With an experience of more than sixty years in the practice and study of yoga, Ramiro Calle synthesizes the different traditions of yoga to invite us to recover the deepest spiritual teachings of India. From Patañjali or the Samkhya philosophy, through the tantric or shivaist yogas, such as hatha, kundalini or mantra-yoga to the dubious sports techniques that, according to alert, are sold today as “yoga” in some centers or gyms, this pioneer in the teaching of yoga in Spain invites reflection to separate “the wheat from the chaff” when we talk about this method of improvement and self-knowledge.
What is yoga “not”, even though we think it is?
I would answer with another question: “Why do they call what is not yoga yoga and many times what is yoga not called yoga?”
Yoga is not sport, it is not exotic gymnastics, it is not calisthenics, it is not a cult, it is not a religion, it is not a dogma. It is something very different, but unfortunately as many millions of euros and dollars move in the world of yoga, that has caused that every day there are more charlatans and more tricksters who are prostituting yoga. But this is not new because since 1930 it has been commercializing.
The most curious thing about this and the most paradoxical is that it was the first Hindu mentors who came to America who began to prostitute yoga. I always say that the so-called “yoga ministry” that they say there is in India had to apologize because the first traitors to the true spirit of yoga were curiously the Hindu mentors who commercialized it and presented a kind of pseudo-yoga or totally degenerate yoga for simply get profit. But that is not yoga at all.
There are wrong beliefs around this practice, what would be the most worrying?
I have made a difference between yoga and yogism. I call yoga to true yoga, which is a method of evolution, of self-realization, of putting all the means for a person to humanize and fulfill himself. And I call this cult of the body yogism, that boasting that leads to trying to show who is the most flexible and who does the best posture that has actually become circus acrobatics and posture. It can be the posture of many actresses who do not know anything about yoga or the posture of pseudo-yoga practitioners.
The most dangerous thing is that the true essence of yoga is betrayed. I put the example of jewelry and costume jewelery to distinguish them. It is very good that there is costume jewelry, but what we cannot say is that costume jewelry is jewelry and what we cannot say is that the game of checkers is the game of chess because they are two totally different things.
On the other hand, these aggressive, gymnastic and circus yogas produce a huge amount of injuries.
In addition, a pseudo mystical yoga has also emerged based on goodness, on pseudo-religious hypocrisy that is also dangerous.
Therefore I believe that we must look for the essence and roots of true yoga and this is what I have tried to do after 60 years in the world of yoga with this book “The Miracle of Yoga”
Why are there preconceptions about what yoga is and what it is not and why do we think we are not able to connect with ourselves?
Yes, about yoga there is a preconceived idea and, above all, superstitious because in India the guru has been given a different role than we use in the West. There is another concept. Many times blind and abject obeisance is rendered to the guru. And what the Westerner has to do is learn to discriminate and discern because if not, it gives rise to another sad phenomenon which is what I call “the farce of the gurus.” I am referring to these mass gurus behind whom there is enormous marketing and a whole paraphernalia has been orchestrated behind, but it is all verbiage because they know nothing or contribute anything, unlike the honest and serious teacher whose duty is to base the techniques and methods in teaching. For this reason, as I have told in my novel «El fakir», I am an apprentice and the duty of every apprentice is to continue learning and never get into that majestic position that says «I know, you don’t know», «I start you» … because all that is again part of all that paraphernalia of the pseudo-yogas that has nothing to do with yoga.
Yoga is moved by experiences and never by beliefs. That is why I say that it is not a religion, but that it is spiritual in that it tries to raise our threshold of consciousness. But he is not religious in that he does not observe any cult or dogma.
It is important that we clean yoga of these pseudo-religious dogmas that instead of magnifying it, it is many times falsifying it. That is why yoga is not Hindu, it is not Buddhist, it is not Christian … Yoga is yoga.
What are the signs that we are not learning yoga with a good professional?
The first thing we have to do is inform ourselves, we must not close our eyes and get into a pseudo mystical or pseudo religious or pseudo yogic current. The human being has a precious mental function that is to discern. You have to read good yoga books, you have to find out, and you have to find out who the teacher is, just like we do when we go to the doctor, for example.
Yoga companies, all yoga monopolies want to monopolize the practice of yoga and they are moving a lot of money, constantly training teachers (200 hours, 100 hours, 400 hours). This is the case, for example, of an American company that is spreading throughout the world. But that does terrible damage because it “manufactures” yoga teachers.
