Yoga ( योग ) is a Sanskrit word derived from the word yuj ( युज् ) which means to attach, join, or harness. In the Western world, Yoga is typically associated with contortionism and acrobatic inversions. In the Eastern world, the physical aspect of Yoga practice is more commonly associated with breathwork (Pranayama) and meditation (Dhyana). These are not irreconcilable differences. Rather, they are examples of how different cultures associate with the practice of Yoga.
With that said, Yoga is a gift from the East to the West. This must always be acknowledged. At the same time, many Western practitioners are demonstrating wonderful appreciation of the practice and they share their message in a way which surely respects the cultural heritage of Yoga practice.
Yet, Yoga is more than a gift from East to West. It is, according to Vedic philosophy, a gift from the gods (Shiva) to humans everywhere. As such, it was the duty of the early Rishis to share this practice with the world.
I was born and raised in Cork City. I remember fondly picking up a book on Yoga practice and witnessing a man perform the Lotus posture (Padmasana). While it would be some years before I developed my own practice, it marked a life-long curiosity with this thing called Yoga.
The point is, Yoga reached me even as a young boy in the South of Ireland. So, I think I can say that those Rishis have fulfilled their duty as Yoga is now available to an ever widening audience across the globe.
In the process, the practice is going to be transformed and reimagined. There are going to be those who exploit the teachings to selfish and indeed nefarious ends. However, I can say that in my experience thus far I have only met the most sincere of teachers who have shared wisdom freely with me.
The bulk of my learning has been with Sackies Skalkos of Yoga Republic in Cork City. Although I did not complete my teacher training with Sackies, I have learned so much from this man. He shares his practice completely with all who enter his doors. More than that, he shares a part of himself with each of his students.
I completed my teacher training in Mysore at Atmavikasa Yoga Kutira under the guidance of Yogacharya Venkatesha and Acharya Hema. I spent one month undergoing an intensive backbending course and a further 350 hours Teacher Training and Yoga Therapy course. Atmavikasa transmits a very pure version of Yoga with a zealous attention to alignment and form. The style is slow and steady and guaranteed to bring about an increase in awareness and relaxation.
Experiencing Yoga practice from authentic and sincere teachers is vital. There are many around - the most important thing is to find them. I wish you the very best as you begin what promises to be a wonderful journey for you.