ concept of Yoga is underpinned by ethics set out by Patanjali in the Yamas and Niyamas. For some, Classic Yoga practice is primarily considered as a path to spiritual enlightenment, whereas modern yoga classes take a wide variety of forms and may have multiple purposes, including promoting fitness and health, relieving common ailments, enhancing quality of life and managing stress.
Classical concept of Yoga has many pathas, approaches, styles and aspects and was never limited to one or other ideas or set of practices as it being said above. It has many yogas like Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Kriya Yoga, and many more.
All these paths provide us a set of overlapping practices, ideas and concepts to benefit us on physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual levels. Patanjali talks about five states of mind, five types of whirlpools of mind, nine obstacles, and so many other such aspects causing many physical, mental, emotional and social problems. So stating that it was merely path of spiritual enlightenment is not full justification. But remember holistic health and happiness can only be achieved and enjoyed through highest realization.
As I mentioned few hatha yoga scriptures above, they all talk about how various postures can cure and or prevent many physical illness which itself proves that yoga therapy has been practiced since ancient times. In kundalini and tantra yoga its primarily all about enhancing quality of your life forces and awakening the potential seed energies to live our lives to its best. Hatha details all about health and well being and details cleansing practices, pranayamas, mudras and bandhas to regain holistic health.
To me again above statement seems to be written and concluded by someone who is very limited in knowledge and understanding of yoga.
The real danger here is having some these big egos, with lack of knowledge, awareness and wisdom trying to control and manipulate yoga to benefit their organisations. I do feel it is time to wake up, shake ourselves up and tell these people that they need to take a break, learn yoga and improve their own knowledge and understanding of yoga as it says in rest of the document.
Now the rest of document is not specific to Yoga, and anyone would need to know these to run any kind of business, we usually cover these aspects with all yoga teacher trainee students in few sessions of finding the qualities, expectations etc. Health and Safety, First Aid, and all such areas are advised to taken under separate trainings as you will do them anyway to run any type of business, events, organization or jobs. I can guarantee that you can ask any yoga teacher or professional they will tell you all these criteria’s so I don’t see anything special in this.
I do wonder how much money NOS and Skills Active managed to spend to research and conclude such a document to standardize yoga in UK?
In conclusion, I do not feel this document has understood Yoga its value and standards, it is a general document of basic qualities to do any job. To bring Yoga down to this so-called standard is demoralizing for those practicing and teaching Yoga and seems to be nothing more than an enforced form of controlling something for their own gain. Therefore, I oppose it.
Founder – Yoga Satsanga Ashram, Wales, UK