Yoga retreats run by Yoga Now Malaysia in Langkawi

The teachers at Yoga Now Malaysia welcome anyone who is sincerely interested in learning and practicing yoga with them by participating in their yoga retreats or workshops, however, there might be people who want to join a retreat or workshop at Yoga Now Malaysia might not understand what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats or workshops here, assuming that the retreats or workshops to be in certain ways that they expect it to be, and they might not like the kind of retreats or workshops run by Yoga Now Malaysia, where they would feel regret or disappointed for joining a retreat or workshop here that is not what they anticipated what it is.

Everyone has the freedom to like or dislike something. The teachers respect everyone as they are for what they like and don’t like.

Yoga Now Malaysia don’t discriminate anyone by filtering everyone before accepting the retreat or workshop requests from anyone, but in order to avoid some people who might not understand what the teachers teach in the retreats and workshops, or what kind of retreats or workshops are running by Yoga Now Malaysia, but they sign up for a retreat or workshop without proper understanding of what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats or workshops here, and end up quitting the retreat or workshop half way, generating disharmony in themselves and wasting the time, energy and effort of both parties, it would be better if people understand a little more about what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats and workshops before they sign up for a yoga retreat or yoga workshop run by Yoga Now Malaysia in Langkawi Island.

The yoga retreats and workshops are for those who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga that is about freeing the mind from the cause of suffering – Ignorance and its by-products of egoism, impurities and restlessness. Some people might think and believe that they sincerely want to learn and practice yoga, but they don’t really want to practice yoga that is about yoga. They only love certain part of the yoga practice and the commercial retreat activities that they know, that they like, which they enjoy, that make them feel good, healthy, happy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong with that if people just want to do some yoga exercises and enjoy some social/community activities that make the minds feel good and meaningful.

The retreats and workshops teach yoga that allow people to know what is going on in their minds to know the root cause of all kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear, worry, loneliness, meaninglessness, or suffering, and work diligently to free their own minds from the root cause of all kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear, worry, loneliness, meaninglessness, or suffering. It’s not a pleasant process for most egoistic prideful minds upon coming in contact with the truth of what is going on in the mind as the ego is going to be eliminated/destroyed through the realization of the truth, where the truth is the opposite of everything that the ignorant egoistic mind used to think and believe what things are. There will be intense resistance coming from the egoistic prideful mind.

Those who never practice yoga before, and those who have been practicing yoga but they come with an open mind will appreciate the retreats and workshops as they are and will learn something invaluable for the rest of their life. Those who come with closed mind and expectation, or have doubt and hesitation towards the teachers or the retreat or workshop, will not be able to allow the retreats or workshops to be what they are and couldn’t learn anything. And there’s nothing wrong with people have doubts or hesitation towards the teachers that they never met before, and towards the retreat or workshop that they never attended before. But when the doubt and hesitation is too over-whelming, it will affect their perception towards everything.

Yoga Now Malaysia is a simple home based small yoga studio situated in a small village that run flexible dates retreats and workshops which are subject to availability and the teachers run retreats and workshops even if there’s only one person attending. Most of the retreats and workshops have only one person joining and occasionally there might be a few people over-lapping with one another during the same dates. The retreats are not fixed dates retreats with a group of people.

There is only one room available at Yoga Now. For those who want to stay at the accommodation at Yoga Now, they need to know that it will be only themselves staying there regardless of whether there are other people joining a retreat or workshop during those dates, or not.

People who truly want to learn and practice yoga should have no problem with living alone and being the only person in a retreat. As yoga practice or Sadhana is about live alone, eat alone, walk alone, meditate alone.

This is the first determination – learn to be by oneself.

Meals are not provided. Everyone needs to look after their own meals and there are many existing restaurants about 3 Kilometres away that cater to all budgets and tastes. Yoga Now Malaysia is not a hotel or guesthouse. There’s no room service or housekeeping for the accommodation at Yoga now. The teachers will clean up the accommodation thoroughly before the guests check-in and after the guests check-out. But, during the retreat, people who stay at the accommodation at Yoga Now need to be self-initiative and self-reliant to look after the cleanliness and tidiness of their living space. Those who arrange their own accommodation somewhere else also need to arrange their own transport between their accommodation and the yoga studio to attend the retreat sessions.

Some people say that they don’t want to join the retreat because there’s no food or transport included, they feel that it’s very inconvenient and troublesome. While some even say that they initially wanted to join the retreat at Yoga Now Malaysia, as they have heard or read about the food used to be provided at the yoga retreats at Yoga Now Malaysia was very good, but then they don’t want to come for the retreat when they found out that food is not included anymore. It shows that learning and practicing yoga with the teachers from Yoga Now Malaysia is not a priority, but food and all kinds of conveniences are more important to them.

Yoga Now Malaysia doesn’t advertise anywhere and doesn’t have any signboard. Upon confirmation of the yoga retreat, directions to the yoga studio will be given to those who need to arrange their own transport to the yoga studio. They need to be self-reliant to follow the directions that Yoga Now gave them and not depending on taxi drivers to bring them here, as taxi drivers don’t know where the yoga studio is even when people give them an address. Address doesn’t mean anything to the taxi drivers, as it is a house in a village where there’s no street/road name. People who followed the directions would have no problem finding the yoga studio, only those who refused to follow the directions but depend on the taxi drivers would have problem finding it.

Those who really sincerely want to learn and practice yoga with the teachers from Yoga Now Malaysia, food is not that important and there’s nothing too much troublesome and inconvenience that would stop them from coming to learn and practice yoga with the teachers.

This is the second determination – learn to be self-initiative and self-reliant.

The retreats or workshops don’t teach any particular style of yoga, or any particular kind of yoga practice designed specifically for particular type of rehabilitation of physical injuries or illnesses, neither it’s for any kind of ‘healing’ or ‘detoxification’. It’s also not a fitness yoga camp to attain physical fitness/strength/flexibility/ability to do some yoga poses. But everyone do their best to perform the practice without attachment or expectation, and allowing the result or the fruit of practice to be there as it is. And eventually, they learn to become their own teacher, when they developed awareness, openness, correct understanding, self-reliance and self-discipline, then everyone and everything and all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences are there to teach us something.

In the yoga retreats or workshops here, people learn to allow their mind to be opened, to inquire the truth of everything, including all the teachings of yoga, regardless of whether they like or dislike, agree or disagree with some of the teachings and practice, and whether they want or don’t want to practice some of the teachings and practice.

They learn about not to blind-believing, not to blind-following, not to blind-practicing, not to blind-agreeing or not to blind-preaching/sharing about anything that they read, or heard from somewhere and someone, even from this yoga retreat or workshop that they attended, but to purify and quiet the mind, to inquire or investigate the truth of everything, and realize the truth by themselves, to be free from ignorance.

They learn about “The body is not I, I am not the body. The mind is not I, I am not the mind.” and let go of attachment and identification with the impermanent and selfless body and mind as who they are. All kinds of problems and suffering that people think they have, started with the ignorant egoistic attachment and identification with the impermanent and selfless existence and function of the body and mind as ‘I’.

They learn how to unattached towards any particular thinking and belief in the mind that influenced them how they judge and react towards everything that the mind comes in contact with, or experiences, or perceives, which is not necessarily the truth of things. Quite many people do not like this teaching or practice of letting go the attachment and identification towards their particular thinking and belief that they have been identifying with as who they are, for a long time.

This is the third determination – learn how to unattached and unidentified with particular thinking and belief or any qualities of names and forms to be who they are, developing awareness, openness, correct understanding, self-reliance and self-discipline, and becoming their own teacher.

