Metallurgy is a process whereby metal is treated in various ways, often with heat, to remove impurities and alter the physical properties of the metal itself, making it stronger or less susceptible to stress and corrosion, etc.
Like most longterm thought movements, yoga has never been static. Yoga has been redrawn countless times over the centuries to suit the needs of the moment. Practitioners alter rituals in small or large ways to suit individual needs. The needs and focus of a culture can change substantially over time much in the same way that the needs of an individual practitioner may change over the course of their life. The experience we seek to have through ritual at 25 might be markedly different from the one we seek to have at 65. Should the ritual, in this case yoga, be invalidated because it has changed to suit the needs of the end user? Some would argue yes and some no. All I can say with certainty is that rituals will change, they do not remain fixed or static and some of the most potent rituals have been the most transmutable. Life is change, why would ritual be any different?
Yogis, teachers and students alike, can be a very fickle and judgmental group. We become easily distracted by the idea that one teacher or practice style is better than another. We substitute the hard work of self-reflection for the self-serving belief that we have found the secret elixir in a person or a studio or even in a practice. Of course there is no secret elixir, nothing can replace hard work in reshaping how we experience and frame our world. I believe WE are the architects of our own personal sense of wellbeing, health and success. Secret elixirs, all knowing teachers and magical thinking are great plot devices for movies but they don't have a place in my world view. The power for positive change lies within the practitioner and has been there all along, much in the same way that the strength or pliability of metal was there from the start. The metallurgist understands how to inspire transformation within the metal but ultimately it is the metal that must undergo the transmutation. Teachers and their methods are important tools on our road of transformation but they are not responsible for the change itself...We are. To paraphrase Gandhi, we are the change we seek. Finding the best teacher or the right practice is a lifelong endeavor that may change as you face new challenges and opportunities. The idea that there is only one method for transformation is a distraction that serves only to limit our ability to mature into ever greater awareness.
John Merideth - Summer 2012