Too often in life we confuse form with substance. How a thing looks to what it actually is. Our perception is often skewed and we are often blissfully unaware of it. In yogic terms our minds are clouded by avidya (ignorance) and we confuse that which is prakriti (temporary changing unconsciousness) for purusha (eternal unchanging universal consciousness and truth). This can be seen in all aspects of life from monetary matters and the confusion of wealth (abundance in one's life) with its static form (having physical money), to matters of beauty pertaining only to what is seen by the eye and the outward display of a thing utterly exemplified by how an Instagram page may give a very slanted view of a life or someone's appearance, to more subtle confusions of ego and personal aggrandisement being conflated with the pursuit of the common good very often seen in politics and business. This is neither good nor bad - it is simply how things are, a very human erring. Its consequences left unchecked are, however, distressingly destructive almost without exception.
One of the most confused aspects of modern yoga is this idea that the form is the substance of it. This has been one of the major problems with the importation of the practices to the West due to a great forgetting of the underlying principles. We see this in a striving for that perfect form of an asana all over Instagram and it is then rejected in people's often repeated mantra "I am not flexible enough to do yoga". This is a great shame because, as I have often mentioned, yoga is for everyone and there is no perfect form. What your body does, it does, what someone else's does, it does. The classical asanas are idealised forms and may certainly act as a guide to, but should never be a barrier to, yoga asana practice. There is a yoga for everyone. The yoga principles are the key and whether you are 5 or 50 or 100, these principles underpin the practice adapted to your body, your life and your ability.
This is overtly stated in the teachings of Krishnamacharya, and his lineage descendant, through his son Desikachar and Mark Whitwell amongst others. I highly recommend this great article by Mark clearly summarizing these teachings: https://markwhitwell.medium.com/a-summary-guide-to-the-principles-and-standards-of-teaching-yoga-mark-whitwell-a56f32b05710. It gets to the very Heart of Yoga and if you are further interested then check out the Heart of Yoga Studio and online offering at heartofyoga.com. or come to a class with me at cgyoga.org.uk.
This is a great gift available to us all and is an immense relief in a world of great confusion and internal suffering brought on by an erroneous belief that in this thing called life we must abide by and follow certain limited and limiting conditions and patterns. These yoga principles provide the framework for the teachings that speak truth to that erroneous belief whatever your religious background or beliefs, whatever your current social context. A yoga teacher is a guide and friend to help you find your yoga and let go of the patterning that forces confusion of the form of life for the substance of it. Intimacy with the breath leads to intimacy with the substance of life. It is difficult to put into a few lines here the profundity of these teachings, but I hope this gives a small insight. Practice is essential for realisation.
There is light, there is hope and there is heart-centred clarity in abundance on offer here. The truly beautiful thing is that it is already within each and every one of us, just waiting to be rediscovered, through the loss of nothing more than some common misperceptions on the nature of the reality and substance of life.
Namaste and much love to you.