Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca
The aim of Yoga is spiritual liberation, and things like physical health, emotional stability, etc, are by-products. So, in a way, anyone can use yoga in any way they want. ...
Great way to put it! Although I would rephrase it a bit so it looses the connotation that the physical health and the emotional stability etc are merely random by-products. They are not the main point but serve as a good basis for the spiritual development. It can be difficult to work on spiritual growth when the body is not healthy, and it is almost impossible when suffering from emotional instability.
Originally Posted by caronis
It is very frustrating because Yoga suffers from its mystique. It's been around for thousands of years, yet it is so poorly researched and truly understood.
Also a great way to put it, although I would rephrase this also. I don't think that Yoga is suffering from the lack of understanding but we do.
That is I believe our dilemma as 'Westerners': we know everything on an outer, physical level but our knowledge, experience and insight in spirituality is very limited, if not to say equals Zero. Kind of baby like. This is even more surprising when you consider that spirituality has to do with our mind, and our mind is always with us. But still we don't have a clue about it. At the most we think that our mind is our thoughts and emotions, although it doesn't take too much analysis to find out that this cannot be the case.
I don't know much about Yoga, just started it a while ago, and also agree with Luisa that the 'success' with it highly depends on the quality of the teacher - at least I understood her in this way. I find it quite amusing that there are people who offer 'improved' versions of Yoga. I don't think that any of us has the insight, knowledge and wisdom to improve Yoga, but some of us surely have the ability to improve physical exercises to better fit them for a specific purpose. But at that point it is not Yoga anymore.
I don't see any spirituality in swimming. Swimming means moving your body in the water in such a way that you don't drown but move forward. That's it.
Yes, you can approach it in a very mindful way, and any activity where we are not distracted and are aware what we are doing is a spiritual practice, indeed. This approach we could apply to virtually anything, driving our car, cleaning the house, etc.
Nevertheless, swimming here has a big advantage: since it puts us in a potentially dangerous situation in the water, we need a certain amount of awareness to start with. When we want to improve, we need all our attention and focus to keep all those various body parts moving in the way we want. So in a way swimming is ideal to practice awareness and mindfulness, and if that is the only 'spiritual practice' we engage in it still is far better then doing none. And then we might find ourselves in a 'flow state'.
I googled 'flow state' a while ago and found explanations from this Hungarian psychologist who's name you can only pronounce when you forget how it is written. It find it interesting that the description of a flow state deals to a large extend with it's outer circumstances and how it comes about, but there is no description of the real interesting part: what exactly happens in the mind in a flow state?
From a spiritual point of view flow states are by-products, like Luisa said about the physical health in Yoga. In both cases focusing on the by-product means missing the point.
Anyway, just my personal opinion, so everybody is free to have another one, of course ;-)
hang on in there and keep swimming mindfully ...