In the yoga retreat or workshop, people learn to develop awareness, self-discipline, self-reliance and self-control, to take full responsibility for all their actions and reactions and the consequences of their actions and reactions. How the mind reacts towards all the mind perception of names and forms is it’s own responsibility, whether the mind reacts and feels good or bad, happy or unhappy, satisfied or dissatisfied, positive or negative, like or dislike, agreement or disagreement, want or doesn’t want, pleased or displeased, loved or unloved, pleasant or unpleasant, motivated or demotivated, calm or disturbed, peaceful or peaceless, enjoy or suffer.

They learn to take full responsibility to look after themselves, the well-being of the body and the mind, and be free from clinging onto and longing or craving for love, care, support, encouragement, praise, compliment, acknowledgement, achievement, agreement, friendship, companionship, relationship, connection, or interaction, being immersed in solitude and silence, being in the present, being free from boredom, loneliness, unhappiness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, guilt, regret, pride, arrogance, craving, aversion, longing, the sense of meaninglessness and all kinds of dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, worry, offensiveness, defensiveness, agitation, depression, painful sorrow, or suffering.

This is the fourth determination – learn to take full responsibility towards one’s actions and reactions and the consequences of one’s actions and reactions, and look after the well-being of one’s body and mind.

They learn how to observe any physical injuries or illnesses that they have and the existence of any kinds of ‘hurts’ or ‘disturbs’ or ‘painful sorrow’ or ‘suffering’ in the mind by letting go of egoism, without generating attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, and learn to see the truth of impermanence and selflessness. Once the mind realizes or sees the truth of impermanence and selflessness, there is no need of any kinds of ‘healing’. All the good and bad condition of the physical body, and all the different states of the mind of all kinds of thought activities of reactions towards all the mind perception of names and forms, and all kinds of pleasant and unpleasant life experiences, are just what they are, that they are neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative.

They learn to perform all their actions, practice, duties and responsibilities without attachment and identification, and allowing the result or the fruit of actions to be what they are, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison or expectation. Being undetermined by the actions or the fruit of actions.

This is the fifth determination – learn to free the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, while do one’s best to perform any necessary actions, duties and responsibilities.

All the yoga practice in the retreat sessions are to purify and quiet the mind, to free the mind from egoism, impurities and restlessness, to prepare the mind for meditation, to allow the mind to reflect or inquire upon the truth of everything and be free from ignorance, and thus be free from the by-products of ignorance – All kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear or suffering.

This is the sixth determination – learn how to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness, to allow the mind to see the truth of names and forms – Impermanence and selflessness.

Yoga practice is about letting go of the past good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences, to free the mind from continuously being disturbed or determined by the past good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences. And without attachment towards all the good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences in the present moment now, being undetermined by all the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, and remain equanimous without clinging/craving towards the pleasant experiences, without aversion towards the unpleasant experiences. Also to free the mind from attachment and the desire of craving and aversion towards the future that doesn’t exist and being determined by the imagination/anticipation/projection/expectation towards the future.

And hence, the yoga teachers are not interested to be engaging in worldly social conversations and won’t be asking the guests about their past of what were their thinking and feelings/what they did or didn’t experience, or talking about the past experiences and projecting into the future, or what was/is their physical condition, ability and limitation, or how they think and feel in the present, to allow the guests to stop feeding or empowering the attachment and identification towards the past experiences and all the impermanent and selfless qualities of names and forms that are not who they are, and be aware of all the modifications of the mind without attachment, or identification, or desire of craving and aversion.

This is the seventh determination – learn how to be in the present, free the mind from being conditioned and determined by the past experiences or the future imagination. And without attachment towards all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences in the present moment as even this present moment is impermanent.

Yoga practice is about silencing the ever restless mind, or the annihilation of the modifications of the mind. It’s not important whether the physical body is in good or bad condition, or whether life is good or not good/easy or difficult, or what the body can do or cannot do, or whether the body is comfortable or uncomfortable, or whether the body suffers from certain injuries or illnesses, or not. It’s to go beyond the attachment and identification with the body and mind, but looking after the well-being of the body and mind out of compassion, not out of egoistic desire of “I want my body and mind to be like this, and I don’t want my body and mind to be like that.” and with the correct understanding of performing the yoga practice within one’s ability in the present and without forcing the body to go beyond its limitation. Allowing the practice and the fruit of the practice to be what it is. Allowing the body to be changing or improving naturally, without attachment and expectation. Without clinging onto or craving for injury-free/illness-free or good condition of the physical body, without aversion towards injury/illness or the bad condition of the physical body.

No matter how much limitation of physical movements and discomforts due to the existing injury or illness, one be determined to attend all the sessions even without much physical practice/movements, but just being aware of the limitation and discomforts without generating attachment, identification, craving and aversion, remain equanimous. And that’s already a great practice, greater than doing many yoga asana poses/exercises in the sessions that people enjoy doing, that make them feel satisfied and happy, but full of attachment, identification, judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion.

This is the eighth determination – develop patience, perseverance, determination, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation.

Not that the teachers don’t care about the students, when they don’t ask about the students’ well-being, as it is not important at all about how is the physical condition (injuries/illness/ability and limitation) or the state of the mind (happy or unhappy/positive or negative), when one truly understands what is yoga and is truly practicing yoga. And more importantly, it’s to allow the students to be unattached towards and undetermined by the impermanent and selfless condition and function of the body and mind, and learn to be independent, to observe what is going on in their body and mind, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness, to look after the well-being of their body and mind by themselves, to realize wisdom and unconditional love from within, be free from clinging and craving for receiving love, help, support or kindness from others, allowing others to show love, help, support and kindness to oneself, or not, without being determined by other people’s actions and reactions, where they don’t need to rely on a teacher, or anyone to be there for them, to be practicing yoga, to be doing something beneficial for themselves or others, to feel loved and supported, to feel being helped or looked after, to be motivated, to be acknowledged, or to feel meaningful.

There’s no need to have somebody there to comfort oneself, to be listening to one’s ‘problems’ or ‘complaints’, as there’s no ‘problem’ or ‘complaint’ when one knows yoga, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

This is compassion and liberation, although many people might not understand or agree with this. It’s normal that most people who attached strongly onto the worldly passionate thinking and belief couldn’t understand this teaching and practice particularly and have strong disagreements towards this teaching and practice, unless they go beyond all the worldly passionate thinking and belief. And that’s their freedom of thinking, actions and reactions.

Those who don’t understand, they have expectation towards everyone and everything to be in certain ways that they like and agree with. They expect the teachers should behave or treat them in certain ways. They expect the retreat should be run in certain ways. They feel offended, disappointed and hurt when people or things are not being the way that they want it to be, or when they are getting what they don’t like and don’t agree with, or when they are not getting what they like and agree with, and when something that they like has changed into something that they don’t like, or is being disturbed, or is no longer existing or available. As long as the mind is still functioning under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities, people would keep hurting themselves and others out of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

This is the ninth determination – to realize compassion or unconditional love, to stop hurting oneself and others out of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

All these practices and realization are nothing to do with the impermanent and selfless physical condition, physical appearance, physical ability and limitation; or the impermanent and selfless state of the mind; or how strong and flexible is the physical body to perform the yoga poses; or how many yoga poses the body can perform nicely and comfortably; or how long they can hold a particular yoga pose comfortably; or whether they perform the yoga poses in so called ‘perfect alignment’, or not; or whether they believe or disbelieve in God (existence); or whether they have or don’t have a religion belief and practice; or what type of religion belief and practice that they have; or what type and style of yoga they are practicing; or how long they have been practicing yoga; or who are their yoga teachers; or what type of food that they eat or don’t eat; or whether the minds think they are good or not good, positive or negative, happy or unhappy.

This is the tenth determination – to free the mind from being conditioned and determined by qualities and dualities and any thinking and beliefs.

