Friday asana aid: Clearing your mind

As promised last week, here are some videos to help clear out your mind.

Great yogis breath just once a minute, apparently. Next:

It says “clearing your mind.” Next:

I’ve cleared my mind, so I can’t remember if she was part of the selfie debate. Next:

Wow, that voice does the trick.

Posted by Steve

Timely enough: David Swenson on how you know you’re doing yoga

Here’s a timely capture of some thoughts from David Swenson, during a happening-this-weekend workshop in Milan.

He talks about how you know you’re doing yoga, which builds nicely from the current in the media and online discussion around yoga photos/selfies.

Post is right here. Key part:

“Practicing yoga has nothing to do with how flexible you are. It is not that the more you are flexible, the more you are spiritual. Only the practitioner knows if he is truly doing yoga when on the mat. In some way, the greatest yoga is what you can’t see, though we are very attracted towards what we can see.

If somebody asks you ‘how was your practice?’ most likely answers will be: ‘oh, it was awesome / terrible BECAUSE’…. and than a list of items such as balance in this posture, touching the toes, grabbing the wrists in that other posture are brought forward. This has nothing to do with yoga. That doesn’t mean we’re supposed to ignore our body, though it has to be used as a tool, it’s not the end in itself. Yoga is about breath and mind control…Yogashchitta vritti nirodhah (Patanjali 1.2)… yoga is the mastery of the fluctuations of the mind… that is yoga.

Check out more at the link.

Posted by Steve

The problem with yoga selfies goes well beyond what one picture says

The New York Post this week adding to the ongoing debate about the value of yoga selfies — or the same debate that says those photos devalue yoga.

You can check out the piece at this link. And just to clue those in who (luckily) aren’t totally sure what this discussion is all about:

Stiles’ limber loop through the Big Apple may be a savvy marketing ploy, but it spotlights a growing phenomenon — the yoga showoff who’s more circus sideshow than beacon of motivation.

[snip]

Carson says there is a growing number of practitioners who feel that the self-indulgent nature of yoga selfies and performance posing is the complete antithesis of what yoga is meant to be — contemplative and personal.

“The discussion has been evolving over time since Instagram began. There’s a sentiment [among the yoga community] that they’re doing a disservice to yoga by putting these pictures out there. It’s showy and basically everything that the practice is not supposed to be about — ‘Look at me and these awesome poses I can do!’ ”

We’ve noted this phenomena before, and I was going to just ignore the Post’s piece until I came to this part of the story, one paragraph from the end:

Kay Kay Clivio, the lead teacher trainer at NYC’s Pure Yoga, says Baldwin twisting herself into a pretzel in a pedicure chair for all to see is far from inspiring.

“To me, that’s more of a publicity stunt,” says Clivio. “Yoga is a practice of body meets grace. And being humble. And I don’t know how humble or graceful that is. I don’t know what her intention is. Is it teaching people how to manage their stress or uplift themselves — or is it just wanting people to follow her and have the most followers?”

I’ll highlight what really caught my attention: “Yoga is a practice of body meets grace.”

Nope. It isn’t.

Seeing one of the “opponents” to the yoga selfies state that got me thinking that the real problem with this whole debate is that the folks on both (all) sides fundamentally misunderstand or misdefine (or maybe have redefined) yoga.

Here’s what I’d suggest yoga is: Yoga is the stilling of the actions of the mind.

Yes, Patanjali. And there’s nothing about the body to it. Nothing.

I’d agree that dance or ballet, or gymnastics, may be a practice of body meets grace. Maybe even ice skating. But not yoga.

Yoga can’t be captured on Instagram or in a selfie.

The trouble is that the way this debate is playing out, it’s already lost. Yoga as a pose, as a contortion of the body, is the default definition that underpins the argument. From that definition, folks then try to decide if this person’s pose/picture or that person’s Instagram/asana shows off humility or grace.

And that misses the point. Well, worse — it has changed the point. Everyone posting photos of themselves in asanas are helping to complete the redefinition of yoga (at least here in the West).

Now, I recognize that may sound pretty … oh, the word may be “conservative,” and I suppose it is. But it doesn’t mean I’d promote outlawing asana selfies or even people having some fun with their yoga practice. I even understand how these photos can inspire people.

I just wish there were some way to convey as easily as posting a photo that there is a little something more to the whole practice of yoga than what meets the eye.

Posted by Steve

When humans become demonic

For some reason, when I read Tim Miller’s blog post this week, I kept returning to this line: “Human beings become demonic when their main desire is for self-promotion and glory.”

In the age of Instagram, Facebook, selfies and, sure, blogs, I can’t believe we aren’t over-run by modern-day Ravanas.

Maybe we are.

Anyway, it’s a good reminder of what we are supposed to be pursuing in our yoga practices: self-realization, not self-glory. And now might be a good time, per the heavens, for re-booting ourselves, according to Tim:

This is a kind of Mid-Spring celebration, both of the exuberance of nature and the budding power of our own sexual energy.  Bharani reminds us that in order to give birth to something new, sometimes something old needs to die.    

Maybe our old habits and ways?

Posted by Steve