It is said that the relationship with the mat is the same like the relationship to life. Some days we love life and some others, a lot less. So, it is not strange to be in and out of yoga, and I mean by yoga here is the physical yoga or asanas.
I have much respect to disciplined yoga students with daily practice. But I am not disciplined and this attitude of mine made me wonder and ask questions here and there. As a skeptic myself, I thought something was wrong with me. However I came into a deep realization.
Yoga is not only a workout as it has been marketed on social media as I have written about it on a previous post The IG Yoga. Yoga is made of my many paths to enlightment and Hatha yoga or asanas is one of them.
Looking closely at my behaviour, I noticed that yoga makes one connected to the universe. When my connectivity to the universe weakens due to daily life hassles, I feel it in my body which makes me unroll my mat and practice.
The Ashtanga Yoga is a practice of the ancient wisdom of Patanjali’s yoga sutra. It leads to the overall development of mind, body, and spirit. These… Ashtanga Yoga – A simple guide to healthy life during crisis ——– West, meet East.
There is nothing wrong with the Instagram Yoga; and by IG Yoga I mean all yoga sites on social media. Yoga here is displayed from a marketing perspective; hence the images of difficult postures, fit bodies, fancy outfits and sometimes music. This is understood and widely accepted because jobs have turned into the online world mainly.
However, the IG Yoga is, in its majority, a continuation of the western perception of yoga, which is different from the eastern one.
So what is the “western yoga”?
Simply put, yoga in the West is seen solely as Hatha Yoga, a workout with many physical and mental benefits. This is the reason why it is taught in gyms for example as part of group classes. The aim is the posture or asanas as a path to the mental benefits.
In India, yoga is taught is ashrams or in specialized institutes. There, it is not about types of yoga but schools of yoga. Yoga, which means union, is the path of enlightenment and connection with all types of life. Hatha Yoga is one branch out of six which are the following:
Raja: with meditation as the main focus
Karma: path of service, of self-transcending action
Jnana; development of the intellect through the study of the texts.
Tantra: the most esoteric of all branches and widely misunderstood, it is about consecrated sexuality. Tantra is not porn.
Apart from some hints and tips about meditation, where are the rest of the branches on social media?
Since the subject of meditation is less clear than I anticipated I decided to sum up a description of a Buddhist to save you 1 1/2 hours of listening. The core of the Buddha’s way to liberation consists in the practice of meditation It was by meditation that the Buddha reached enlightenment himself and it […]
Since meditation has taken social media by storm and everyone is trying to do some kind of meditation, this post clarifies in details the differences between each type of Buddhist meditations.
To those of you who are interested in meditation (especially in hard times of pandemic and financial instability and insecurity), I urge you to check this post of my expert friend and learn step by step meditation.
There is nothing wrong with sitting comfortably and meditating, just like the common taught method of meditation. However, I feel there is something in this that doesn’t work for me. Meditation is an individual practice, although done sometime in groups. The meditative experience remains different to each one of us. This is a why a seated meditation doesn’t work for me.
Longtime ago, thousands of years ago, when meditation was invented as a technique to calm the mind and bring awareness to people, life back then was totally different. People used to walk all day to bring water and food and walk back home carrying whatever they gathered. They laboured their lands, picked fruits and vegetables, hunted animals, cooked and cleaned, guard their herds. Surely at the end of a long active day, they needed to sit down, close their eyes and meditate.
Nowadays, especially in big cities, life is busy in a different way. We sit down for too long, counting on machines and vehicules to do the daily chores. Food is abundant and easy to get, as long as we can pay for it. Then, why to sit even more just to meditate? We should meditate while moving more.
Meditation is commonly refered to as a prolonged concentration on breath and on being present. Which means it can be done in any activity. Put your heart in it, concentrate on the present task, focus on your breath and you are meditating.
No one likes stillness; it is unnatural, taking into consideration that movement defines us. Stillness is socially abnormal since we are constantly asked to move, to be social, to commute, to be active. Consciously or not, stillness has not a great reputation socially speaking.
Why do we fear stillness? Does it remind us of death in a way? And what is the link with containment?
Yes it reminds us of death. Life is noise and action. Stillness is the anti-life.
However, the power of stillness occurs when there is a shift in perception. Take for an example the picture above, or any picture you have; it is an action or a moment that stood still in time. Without this stillness made possible by the camera, the moment refered to wouldn’t have been immortal. We wouldn’t have seen details, often blurred by movements. Worse, we wouldn’t have concrete memories.
Whoever tried a Yin yoga class knows what I am talking about. Yin yoga is a slow paced yoga where a pose can be held up to 3 minutes. It’s a test for the body and for the mind that can go crazy. Before almost crying, a shift in the mind can happen, a call for discipline and focus. Benefits will be felt at that moment of mind shifting.
Containment is a sort of spacial stillness, a self-imprisonment. Normally speaking, imprisonment is a punishment. Ironically, it has become the only way to save ourselves and the world! Just like in Yin yoga where the body and the mind feel in captivity, containment is quite the same painful experience. Only a mind shift can turn containment into something positive.
Then what is exactly this mind shift?
Simply put, it is focusing on ourselves, on our inner growth. On our intellectual developement by reading that book that we once bought and we never read. On our connection with the loved ones. On our inner child who wants to play and creates. On our plants. On everything that makes home the place we love to be in. But also, on our body by optimizing it and taking care of it. Last but not least, we need to focus on our mind, on our mental health. If you focus on all these daily, time will fly quickly.
Boredom is a state of mind. Anxiety is a state of mind too. Both are not needed. In time of crisis, positivity and reasonability can save us.
I will not mention in this post the many benefits of yoga that can be found a click away if you Google it. I am more interested to point out the specificities of yoga as a Body without Organs or BwO as I would refer to all along this post.
The BwO is a complex concept of the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), one of the most compelling and intriguing philosophers:
The BwO refers to the deeper reality underlying some well-formed whole, constructed from fully parts. At the same time the BwO may also describe a relationship to one’s literal body, for example: in yoga (Deleuze gives the example of anorexia). To say it differently, the BwO is when the body stops working as an organism and starts to take on a certain perspective on reality, far from the normal behaviour of a human towards his or her body.
Deleuze began using the term in The logic of sense (1969), while discussing the experiences of playwright Antonio Artaud. Later the term BwO would expand in meaning and become one of the major concepts of Capitalism and Schizophrenia (in its 2 volumes written with Félix Guattari: Anti-Oedipus  and A thousand plateaus ). The BwO is an exploration of depths by rejecting the surface completely and returning to the body. Furthermore, Deleuze describes an undifferentiated unhierarchical realm that lies deeper than the world of appearances as it is told in mythologies. This underlying realm is an idea found in the yogic tradition saying that the Absolute lies deeper than the Veil of Maya or the illusionary appearances of what we see in our daily world. The daily world is the Veil of Maya (Matrix I, the movie, explores this idea). Deleuze explains the BwO by the image of the Dogon egg (or the Genesis of the cosmos) as a container of the germs of things that starts to develop within the egg:
Let’s go back to yoga and see how the the BwO of the yogic’s body is a Dogon egg where emotions, ideas, capacities, creativity, wisdom etc… start to develop and extend through inhuman postures (it hurts just by looking at them!) as shown in the pictures bellow:
Then, energy flows, body brain and mind are freed (the 3 are the same entity). This becoming is like any kind of birth: it takes time, it is violent and painful, it is the Nietzsche’s “becoming who you are”; at the end it is joyful! Therefore, yoga is a BwO experience leading towards new becomings, such as the Genesis of the cosmos!