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Let me pose it this way

Posted by Julie Andres on Thursday, July 24, 2014 Under: yoga

The verb form of the word "pose" is commonly used to connote the action taken by persons preparing to be photographed. The camera points, the subject holds motion at bay for a few seconds, and then, with a click of the shutter, posing is complete.

Pose can also mean to set oneself up in pretense, such as a restaurant critic "posing" as an ordinary customer.

And a third meaning is to behave in a manner or place oneself in a situation to impress others. This could be with a celebrity, in a Ferrari, or at the crest of a mountain.

Or, to get to the point of this article, in a difficult yoga pose in the least possible clothing on the hood of a Ferrari, at the top of Huayna Picchu with Machu Picchu as a backdrop, on a perfectly lit tropical beach at sunset…you get the idea.

The Sanskrit word asana is commonly translated as "pose" in mainstream Western-style yoga, but asana in its true sense doesn't correlate to any of the definitions above. "Abiding," "dwelling," and "posture" are more accurate translations. While I am not a Sanskrit expert, or even close to it, over the last 13 years of serious yoga study and practice I have never come across a learned yogi describe asana as putting on a display for others.

Asana is described succinctly in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, written about 2,500 years ago: all that is said is that asana is to be practiced with steadiness and comfort. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which was compiled by devoted sages around the 14th century AD, contains fewer than twenty asana and they are described as purification therapies to ready one's body for sitting in meditation. Alone. Without showing off to anyone at all.

The purpose of yoga is to take yourself inward, not broadcast outward. To sit in meditation is to get to know the mind and, over time, to still its fluctuations. As the habits, attractions, and aversions of the ego become known to the conscious mind, the ability to resist its appetite for attention increases. Fear of being outdone by others is replaced by acceptance of oneself in every moment. The ego is, after all, the internal voice of fear.

There is no denying that a strong, healthy body is beautiful to look at.

But yoga is about how we see, not how we look. Even if it is amazing.

In : yoga 

Tags: yoga  asana  meditation  sanskrit 

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