Monday, May 11, 2009

Japanese Yoga

A friend and I have been emailing about the authenticity -- or lack thereof -- in many of the world famous yoga teachers today. I wonder if those that have fame and appear to have lost the true meaning of yoga and living a life of ahimsa (non-violence) began with inner peace and the challenges of being in such high demand threw them or if they never really "got it" to begin with.

The teachings found in Japanese Yoga by H. E. Davey align with what my heart tells me is true. This book crossed my path quite unexpectedly which makes it all the more divine.

A month or so ago, my son's Japanese class requested that I come in to teach them some yoga. After making sure they understood that Yoga was from India, and not Japan, I agreed. While investigating to see if there was any correlation between Japan and Yoga, the name Dr. Nakamura Tempu came up. He is known as "the father of yoga in Japan." Davey's book provides an interesting, if not fascinating, story of Dr. Nakamura's life.

I am only about a quarter of the way into the book, but so far it's very impressive and rings true to me. Here are a few excerpts that will give you an idea of the foundational mindset and attitude behind this style of yoga:

"I absolutely reject [the role of guru or spiritual authority]. To look to another for the truth is to miss the Way of the universe that's eternally right before our eyes. It's to attempt to see through the eyes of another person, and it is destined to result in delusion--the follower believes he's seen the truth, but he's only seen a reflection of the truth at best, and the leader believes he or she is doing something right because of the worshipful attitude of the followers." (pg 11)

"[We] are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe (ki in Japan, prana in India), and, as a result, we can learn directly from the universe itself." (pg. 27)

"[The] body acts as a reflection of the mind." (pg. 44)

The premise is that truth is only known when you experience it yourself. Davey continuously stresses the reader to perform the exercises repeatedly to see for yourself what is happening. The exercises I've used so far are about discovering for yourself the power of the mind in the body.

It's refreshing to find a teaching that truly guides the participant so that they may discover for themselves what is true instead of claiming it must be true because some yogi with a lot of experience or even an ancient text says so.

To finding your own inner guru,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!


Manjula said...

Hi Kris,

Super post! Glad to have found your blog!

I stumbled upon your blog and this post and couldn't help but comment. :)

While the essence of it does ring true that truth is only known when you experience it yourself....I'd like to share an opinion on the excerpt about the Guru:

"I absolutely reject the role of a Guru..." - A true Guru (not one created by the media or blind devotee following) can certainly cut short the learning curve whether thru guidance, grace or a combination of both. And, a true Guru will also guide and encourage a student to seek their truth through their own experience. A Guru is not a requirement to experience Truth, but for those fortunate to find their Guru - the learning can be a whole lot quicker and easier.

Not having read the book - It wouldn't be fair to express an opinion since this is only an excerpt....I am merely commenting on the difference of opinion on the Guru aspect.

Anonymous said...

Oh, fantastic! This sounds amazing!
Thanks for posting about it, Kris.

Singing Bowl said...

I just found your blog. Great articles and well written. Namaste!

Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

Thanks for all of your comments.

Manjula, excellent point regarding the possibility of someone guiding us and thus aiding in our own spiritual development. Very true. My concern is based on the frequency that I've seen folks having blind faith in teachers (called gurus--albeit incorrectly) to the point that they trust the teacher more than their own inner guidence. I agree that a real bringer of light (guru) would provide tools for the student to glean Truth on their own. If we are open and aware, then the beggar on the street and the cruel boss are our gurus. When we see all of life as lessons that we need to learn and use our own emotions and reactions as sign posts for areas to develop from, then Life is our guru.
Interesting subject and important not to just get caught up in the term, "guru", as it's meaning has lost some of the original value over the years--in my opinion. Here are some other thoughts on this topic:

Anonymous said...

Hey Kris!

Just to let you know how much I appreciate your thoughts and support - here is a Lemonade Award!