Therefore, discernment, information, learn a little what true yoga is and distrust and flee as if it were the plague of all yoga organizations that call themselves “non-profit” and that also do not pay their teachers but charge to the students. And this is really embarrassing. In short, have a little vision of this issue to have a judgment on this issue as clear as possible.
It is also important to know why we want to practice yoga, because if I only want it to have a tight butt, to sweat and to be the most elastic in the cemetery … if I only want it for that, any sport is better. But it is also that it is not something that is at odds with the practice of other sports because you can do serious yoga and make it compatible with sport. But what you cannot do is take yoga as an aggressive sport because that is not yoga, that is what the first false gurus have sold and that is what has remained.
We are in a hyper-connected world and social networks move everything, how can we approach the knowledge of the real practice of yoga in this context?
If a person does not know what yoga is, but feels that inner call that he wants to perfect himself, improve himself, complete himself or balance and harmonize himself, he will have to start inquiring and the fact of beginning to inquire is already beginning with yoga.
Also keep in mind that there are numerous traditional yoga modalities. Physical or psychophysical yoga, mental yoga, emotional yoga, spiritual yoga, yoga of action, yoga of energies … Yoga is such a vast field that we have to indicate how to learn any artistic discipline or cultural we have to study, inquire and select. And we have to know what is convenient for us and allows us to go deeper and not stay on the surface, because otherwise we will incur in yogism, which is the cult of the ego and the body.
What are the main obstacles that we can find in the practice of yoga? In his book “The Miracle of Yoga” he cites issues such as laziness, laziness, inertia or indolence …
In yoga, conscious effort, well-directed will and, above all, motivation are highly valued. Motivation is important. Let’s see. If you are in a concentration camp your motivation would be to get out of there. Well, in reality we are in a concentration camp, which is ourselves, with our negative emotions, with our affective moods, our ignorance, our attachments and greed, our hatred and … to gradually dismantle all that we need motivation and will, and above all, that desire to improve myself, evolve … What can always distinguish us from the animal world is to evolve, improve, to achieve another level of understanding and consciousness.
I know of nothing so powerful to overcome laziness and apathy as well-directed effort.
People who practice yoga seek in some cases to obtain physical, energetic, mental or spiritual results .. But, where are yogis who are totally involved in the practice heading?
It is perfectly compatible with being a yogi in everyday life. I always declare myself as an urban yogi, because I am in the city and I combine my home life with teaching and my inner search. What we need is to have a firm purpose and undoubtedly have the will and know where we are walking and where we are going. But nobody wants to tell us that because if we trust a guru to say it, we are lost because we become copyists or imitators of the gurus. Each one has to be himself, but in yoga we value a lot, on the one hand the teachings and, on the other, the methods. Because yoga is a practical philosophy, a practical psychology of life, and it is an attitude. And yoga is so unapproachable and inordinate that, even though I have been practicing for sixty years, I always say that I am still a learner. That is why it is embarrassing for someone to say that they master yoga in three days.
Now it seems that there are almost more yoga teachers than students. And this also leads to teachers being very mistreated because they are being paid ridiculous amounts, they are not insured and what happens is tremendous. There is actually a very dark side to the world of yoga trafficking. It is necessary for each one to consolidate with their knowledge and practices.
What should a yoga teacher be like?
The yoga teacher has to be humble, he has to be empathetic and he has to know that he depends on the disciples as the disciples depend on him. But there is a syndrome that my wife Luisa, also a yoga teacher for 25 years, always denounces that it is the so-called «stage syndrome» which implies that as soon as a person goes up to teach on a stage he thinks he is superior and then Instead of overcoming or controlling your ego (which is really yoga), your ego is out of proportion. And on the other hand, as the oriental scholar Agustín Paniker said, since more money is moving now than ever, that is why more and more upstarts and more and more charlatans have emerged.
Is yoga a way of life? Can yoga be practiced in more moments than we think?
It is important to show that yoga is a life technique, it is a way of living and it is a way of being. It is a vital attitude. You have to take yoga and its fruits to daily life, to the market, to the office, to leisure, to work, alone, in company … because yoga is a way of living from equanimity, inner contentment, compassion, attention, effort well directed, deep calm and try to transmit that calm to others.