Richard Freeman and the relativity of yoga

There’s a new “Ask the Experts” up at Yoga Workshop, and it is both totally basic and highly complex.

Would you expect anything less from Richard Freeman? (Maybe that’s a good “Ask the Experts” question for him.) Link to it is here, and the core of the question — do you do the left or right side first in asana practice — and a part of the answer:

When I was in the Bihar school of yoga, doing my yogic studies, I was told to do asanas always on right side first. That is to say if I am doing janu sirshasana I have to stretch out my right leg in front of me first and have the left leg folded before repeating the posture other side. However when I studied Ashtanga, I was made to do janu sirsasana with my right leg folded and left leg stretched out first.

[snip to part of the answer]

Welcome to the world of relativity! One of the wonderful aspects of yoga is that it teaches us to be comfortable with complicated situations and paradox. As you know, in a temple one always allows the right to lead—so you walk clockwise around the temple and you always rotate clockwise. Counter clockwise is considered inauspicious. However “clockwise action” is context dependent. If you look at a dancer spinning clockwise from the point of view of the earth itself, that dancer is actually turning counter clockwise. If, you look at the same dancer from above they are turning clockwise. This could seem paradoxical, but in fact it is a matter of perspective and yoga allows us to feel comfortable with this kind of paradox!

Click on through the find out a very practical reason to lead always with the right leg in a Mysore room.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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