It’s important as part of the yoga practice for the fees must be paid fully before the start of the retreats or workshops. Fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. In case of sickness or emergency that one couldn’t finish the retreat, one can replace the unattended retreat sessions on some other time in the future when retreat or workshop is available. The fees is about the retreat guests showing sincerity and determination to attend the yoga retreat or workshop, as well as to show appreciation and gratitude towards the yoga teachers and supporting the maintenance of the retreat centre to conduct such retreats and workshops to allow other people to learn and practice yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering. This is very important as part of the yoga practice of elimination of ignorance and egoism.

It’s not about paying some money in exchange for some customer services or commercial products in return. It’s about one gives before receive anything or even doesn’t receive anything in return. It’s not about one will ‘give’, after one received something that one likes and desires, and one will be reluctant to ‘give’ if one thinks one didn’t receive something that one likes or desires.

The teachings and practice of yoga is available anywhere and anytime that is nothing to do with ‘fees’ at all, such like anyone who visit this Blog can learn and practice yoga from all the posts about yoga here if they want, for free, but the daily/weekly/monthly/yearly maintenance of the living space and practice space of a retreat centre that allow people to come to learn and practice yoga under the teachers needs to be maintained by fees/money, to pay rental, bills, business license fee, building permit fee and lots of maintenance to upkeep the entire place. Even when there’s no retreat or workshop happening, when the teachers don’t teach classes or receive any fees, the teachers are still ‘working’ everyday to upkeep the entire place. But people don’t see this. They think that the teachers only ‘work’ when they are teaching classes. The teachers will be teaching as long as somebody sincerely wants to come to learn and practice with them. Sooner or later, even if someone wants to come to learn and practice yoga, the teachers will not be here anymore.

All the teachings, practice and realization are invaluable. It’s not something that one can buy or pay with some money and one will be free. But the fees in the form of money has its important function. Some people are not aware of they are exploiting the yoga teachers when they negotiate the fees with the teachers to get discount so that they can spend the saved money on something else, or thinking that the yoga teachers shouldn’t receive any fees as they believe that teaching yoga should be something charitable or as a service, expecting that all yoga teachers should have some full time or part time job or business, or beg for donations from the public to support their living and perform selfless service to teach yoga for free or at very low fees. That’s how people started to exploit yoga teachers thinking that that’s the way it should be. Even some yoga teachers would think like that. But it’s not. What they don’t understand is that the fees is not about paying for the teachers for their actions of teaching yoga, but it’s for many things that allow the teachers to be available here to teach yoga to other people at a particular time and space. If the teachers or the time and space are not available due to some reasons, then even though somebody want to pay some fees to the teachers, the teachers also cannot be here to teach yoga to anyone.

The retreat guests need to have certain degrees of determination and open mind to surrender all the doubts and hesitation towards paying non-refundable fees before the start of the retreat or workshop to be determined to finish the retreat or workshop regardless of any physical or mental discomforts/dislike/disagreement/aversion towards some of the teachings or practices and also due to the physical/mental/emotional purification process that may arise during/before/after the retreat or workshop, without forcing the body beyond its limitation, without hurting the body. If it’s too tired or sicked to perform any physical practice, one doesn’t need to do any form of physical practice, but still be practicing yoga by being present in the retreat sessions. But many people don’t get this. They would want to quit as soon as there’s some tiredness, dislikes, disagreements, discomforts or sickness.

Usually when there’s doubt or hesitation towards paying the fees before the retreat started is due to there are a lot of ‘what if’ over-powering people’s mind, and they afraid of they might regret or don’t like the retreat and will loose their money if they want to quit and won’t get any refund for quitting. They prefer to play safe by trying out without payment, and if they like it then they will pay. Or else they won’t pay if they don’t like it. But this type of petite mentality is one of the hindrance in the yoga practice. One should be determined to finished something that one started no matter how challenging it appears to be by putting aside all the impulsive likes and dislikes, craving and aversion.

Not about asking anyone to be compared with myself, but just to let people know that it’s possible to be determined to finished everything that we have started no matter how much challenges and obstacles and difficulties are there. Initially, I didn’t have enough money to pay for the yoga teachers training course when I paid the deposit to sign up for the course, but I never asked for any discounted rate or special rate from the Ashram, and somehow I managed to earn enough to pay for the fees and flight ticket and other expenses as well as supporting my parents’ living by working hard. My body was sicked for more than three weeks during the one month course when I was attending the first yoga teachers training course at Sivananda Ashram in 2005, but I never missed any classes, or quit. Neither did I expect to be receiving sympathy, empathy, attention, love and care from anyone. I looked after myself and knowing that it’s part of the purification process and it’s impermanent. And the next year, after came back from the advanced teachers training course and attended my first silent Vipassana meditation retreat, my whole body and face suffered from some kind of serious skin rash for more than one and half year. Again, it didn’t bother me at all. When I was young, the so called ‘astrologer’ said that I will never be a champion no matter how hard I try, but I managed to be a champion twice, and be qualified to represent Malaysia for competing in world championship in Sport Aerobics Competition. It’s all about determination, perseverance, discipline, focus, patience, forbearance, hardworking and independence.

For those who have developed a strong foundation of correct understanding towards the teachings and practice, where they have become their own teacher, then naturally and effortlessly, they are dispassionate towards a worldly passionate way of life and would renounce worldly social affairs, desires, relationships, connections, activities and interactions, immersing into the practice of silence, solitude and seclusion, to be focusing in their own practice to attain complete annihilation of the modification of the mind.

This might be the last but not least determination – to attain complete annihilation of the modification of the mind.

Everyone has the freedom to decide what they want or don’t want to practice after learning about the teachings and practice of yoga in the retreats or workshops, there’s nothing wrong if they don’t want to practice some of the teachings or practice, but more importantly, they learn to allow their mind to be opened, to be undisturbed by something that their mind dislikes, disagrees with, and doesn’t want to practice, but at the same time, allow the mind to be opened to inquire or investigate the truth of everything that the mind agrees or disagrees with, being aware of whatever the mind agrees or disagrees with are not necessarily the truth. That is already getting into the practice, even if they dislike, disagree with and don’t want to practice some of the teachings or practices of yoga. Then in everyday life, dealing with many people and things that are not necessarily that they like or agree with, but they are not disturbed by what they don’t like and don’t agree with, and have peace.

That is true compassion towards oneself and others, where one stops hurting oneself or others out of all kinds of impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, offensiveness, defensiveness, frustration, unhappiness, depression, pride, arrogance, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, hurts, regret, guilt, craving, aversion, impatience, intolerance, ill-will, animosity, unrest, fear or worry, under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

One is peaceful as one is, regardless of all kinds of mind perception of pleasant or unpleasant experiences, and all the impermanent changes of the different states of the mind, the mental achievement, ability and limitation; the physical achievement, ability and limitation, and the impermanent and selfless physical condition of aging, decaying, weakening, pain, illness and eventually stop functioning and decompose.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind, but also be responsible for all their decisions and desires, actions and reactions, and the consequences of their decisions, desires, actions and reactions.

Be happy.

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Thai food and yoga

There are people who have been enjoying eating ‘Thai food’ in some restaurants cooked by some chefs who don’t really know what is ‘Thai food’, or the ‘Thai food’ that they have been enjoying eating are being modified and presented differently from the traditional authentic ‘Thai food’ to suit the taste of people who prefer to eat bread and potatoes than rice or noodles, or who aren’t use to spiciness or the intense taste of fish sauce, which is the main ingredient for ‘Thai food’. And one day, they have the opportunity to come to an authentic ‘Thai food’ restaurant and they order some ‘Thai food’ to eat, some would appreciate the authentic taste of ‘Thai food’, and are glad to have tasted the real ‘Thai food’, while some would feel very disappointed as it’s not what they expected, where it’s completely different taste or presentation from the ‘Thai food’ that they usually eat, where the food doesn’t served with bread or potatoes and they don’t like the taste of the authentic ‘Thai food’, and they don’t want to finish the food that they ordered while refuse to pay the bill, or request a partial billing, saying that “Your food is not good. I don’t like your food. At home, our ‘Thai food’ served with some bread or potatoes. Your ‘Thai food’ doesn’t served with bread or potatoes. I don’t want to pay for the food that I didn’t want to finish eating because I don’t like it and it doesn’t served with bread or potatoes.”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they like and don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with people enjoy eating ‘Thai food’ that is not really ‘Thai food’ and rejecting authentic ‘Thai food’, but one still have to pay for the food that one ordered but didn’t want to finish eating because one didn’t like the taste or there is no bread or potatoes being served.

