Why is it so difficult for us to get over our prejudices? Why is it so difficult for us to believe that a god would teach a fish the Truth? After all the Vedantic teachings, which influenced early Yoga philosophy, say that all is Brahman, that there is nothing in this universe but God. From this it follows that the nature of all beings is divine, whatever their outer form, and therefore a great Guru or teacher could appear in any shape — or indeed species — provided our eyes are open enough to recognise this, as Shiva could.
Patañjali teaches that “the greatest obstacle to the practice of Yoga is one’s own prejudices based on one’s own preferences” (hānam eṣāṃ kleśavad uktam PYS 4.28). So we might say that one of the aims of Yoga is to open our eyes to our inevitable preferences so that we can observe how this influences our behaviour. With time and practice, when our prejudices arise or our expectations aren’t fulfilled, we might find ourselves less thrown off balance and more able to cope with things not going our way.
Maybe next time in class you notice yourself labelling poses as ones you like or dislike, you can let go of the preferences and simply experience each āsana for what it is. Or if you can’t get your usual favourite spot in the room, you can be equally content to roll your mat out in a different place. You might make a new friend there. And teachers appear in unexpected places.
Alessandro teaches Jivamukti Vinyasa Yoga on Tuesdays at 18.45, Lotus Flow Advanced Vinyasa on Thursdays at 19.15, Vinyasa Yoga at 07.00 on Fridays, Hot Power at 10.00 on Fridays, and 2 hour Vinyasa on Sundays at 9.30.