I have visited Mother India twice, and each time I felt immersed in an ancient culture, with deep spiritual practices intact, including physical yoga = Asana practice. I spent time in Rural India, at a small Ashram where we studied the Yoga Sutras, Vedic teachings, with a focus on Fire rituals (a completely separate post!) but as I set up for Asana practice every morning, on the Ghat, it became obvious that I was a westerner! I believe the first tip-off.. was the fact that I was "setting-up"
using a mat of any kind is not the traditional or 'locals' way, nor is practicing out in public! Their practice is more of an inward focus, like meditation, sometimes accompanied with chanting, and always practiced in their homes! So setting up outside, on the public Ghat, with mats and blankets... and with my yoga pants, I did always wear a Kirti or traditional blouse when in public out of respect for Indian cultural norms.. so in that sense I hope I was seen as a definite Westerner.. but one who was showing Indians respect by dressing conservatively as their women do! I have a deep love and respect for India, for Yogic traditions, and the Indian people who I met during my travels who with open arms and open hearts showed me their most sacred practices and their most human side... and ALWAYS with a smile!
However…. I will always know, no matter how
deep those bonds become, I will always be a Western Yogi!