Talking about the alternative healing system, I think we have to be very careful. Sometimes in Western countries, we see that everything is mixed. In the field of alternative systems, a lot of Viveka or discernment is needed.
What has happened to some of these alternative systems of therapy, including Yoga, is that things have become a bit shallow. It happens that in one week someone can become an expert in massage. With the help of postal courses you become an Āyurveda expert. The intentions are good, some people may want to learn fast, but what happens is that this state of things brings disrepute to some of the great ancient traditions like Āyurveda. It has taken me three years to convince an Indian to go to an Āyurveda doctor. This is because of the bad reputation the tradition now has.
There are people who use the same massage for everybody and they also use the same oil for everybody. And they give the same number of courses also. Actually one should know the whole constitution of the individual so that one can decide what type of massage is required, at what time of the day, what kind of oil or mixture of oils, whether the oil should be cold or hot, maybe mixed with herbs, if so which herbs.
Or take Homeopathy, such an exact science, but here in India everybody can become a homeopath. You read some books and then pass an exam. It is as easy as that.
A text like the Yoga Sūtra is something so very special, it becomes a life-companion. It is so deep, if taken seriously, but it can also be very shallow if the depth of the study is not there and if there is no application.
Why should Claude come to Madras? There is no need for him to come to Madras. Is it not illogical for him to come? What makes him come again and again? It is this need to reach some depth.
Recently, somebody asked me: ‘What is there to study with your father for 28 years?’ I am so disappointed that I didn’t start before, I feel so sorry that I didn’t spend more time with him when he was alive. I told this person that I had learnt something like 380 postures in six months, my daughter could do the same thing in three months, but this was when I did not know Yoga. It has taken me years to know how to behave with somebody, and that is probably more Yoga. My concern now is how I can behave with people. It took such little time to twist the body into Pūrna Matsyendrāsana. But what of it? I was so lean, and I was working hard. But now it is so painful if I make a mistake with somebody. This is the hard part, this is the Yoga part.
– Extract from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.