It’s similar as there are many people have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the world after attended and graduated from some kind of ‘yoga teachers training courses’ and call themselves ‘certified yoga teachers’, but not all these ‘yoga teachers’ are teaching yoga as it is, that allow people to develop the basic understanding about the elimination of ignorance and egoism, to be learning and practicing yoga that is not necessarily pleasant or enjoyable for the body and mind but might be very unpleasant and painful for the impure prideful egoistic mind during the purification process of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism. As a result, many people are learning and practicing what they think is yoga but not really yoga from all these ‘certified yoga teachers’ and they think that is how yoga practice should be done ‘correctly’ as taught by these ‘yoga teachers’.

When these people participated in a ‘yoga retreat’ or ‘yoga course’ that is about yoga and they have the opportunity to come in contact with the yoga practice of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation, about the elimination of ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, of purifying and quieting the restless impure mind for meditation, that is different from the ‘modified yoga asana classes’ that they have been learning from their ‘yoga teachers’ for many years which is nothing to do with the elimination of ignorance and egoism to purify and quiet the mind for meditation, but these ‘yoga classes’ actually empowering the ignorance and egoism through the gratification of the desire of craving and aversion by pampering their body and mind in the enjoyments of the senses, some of them might develop certain degrees of understanding and would appreciate and glad to be learning and practicing yoga as it is, while some might feel greatly disturbed or disappointed and reluctant to continue learning and practicing yoga that is about yoga, and they want to quit the yoga retreat/course because they don’t like the yoga practice that is about yoga, as they refuse to make adjustment to adapt and accommodate to learn the different style of yoga practice being practiced differently from their usual way of practice. Some of them even ask for refund. And when they don’t get the refund as that would be supporting and empowering ignorance which is not yoga practice, they’ll get so angry and would do things with the intention to hurt the yoga teachers or retreat centres. This shows that they never learn what is yoga even though after many years of practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way under a particular teacher.

Yoga practice is all about making adjustment to adapt and accommodate condition and situation that the mind doesn’t like, or doesn’t familiar with, or doesn’t feel comfortable with, to allow the mind to be opened, to be able to be peaceful and compassionate under any condition and situation, wherever they are and whatever they are experiencing, being undisturbed by names and forms that the mind doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with.

As part of the yoga practice, one needs to learn how to let go of attachment and identification towards a particular style of yoga practice that one familiar with that one has been learning and practicing under certain yoga teachers or yoga centres, and learn how to adjust one’s body and mind to adapt and accommodate towards the yoga practice that one doesn’t familiar with or never experience before. If one can only practice yoga of a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way but couldn’t practice yoga anymore when that particular style of yoga in that particular way is not available, then one is not free even though one has been practicing particular style of yoga in a particular way for many years.

Yoga teachers who teach a particular style of yoga in a particular way need to learn how to allow their yoga students to be unattached towards that particular style of yoga being practiced in that particular way. But many ‘yoga teachers’ in the world are not free from ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, pride and arrogance towards their own particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Whether aware or unaware, many yoga teachers implant the strong attachment and identification towards their particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way into their yoga students’ minds, so that the yoga students will be faithful, loyal and supportive towards them and their style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Those who teach yoga will allow all their students to be unattached towards their particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way, to be open-minded to go out there to learn from some other teachers with other types of different yoga practice and respect all types of different yoga practice even if one finds it challenging to make adjustment to adapt and accommodate the different practices that one doesn’t familiar with, and it doesn’t matter if one isn’t interested in practicing any of those different practices.

Before I left Kuala Lumpur and moved to Langkawi about 10 years ago, I told all the students to continue their practice, either by themselves or continue learning from other yoga teachers, and respect other teachers and their different ways of teaching and practice. Do not compare. They are just being different. More importantly, they might be practicing different style of yoga being practiced in a particular way, but always remember that regardless of all kinds of different style of yoga being practiced in many different ways, there’s only one yoga, the yoga of freeing the mind from ignorance and egoism, to purify and quiet the mind, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness, and be free, which is nothing to do with whether one is practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way; or one has some physical injuries that limit oneself from performing certain yoga poses; or one is severely physically ill and weak that one couldn’t perform any yoga asana poses at all; or whether the body is able to be completely comfortable while doing certain movements or holding certain poses; or what type of benefits that come from doing particular practices; or whether one knows the names of the poses or the muscles/bones/organs in any particular language; or whether one is able to perform all the yoga poses in ‘perfect alignment’; or how many years one has been performing the yoga practice under particular yoga teacher; or how many years one has been teaching yoga to other people; or whether one has attended many yoga teachers training courses and attaining how many yoga certifications, or not.

In the yoga class, it’s not about performing some yoga asana poses to make the body more healthy and illness-free, or be more strong and flexible, but it’s developing self-awareness, self-discipline, self-control and self-independence, as well as non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation, to know what is going on in the body and mind, and accepting the reality of the physical condition and the state of the mind in the present moment now as it is. It’s about do what the body can do comfortably in the present moment now without forcing the body to go beyond its limitation regardless of whether the body is injury-free, or is suffering from some injuries or sickness. One learns how to make appropriate adjustment to adapt and accommodate the yoga asana or other yoga practice based on the condition of the body and the state of the mind in the present moment now. One doesn’t need to do anything that the body cannot perform in this present moment due to injury or sickness. One can stop and take rest as long as one needs to during a particular practice or in between different practices.

Being unable to perform any yoga asana poses or any form of physical practice due to any physical limitations, or injuries, or sickness, doesn’t stop the mind from performing the formless inner practice of awareness, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation, and realize unconditional peace, and be free.

Most importantly, one is aware of everything is impermanent and selfless, regardless of whether one feels comfortable or uncomfortable during certain practices and whether one can do or couldn’t do certain movements or poses in this present moment. One learns to take full responsibility to look after the well-being of one’s body and mind without expecting somebody else, neither the teacher nor the doctor to look after the well-being of one’s body and mind. No body but oneself, knows directly and instantly what is going on in the body and the mind, not the teacher or the doctor. If there’s pain or discomforts, one do not proceed any further, or one can make some adjustment or modification. If there’s tiredness, one can take rest as long as one needs to.

If one needs to depend on a teacher or a doctor being there to be responsible to look after or supervise the well-being of one’s body and mind all the time, then one will never be able to realize what is yoga, even after many years of practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way under the supervision of a particular teacher, expecting the teacher to tell them what they should do and shouldn’t do, and constantly expecting the teacher to check on them, asking them whether they are comfortable, or not, and telling them whether they are doing it nicely, or not, and whether they are good, or not.

Just like a blind person needs to depend on a blind stick to find their way, while other people with healthy vision don’t need to depend on a blind stick to move around. By telling everyone that everyone must carry a blind stick with them in order to move around, or else, without a blind stick everyone can’t go anywhere or will injure themselves, is complete ignorance. And that is what happening in many yoga centres/schools/studios/ashrams with particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Without any particular equipment or props that they used to rely on while performing their yoga practice, these yoga students can’t practice yoga anymore, or they find it ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for not having those equipment or props while performing the yoga practice. These students will never be free from ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification and desire of craving and aversion, even after many years of following these kind of yoga teachers doing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way.

