There was an interesting article that appeared in the November 2010 issue of Yoga Journal, by Mark Singleton, who in his exploration of the roots of yoga discovered that the contempory asana based practices of yoga we all enjoy in the west find their roots not amongst the ancient strategies that yoga schools have traditionally laid claim to, but to more recent ones like those of the “Danish System” which was an off shoot of a 19th century Scandinavian gymnastics tradition, that had revolutionised the way Europeans exercised. Systems based on the Scandinavian model sprang up throughout Europe and became the basis for physical training in armies, navies and many schools. These systems also found their way to India.
What was deeply interesting to me as I read the article was not so much the authenticity or the verification of this information, but something else that had become clear to me years ago within the early days of Yogabeats, a simple pivotal turning point that consequentially and entirely transformed the practice itself. It was at the point where I spontaneously asked myself the question (upon entering an asana) “is this a loving or an unloving act?” This one simple notion transported me way past my practice mat and light years ahead of my own, often obsessive and neurotic over attention to somatics. It opened a doorway from rationalised linearity into one that is subjective and at once, both subtle spontaneous, unbounded and unlimited. A place wherein I discovered great joys/pleasures/fulfilment, and a peace beyond all of my own understanding! Of course as an avid investigator of the “mysteries,” this is the very same doorway that every religious/cultural practice alludes to, and the one that bridges the two worlds of objectivity(mind) and subjectivity(feelings).
So Mr Singleton, whether the Asanas originated in Denmark/Scandinavia or not, let me pose a simple thought, “if a yoga asana practice has the ability to transport the practitioner through a transformational doorway and back into the domain of the human heart, with all its incumbent physiological/psychological benefits, then who really much cares where the asanas actually came from?!?!”