Yoga is deeply embedded within many ancient Hindu texts and has had a special place in Indian culture for several millennia. This venerated past holds much of interest and value to the yoga student but as I studied Eastern philosophies more deeply during my teacher training I was struck that these ancient teachings were presumed to be the future of yoga as well as its past.
But the passage of thousands of years, the problems of inconsistent translations and the huge cultural differences between east and west – especially in ancient times – all mean that it can be difficult to engage with the teachings in an intelligent and dynamic way. It can sometimes feel that there is little room for contemporary dialogue, let alone disagreement with traditional ideas or beliefs. I also feel that it would be positively wilful to ignore the great modern advances in the study of anatomy and physiology and the incredible new directions in neuroscience in favour of a blind reverential adherence to perceived traditions.
I see yoga as a method of self-enquiry, a quest for greater self-acceptance and that elusive quality…wellbeing. Surely these aims must be based on personal freedom and the willingness and ability to engage with others with curiosity and compassion. So, for me, a humanist approach to yoga would presuppose no deity, recognise no guru or approved “system’ and should engage gladly with any relevant material - past or present.
In recent years I have been practicing and teaching yoga this way, basing my work on sound biomechanical principles.
Diane Farrell is a yoga teacher accredited by the British Wheel of Yoga and the Association of Independent Yoga Practitioners and she trained for two years with Chloe Fremantle in London. She has been practicing yoga for more than thirteen years and has experience of a variety of approaches from Iyengar, Hatha and Scaravelli-inspired styles. She continues to develop her own approach to yoga with her teacher Peter Blackaby. In recent years she has become more focused on the use of yoga as a tool to explore the human condition, with all of its inherent ups and downs.
Diane runs regular classes, workshops and one-to-one sessions in Brighton. Follow the links at the top left of this page for dates and more information.
“Fear of Freedom” Eric Fromm