Yoga retreat is not a place for mingling or socializing or interaction, but it’s a great opportunity to practice simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society, to be by oneself moving away from worldly social interactions and activities to quiet the restless mind, to be reflecting upon the truth of names and forms, to be aware of the modifications of the mind to know thyself, besides looking after one’s daily duty and responsibility such as maintaining the tidiness and cleanliness of the accommodation/living environment/practice space and looking after one’s daily meals, while dealing with condition and situation that are not necessarily the way that we would like it to be, so that one can perform Yoga Sadhana at home observing simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society performing one’s duty and responsibility in everyday life. At one stage, Swami Sivananda walked 15 km everyday to the nearby villages for Biksha (obtaining food by alms) besides performing daily Sadhana and selfless service while living a life of renunciation.

Many ‘yoga retreats’ in the world are not about quieting the restless mind via the practice of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation, but it’s about being in an out of the world environment away from dealing with any duty and responsibility in everyday life, indulging in pleasurable enjoyments of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and visualization/imagination/anticipation/expectation, gratifying the desires of craving and aversion, promoting mingling and socializing, enjoying all kinds of conveniences of hotel facilities and services, which most worldly minds expect what ‘yoga retreat’ is about. Food is prepared and served by somebody. Cleaning up and laundry are done by somebody. Room tidiness and cleanliness is maintained by somebody. Everyone just needs to enjoy mingling and socializing with the other retreat participants, while indulging in pleasurable yoga activities, spa treatments and all kinds of hotel facilities and services during the retreat.

And this is ‘the world of yoga’ that is supposed to be about living a life of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation from worldly activities/connections/interactions/enjoyments to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but many people are unaware of the ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga retreats’ that they have been attending are not about Yoga Sadhana to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but it’s actually empowering ignorance and egoism instead.

It’s everyone’s freedom whether to practice yoga as it is, or not.

 

Yoga classes, yoga courses and yoga retreats?

Those (the minds) who are free, who are peaceful, who are free from ignorance, egoism, doubts and impurities, they don’t need to learn or practice yoga. They don’t need to attend yoga classes, or yoga courses, or yoga retreats.

Those (the minds) who are not free, who are not peaceful, who are not free from ignorance, egoism, doubts and impurities, they might want to learn and practice yoga, by attending yoga classes, or yoga courses, or yoga retreats, to learn and practice yoga under one or a few yoga practitioner(s) (teachers) who know the teachings and practice of yoga.

Somehow, some of those (the minds) who are not free from ignorance and egoism, who are not peaceful, who are interested in attending yoga classes, or yoga courses, or yoga retreats, are ignorant towards oneself is being over-powered by pride and arrogance. They are not really interested in ‘learning’ and ‘practicing’ yoga under the guidance of other yoga practitioners. They think they know quite a lot about the teachings and practice. They think they have been doing yoga for quite some time or a long time. They think they are quite ‘experienced’ and ‘qualified’ yoga practitioners or yoga teachers, as they have attended one or many yoga workshops, yoga courses, or yoga teachers training courses. They think they are quite ‘advanced’ on the path of yoga. They are not ‘open-minded’ to learn and practice yoga under other people’s guidance to be free from ignorance, egoism, doubts and impurities. They attached strongly onto their habitual mind behavior pattern and their way of thinking and belief and practice. They cannot be opened to investigate or experience something that is different from their thinking, belief and practice.

They want to interfere with how the people running the yoga schools, the yoga studios, or the yoga retreat centres, and what the teachers teach and how the teachers teach the classes, or courses, or retreats. They criticize the way of the people running and teaching the classes, courses, or retreats, about the format, the schedule, the accommodation, the facilities, the environment, the staff, or anything that they think it’s not the way that they like it to be, or not the way that they think or expect it should be. There are many things that they dislike and disagree with, that they cannot tolerate or accommodate. They reluctant to adjust, adapt and accommodate something that is different from their habitual comfort zone, thinking, belief and practice.

They expect/demand the people to run the yoga schools, the yoga studios, or the yoga retreat centres the way that they like it to be, and they expect/demand the teachers to teach what they like and want to practice and don’t teach what they don’t like or don’t want to practice. They expect/demand the teachers to teach the classes, the courses, the retreats the way that they like it to be. They get very annoyed and irritated when the teachers teach something that they don’t like and don’t want to learn or practice, or the people running the classes, the courses, or the retreats the way that they don’t like and don’t agree with. They expect/demand everything about the entire space of learning and practicing yoga to be the way that they like it to be, or the way that they think it should be.

These people (the minds) don’t just not really learning or practicing yoga, though they think and believe that they are very ‘serious and advanced and certified’ yoga practitioners and yoga teachers, but they also generate inconvenience, disturbance, doubt and obstacle for others who are interested to learn and practice yoga, those who ‘are aware of’ or ‘know’ their minds are not yet completely free from ignorance, egoism, doubts and impurities. The minds that are free, they won’t be affected or influenced by the ignorance and impurities of others, but most minds are not free yet, they will still be affected and influenced by the ignorance and impurities of others. But, it doesn’t mean that these minds are bad or negative. All minds are free to behave the way that they want to behave and react the way that they want to react, whether they are aware of their own behavior and reaction, or not.

And hence, when one thinks and believes that oneself is an ‘experienced’ and ‘advanced’ and ‘certified’ yoga practitioner or yoga teacher, and one wants to inform/tell other people about how experienced and advanced one is on the path of yoga, then know that one doesn’t know what is yoga, yet. Those who know yoga, they have no attachment or identification towards the experiences or levels of their practice, or be proud and arrogant about what they know or realize from their practice. They mind their own practice and they don’t need to attend yoga classes, yoga courses, or yoga retreats.

Those who are not sure or have doubts about their practice or what they think they know, and are interested in attending yoga classes, yoga courses, or yoga retreats to learn and practice yoga under the guidance of other people, must learn how to allow the mind to be opened to learn and practice yoga under another person or other people, while not by pushing away or arguing about something that the mind dislikes and disagrees with, but to investigate the truth of everything that the mind comes in contact with through direct experience.

What the mind agrees with and what the mind disagrees with, are not necessarily the truth.

One doesn’t need to like and agree with everything, even if it’s part of the teachings and practice of yoga, but remain equanimous, being undisturbed or undetermined by what the mind dislikes and disagrees with, is already what yoga practice is about.

Be free.

How yoga is being perceived as one type of physical health and fitness exercise

Some people asked us if we teach TTC (Yoga Teachers Training Course). No, we don’t.

Anyone who has realized selflessness and unconditional love and peace through self-realization, who knows the path to free the mind from suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism (attachment, identification, worldly desires, craving and aversion), not necessarily that one has to be a yoga practitioner and disregards how long one has been practicing yoga, one can share the knowledge of selflessness and unconditional love and peace with anyone, without the necessity of becoming a ‘yoga teacher’ to ‘teach yoga classes’. One doesn’t need to attend TTC to be trained to become ‘qualified yoga teacher’ to ‘teach yoga classes’ to share the realization of selflessness and unconditional love and peace with other beings. One doesn’t need ‘approval’, or ‘authorization’, or ‘qualification’, or ‘certification’, or ‘affiliation’, or ‘graduation from TTC with excellent results’ to share the knowledge of unconditional love, peace and fearlessness through self-realization with other beings who are in search for liberation from ignorance and suffering.

Attending TTC and graduating with excellent results from TTC doesn’t determine that one is, or will be free from ignorance and egoism. Teaching yoga is nothing to do with ‘professionalism’, or ‘teacher training’, or ‘certification’, which is part of the worldly ideas born out of egoism.

