Yoga: An Interdisciplinary Approach Part Two


Dr. Don Stapleton PhD Teaching

Don Stapleton

“In the many wisdom traditions throughout history, the body has been called a temple for the spirit.  We prefer to begin with an image that is less grandiose than a temple. A temple is an awesome destination. To go to a temple requires that I come outside of my home and everyday life in order to come in contact with the presence of the sublime. Rather than a temple of magnificent marble columns and lofty spire, we are inviting you into an image of your body that is more personal, more like a cozy seat in front of a hearth, shared with your most trusted friend. And this trusted friend beside you is yourself – not the lofty teachings of an authority on mystical transcendence, but the wisdom of your own inner counsel.

Among the many views present in the work of yoga today, we hold a perspective that comes from an inquiry into who you already are. In our view, yoga is an inquiry that begins when you come to the questions of meaning an purpose in your life. Yoga can be a mirror for you to behold the power, beauty and wisdom that is bubbling inside of you. We sincerely desire that the time you invest in this inquiry will result in a deeper appreciation of the flesh and blood home of your own body. Nothing less than a homecoming to the cozy security of your home within.

Yoga Senses Workshop

Yoga Senses Workshop

In contrast, yoga is often presented in the West as an austere and esoteric discipline, somewhat unattainable. The books, journals and media have produces image of perfect postures modelled by perfect people that become internalized as secret goal we long to achieve. These presentations can easily become more ways to separate ourselves from our in-born wisdom by glamorizing the technology of yoga and idealizing the authority special star yoga teachers. Yoga can appear as yet another way to look outside of ourselves for the peace and harmony we seek.

What if there were another way to a harmonious integration of body, mind and spirit that did not require you to leave the truth of your own inner wisdom and the comfort of your body as your home? What if you relaxed into a relationship with yourself in which you have the attitude of fascination, being so absorbed in the intrigue of your actual experience that you become interested in yourself as you are, interested both in the pleasure and the pain of being you? Is it possible that the environment of your body could feel like home – like a place you would want to be in which there were no goals you had to impose upon yourself to make your body different of better? To return to the vivid sensations of being at home in our bodies requires a new kind of journey that does not travel beyond ourselves as the source for self-improvement. To come home to ourselves, we are needing a return to the original creativity of spirit which allows us the freedom and benevolence to begin with ourselves as we already are.

Our sense of who we ar as individuals develops within the context of our culture’s wisdom, history, and traditions. But hidden in the nature of being identified within any group – be that family, religion, or culture – is the seductive force that homogenizes all idiosyncratic differences into the unifying characteristics of the group. To come to intimately know ourselves as individuals requires turning inside to identify personal meaning and fulfillment.

In looking to the historic traditions of yoga as a map for making the inner journey, I have discovered that unless I look to the early spirit of inquiry and creativity modeled in the origins of Yoga, I am likely to get caught up in the expectations inherent in the contemporary versions of yoga that are cycling through our culture at the moment.  Many popular forms of yoga are offered with such fundamentalist zeal that personal inquiry is discouraged and experimentation with the traditional form is met with caution and fear. Routinized or formulaic approaches to yoga that do not vary with the individual or take into account the developmental needs that arise at different stages of life can become internalized as a substitute for genuine self-inquiry into what stimulates our evolutionary capacities toward growth and change.

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