TTC are a platform or medium for anyone, including those who have never done any yoga practice before but who have the interest to know about yoga, to be open-minded and be humble to learn about the teachings of yoga, and begin their self-practice with self-discipline to purify the mind to free the mind from egoism and ignorance. Once the mind is purified and has realized selflessness and unconditional love and peace, one can share the knowledge of selflessness and unconditional love and peace with other beings without intention, without identification, without attachment.

Meanwhile many of the ‘professional TTC allied with yoga alliance’ are about being a platform or medium for people who think they know a lot about yoga and that they are good enough or ready to become ‘yoga teachers’, and they think they need to attend ‘internationally recognized TTC allied with yoga alliance’ to be trained ‘how to teach/conduct professional, safe, effective, creative, fun and motivative yoga asana exercise classes’ to acquire some kind of ‘internationally recognized certification allied with yoga alliance’ so that they can find a job called ‘yoga teacher/instructor’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ in yoga centre or fitness centre or community centre, and lots of these TTC exist to cater to their ‘needs’ to provide the appropriate ‘training’ and ‘certification’ that they are looking for.

These ‘professional’ TTC also teach about the teachings or philosophy of yoga but emphasize mainly on training the people about how to teach/conduct a ‘yoga asana exercise classes’, about how to give instructions, how to perform the yoga poses, what to do or what not to do, what are the benefits of the different yoga poses, the breathing exercises, the relaxation and the other practices, how to make physical adjustments, what are the ‘correct alignment’, general knowledge to share in the class (about diet, lifestyle, positive thinking, anatomy, physiology, health and fitness, stories telling, philosophy, and etc), how to interact, what is a ‘good teaching technique’, or a ‘good practice’, or a ‘good class’, how to make the students or clients happy and satisfied, how to ‘touch’ people’s heart, and etc. It is a great contradiction because during the philosophy class they teach/talk about “perform all your actions without attachment and identification, renounce the fruit of actions and allowing the fruit of actions to be there as it is” but then in the ‘yoga asana classes’ is about feeding the egoism of both the teachers and the students – empowering the identification and attachment towards the action and the result of the action. Such like, “I am a good yoga teacher who teach/conduct good yoga classes” and “I am a good yoga student/practitioner who performs the yoga poses nicely and achieves good results/improvement from the practice”

Love and peace has nothing to do with how a person look or feel while being in particular yoga poses, or what is the physical condition, ability and limitation, or what type and how much benefits coming from the yoga practice. People don’t have to put their bodies in any particular yoga poses to be kind and compassionate, or to be peaceful. The impermanent physical condition, ability and limitation doesn’t determine a being would be free from ignorance, egoism, impurities and suffering, and be compassionate and peaceful, or not.

If one truly knows what is yoga or has realized selflessness and unconditional love and peace, one doesn’t need to attend TTC to learn how to conduct ‘yoga classes’ to attain ‘certification’ to be ‘authorized’ to become ‘professional internationally certified yoga teacher’ to be teaching or passing the knowledge of yoga to other beings, or to be compassionate towards oneself and all beings.

No doubt that there are ‘TTC graduates’ who realize yoga through the practice of silence, self-inquiry, dispassion and right discrimination, and they may or may not be teaching ‘yoga classes’.

The attachment towards the performance/results/effects/benefits of the yoga practice, and the emphasis on the technical/professional teaching instructions about “the correct body alignment of each yoga pose”, or “how a yoga pose/position should look like”, and the ‘positive’ encouraging words, cheering and hand clapping to congratulate or give encouragement, such like ‘Well done!’, ‘You can do it!’, ‘You did it!’, ‘That’s very good!’, ‘You’re amazing!’, ‘Awesome!’, ‘Feel strong!’, ‘Be strong!’, ‘Let’s boost your confidence and self-esteem!’, ‘Yoga strengthens your body and mind’, ‘Yoga elevates your mind!’, ‘Yoga makes you feel great!’, ‘You should be proud of yourself!’, ‘I am so proud of you!’, and etc, as the core structure or important qualities of the ‘yoga exercise classes’ are indeed feeding the egoism (attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation).

But there is nothing wrong with all these TTC producing ‘internationally certified yoga teachers’ teaching ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ because most people who want to attend yoga classes are only interested in doing something that will make them feel good and look good, or give them the benefits/effects/results that they want. Being conditioned by worldly ideas, people evaluate a ‘yoga teacher’ based on their ‘qualification’ and ‘certification’, their ‘professionalism’, their ‘ability’ to give a ‘good yoga exercise class’ that can make them look good and feel good physically and mentally, or their up-to-date tips/general knowledge on the latest styles and techniques and about health and fitness. Many people are not interested in the practice of silence, quieting the mind, self-inquiry, dispassion and self-discipline to be free from ignorance and egoism, mainly it’s because people don’t think their minds are influenced by ignorance, they don’t think they need to free the mind from egoism, as they love their ego of who they think they are. They don’t see what’s wrong with egoism. They enjoy being passionate about worldly life and social activities, and spend most of their effort on gratifying all their desires, and do what will make them feel good and happy as the meanings of life.

All these TTC graduates are ‘good people’ who have ‘good intention’ and hope to ‘be qualified’ to share yoga with other people, and it makes them feel meaningful and happy when their students look good and feel good about themselves after taking yoga exercise class with them. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that.

It’s like many children don’t like to eat healthy food, the parents or care-taker might give them something that they like in return, such like desserts, to persuade them to eat the healthy food that they don’t like to eat. And the parents feel happy seeing their children eating the healthy food and enjoying the desserts afterwards. So everyone is happy. That sounds very ‘good’. Eventually, some of the children might start to realize why it is important to eat the healthy food, and even without any desserts in return, they will eat the healthy food out of their own choice. But very few children will have the self-realization, and in the end, they are addicted to the desserts, and they won’t be happy unless they have their desserts. Just like people won’t do something that is good for them or other people unless they will get something that they like and want in return. This is not yoga.

Imagine when a great ‘yogi’ who has attained self-realization and is compassionate comes to the yoga centre and offer himself to share the knowledge of yoga to whoever are interested in learning and practice yoga, and the yoga centre staff ask him, “Do you have internationally recognized either 200 hours or 500 hours yoga teacher certification allied with yoga alliance?” The yogi tells them, “No.” And they tell him, “Sorry, we only employ ‘qualified’ professional yoga teacher with internationally recognized yoga teacher certification allied with yoga alliance to conduct yoga classes here.”

Everyone has the freedom to choose what they want to do with their life, their bodies and minds. If people are contented with living a restless passionate worldly life full of attachments and identifications, and are okay with being the slave of their desires of cravings and aversions, and enjoying doing some yoga exercise regularly that will make them look good and feel good, that’s their freedom.

Be free.

Yoga teachers, teaching yoga, and make a living…

Some yoga teachers are disturbed by doubt and guilt about whether it is alright for them to be able to make a living from teaching yoga by giving yoga classes or courses, as some ‘good’ people who are directly or indirectly involve in the world of yoga insist that there should be no fees charged, or there should be very minimal fees charged for giving yoga classes, as teaching yoga should be a selfless service or charity work, and most important is that part of the yoga practice is about perform selfless actions, and not expect anything in return. Even if there are fees charged (small or big amount), then all the profits from running yoga classes and courses should be given away for charity cause. They ‘expect’ yoga teachers should live on charity and begging, or they should have some other forms of livelihood or income (but not from teaching yoga by giving yoga classes) to support their life and living expenses. Or else it is wrong, or it’s a great sin, or bad karma to make a living from teaching yoga.

Not to say, there are many ‘yoga’ enthusiasts (who come from different backgrounds with different social or financial status) who are interested to take up yoga classes or yoga courses who actually think and believe that all yoga classes and yoga courses should be free, and they are reluctant to pay some fees, or only want to pay a little amount of fees that they think is sufficient to cover the cost for the yoga classes or courses, and they think yoga teachers should not make any profits or make a living from running yoga classes or courses. And they think and believe that all yoga teachers should be the role models for others to live a simple life with limited livelihood. And so, they believe yoga teachers don’t really need much money to live life, nor have any living expenses. And hence, they think yoga teachers don’t need to take any fees from teaching yoga.

There’s nothing wrong with those thinking and beliefs, coming from these people’s particular worldly point of view. Everyone is free to express what they think and believe, to criticize and to condemn other people whom they dislike and disagree with. But those who truly know what is yoga, they are aware of all the different points of views, but they will not criticize nor condemn anyone. If it is the truth, there’s nothing to be criticized about. If it is not the truth, it’s pointless to criticize someone who is being ignorant of ignorance in oneself.

Here are a few points to let anyone who directly or indirectly relates to this matter to reflect upon this matter and measure it by themselves.

Before we get into these information given below, take note that yoga practice is not limited in a yoga class or yoga course in a particular name and form, or at a particular time and space. Yoga and the practice of yoga is unlimited by names and forms, time and space. It exists everywhere and anytime. Everything and everyone can be teaching us yoga to realize the truth, it’s not necessarily has to be a human being who is graduated from yoga teachers training course and bears the title of ‘yoga teacher’, and is ‘certified’ and ‘qualified’ to teach yoga to others.

1.) Most people who identify themselves as ‘yoga teachers’ in the world nowadays are not really teaching yoga, but they are fitness instructors who teach yoga asana exercise classes under many different styles, names and forms. And so, they are not limited by the above ‘observations’ at all. They can charge fees as high as they like, depending on their cost for conducting classes and their ‘qualifications’, ‘teaching experience’, ‘competency’, ‘unique teaching skills and flair’, ‘creativity’, and of course, ‘popularity’ and ‘demand’. It’s a legal and healthy livelihood. It’s a very meaningful job that can enhance ones physical and mental health and fitness, as well as to encourage many others to have a healthier and active lifestyle by igniting great enthusiasm in these people to do some yoga asana exercises regularly.

They deserve to make enough money to pay back their cost to acquire the knowledge of the yoga asana exercises and learning the teaching skill and technique, and to attain various certificates and qualifications recognized by such and such international yoga affiliations to qualified them to teach yoga asana exercise classes to the public by continuously attending ‘yoga courses’ and ‘yoga workshops’ regularly to maintain and upgrade their professionalism in teaching yoga asana exercise classes, to ensure safe and effective yoga asana exercises, as well as fun and enjoyable innovative yoga asana exercise classes to be delivered to their students or clients. They are constantly being judged and evaluated by the clients as well as the employer, and they are either unwillingly or willingly being in competition with the other yoga fitness instructors.

On top of that they need to be able to make enough income to support their everyday life expenses on food, living space, transportation, holidays, entertainments, social activities, continuing education and learning, and for some people, they might even need to support their family, or helping out relatives and friends financially. And they also need to have some extra money to allow them to perform charity, or to be able to participate in some forms of volunteering works to contribute to the society once in a while.

There’s nothing wrong, or sinful, or bad karma in this at all.

No one can criticize or condemn them for anything as they are not teaching yoga.

2.) Yoga, the teachings of yoga, the yoga practice and Dharma are not for sale. It is not a trading object that can be exchanged or trade in for something else. It is not possible to make ‘yoga’ into a worldly business and make profit out of it. No one owns yoga, nor has authority over yoga, but it exists in all and everyone waiting to be realized. ‘Yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ are something different. They can be made into a business to make some profits out of it, whether we think it’s okay, or it’s not okay. And those who really teach yoga don’t identify themselves with any names and forms. Neither they will call themselves ‘yoga teachers’. There are no yoga teachers. They are just instruments for performing the actions of transmitting the teachings of yoga to others.

3.) What’s the difference between fees and donations? It doesn’t matter they are in the form of money or in some other exchangeable forms, it is something that we show gratitude to somebody who gives us, or shares with us something that is invaluable which cannot be bought with money, whether the receivers are selfless and don’t expect anything in return, or they are not selfless and they expect something in return. Why is it if it’s ‘fees’, it is ‘not okay’, but if it’s ‘donations’, it is ‘okay’? Is it that if we think yoga teachers are supposed to be selfless beings, that they should be performing selfless service, and they shouldn’t expect or receive anything in return, and that allows us to take them for granted?

4.) Many of those who think and believe that yoga teachers should live in poverty and live on charity or begging, are not necessarily that they can’t afford to pay the fees or donations, but they are being stingy and just want to have ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ yoga exercise classes. So that they can keep their money for other expenses to support their social activities and life enjoyments. They think the yoga teacher doesn’t deserve more than what they think they want to ‘pay’. What are these people with such mentality learning and practicing when they claim themselves as yoga enthusiasts who love yoga (or yoga exercises more precisely) very much and want to learn yoga under a teacher, but they don’t respect the teacher or know how to appreciate the invaluable yoga teachings and practice at all?

Humility and respect oneself and others are the basis of yoga practice. We need to learn how to be free from arrogance, defensiveness and offensiveness, to respect all without discrimination of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on what our minds believe how things should be like, not to say to show humility and respect towards someone who teaches and guides us about the teachings and practice of yoga.

Those who are truly humble and sincere to learn yoga from a teacher will naturally want to contribute and support the living of the teacher. Even when the teacher doesn’t expect or doesn’t want to be respected or served by the students, they will respect and serve the teacher out of their own free will. The students will be performing selfless service to serve the teacher even after they have contribute something or support the living of the teacher. Nowadays, many people who say they want to learn yoga, they don’t know anything about this precious value of yoga – to eliminate egoism. The students complain and criticize about their teachers when they are not getting what they want, or are being dissatisfied about something that they don’t like or disagree with. They are not learning or practicing yoga at all. They expect the teacher to be in certain ways with certain professional image and behavior. They expect the teacher to give them something in return that they like and want, which they think it should worth the similar value of money that they have given to the teacher. They want the teacher to serve them or treat them with some sorts of customer service and gratifying their desires of craving and aversion, as they have given some fees or donations to the teacher.

5.) People who pay some fees for yoga classes or courses, may drop out half way of the course when it becomes quite challenging physically and mentally, or when they didn’t get what they expect to be getting from the yoga classes, even if they know that their money will be ‘wasted’. Not to say those who pay no fees or very little fees for yoga classes or courses, may easily drop out half way of the course when it becomes quite challenging physically and mentally, or when they didn’t get what they expect to be getting from the yoga classes, as they know they won’t be ‘wasting’ much money.

6.) When ‘real’ yoga teachers who teach yoga by giving yoga classes or courses at a specific time and place to allow people to come together to learn and practice yoga, they don’t sell us yoga or Dharma, or the realization of the truth, or liberation, or peace and compassion. They can’t. Even if they want to ‘sell’ us yoga or Dharma, or the realization of the truth, or liberation, or peace and compassion, we can’t ‘buy’ it and ‘have’ it, no matter how much money we have.

7.) The fees or donations (whether it is a fixed amount or ‘donate as you wish’) that the yoga teachers receive from those who participate (or not participate) in their classes or courses, are for the time, effort and costs to make the classes or courses available, to show their gratitude and support to the teachers and to Dharma by paying some fees or donate some donations to allow some other people to be able to come together at a particular time and place, to learn and practice yoga or Dharma. And everyone has to work very hard individually to attain their own realization and salvation, it doesn’t matter the amount of fees or donations is big or small.

It doesn’t mean that if the amount of fees or donations is big, they’ll get faster and more efficient results and greater achievements, and if the amount of fees or donations is smaller, they’ll get slower and less efficient results and smaller achievements. Or vice versa. And above all, yoga is not about the results or achievements, and it’s nothing to do with fees or donations.

8.) The fees or donations that we pay or donate to ‘real’ yoga teachers who teach yoga, not just some yoga asana exercise fitness classes, is also a form of charity act come from us to allow these yoga teachers (who allow the yoga classes to be available to us, and to share the great knowledge of yoga of how to be free from ignorance and suffering, to realize unconditional love and peace, it’s not just about doing some fitness exercise routines) to support their lives, and for them to have the time and space to perform their personal practice to attain higher realization, apart from giving their time to teach classes to others. They also need to have some sorts of livelihood to support themselves, their lives and all other necessary expenses to perform their duties and responsibilities towards themselves and towards those who depend on them in lives financially, physically or mentally.

9.) Why should yoga teachers (or more precisely, experienced yoga practitioners who teach yoga to others) live in poverty, be homeless, or to survive under poor and insufficient conditions, solely depend on begging or receiving ‘charity’ from other people, to prove that they practice ‘detachment’, or ‘non-attachment’, or ‘non-possessiveness’, or they are ‘super human beings’? What is the real meaning and practice of detachment, non-attachment and non-possessiveness? What does yoga or yoga practitioners has anything to do with ‘super human beings’? Even enlightened beings will also witness or go through the law of impermanence through the existence of the physical body and mind. Their bodies will decay, experiences changes, old age, illness, pain, discomforts, and eventually decomposition or death. There are constant thoughts arising and passing away in their mind. But they are not associated with, or be determined or disturbed by the ceaseless changes of names and forms.

10.) Should the yoga teachers who teach yoga be limited by the above ‘observations’, and be criticized and condemned by ‘certain people’ who think they know about yoga more than other people, and they think they have the authority on yoga and all that is related to yoga, to give them the superiority to condemn the yoga teachers who teach yoga, who are able to make a living and be financially independent from giving yoga classes or courses, and don’t need to spend the rest of their time and energy in a worldly job for livelihood, or don’t need to depend on charity or begging from others? Isn’t that a great thing for people (including those who teach yoga to others) to have a better quality of life with the right livelihood that will benefits oneself and others? While in another point of view, the yoga students are being given the opportunity to perform charity by supporting the livelihood of the yoga teachers by giving some fees or donations to the teachers.

11.) Why should ‘real’ yoga teachers who know what is yoga be bothered or determined by the criticism and condemn by these people? Those who have realized yoga, they have gone beyond egoism and worldly image, ideas and values.

12.) Even when ‘real’ yoga teachers give yoga classes or courses to teach yoga to others, whether with or without fees, it also cannot guarantee that all the students or clients will be satisfied, or will appreciate, or will be benefited from their teaching.

13.) Of course, there are also some ‘yoga teachers’ who do not really interested to teach yoga to others, nor do they care for the well-beings of anyone but themselves, as their main motive or objective to give ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ is solely about getting some profits, to attain name and fame. But there’s also nothing to be criticized about, as some people maybe enjoying their classes very much and are benefited from attending their classes, even though they don’t have intention to benefit anyone at all. And these people see them as their greatest ‘Gurus’ and they are willingly to ‘donate’ part of or all their money to their ‘Gurus’.

14.) ‘Real’ yogis who know yoga, are not obliged to teach yoga to anyone. They don’t have to give yoga classes or courses to anyone even if there are ‘high profits’ in return, or even if we beg them to teach us. And if they do teach us yoga whether by giving yoga classes or courses, or not, and there’s profit in return, it doesn’t mean that they are not ‘real’ yogis, or they are ‘bad’ yogis. Some ‘spiritual’ people think and believe that ‘money is evil’, and so, yogis can only take food from begging and should not touch money, or receive money from anyone, or else they become evil.

Money is like everything else, it is neither evil nor good. Whether touching money, or not, it doesn’t make one a yogi or not, be free from ignorance, or not. Money is just pieces of commercial papers for the convenience of the worldly society to exchange goods and services while living in this materialistic commercial world. It depends on the purity of mind whether the money will be used wisely, or not. Don’t have any money or not using money also cannot guarantee that one is free from ignorance, egoism, greed and attachment. Having money or using money doesn’t determine that one is not free from ignorance, egoism, greed and attachment.

15.) Does by not taking any fees, or taking less money, or charging lower fees than other people, will make us better yogis or yoga teachers than the others who take some fees, or take more money, or charge higher fees?

16.) Who are we to judge or to condemn anyone, including judging and condemn ourselves, anyway?

17.) Why is it those who don’t really teach yoga cannot be condemned for not teaching yoga the way that we think it should be, as they are not teaching yoga at all, but those who truly teach yoga could be condemned for teaching yoga not the way that we think it should be? It doesn’t make sense in yoga. Though it totally makes sense for the ignorant and worldly minded ones

18.) How does selflessness and selfless service be determined by getting something in return, or not? It’s about not attach to the actions and the fruit of actions. Undisturbed and undetermined by the fruit of actions to be peaceful, happy, confident, or meaningful, or not. Who says anything about not having anything in return? There will be something in return naturally whenever there are actions being performed, but it’s not necessarily the way that we think it should be or how we like it to be, and there’s no identification or attachment towards the actions or the fruit of actions to be who ‘I’ am. There is no ‘I’ existing to be the doer of actions. There is no ‘I’ existing to be the enjoyer of the fruit of actions, or to be receiving the fruit of actions. It doesn’t mean that after actions are being performed there is no fruit of actions in return. All actions including inactions, will bear the fruit of actions.

19.) Some might think that those who are using the information/teachings from the Scriptures to teach yoga to others, or those who have realized unconditional love and peace through their own self-realization and share the knowledge with others, or those who are using the yoga asana exercises to teach fitness exercise classes, and make a living out of it, is like ‘stealing’ something from ‘God’ and sell it to make profits.

Well, just like some scientists knew how to harvest the sunlight, the wind, the water to make use of them for mostly good reasons and generate electricity from them, and some people make some profits out of that, some people also get some livelihood out of it, while many people are benefited from it for the convenience coming from the availability of electricity in our modern lives.

Does that mean everyone who involve with harvesting the elements of fire, wind and water to generate electricity, working in the fields, and all the consumers of electricity are robbers and sinful?

While there might be people who think that since the resource is coming from ‘God’ or nature, it should be free, no one should make any profits from it, we shouldn’t pay anything for using the electricity?

‘God’ must be very proud of these Scientists to have such invention to utilize the resources from ‘God’ and turn them into something great and beneficial for all and everyone, as well as some people can make a living out of utilizing these resources.

Some people insist not to use the electricity for some ethical reasons, and that is their own choice.

20.) Some people labelled the yoga in yoga classes being taught without fees as ‘non-commercial’, and the yoga being taught in yoga classes with fees as ‘commercial’. Does that mean the teachings of yoga being taught in both commercial and non-commercial yoga classes will be different, although there might be different intentions behind it? There’s no guarantee that there won’t be any impure intention in the non-commercial yoga classes, nor there must be impure intention in the commercial yoga classes. Non-commercial yoga classes doesn’t guarantee all the yoga students will be free from ignorance and egoism. And it doesn’t mean that all the students in the commercial yoga classes will not be free from ignorance and egoism. If yoga being taught in the commercial yoga classes can bring certain awareness to the society, and more people are becoming more aware of their minds, and learn how to be kind to themselves and to others, what’s so wrong with the commercial yoga classes then? Unless there are corruptions exist in the yoga classes among the teachers and the students, it doesn’t matter if it is non-commercial or commercial yoga classes, then there’s something is going against the teachings of yoga.

Now, it’s up to us, whether to add something else onto these information, or to take away some of these information that we think are irrelevant, to figure out the truth through our own self-inquiry.

Om shanti.