The practice of yoga is to unite as “yog” translates to yoke or unite. How can division be used to create more understanding and harmony? How can we celebrate difference without creating division and honor the same humaness in us all.
In college, my department was undergoing some severe issues of discrimination. They brought in an expert to work with us. We formed two lines facing one another and as the expert called out different categories of identity we had to move to the appropriate line. Almost everyone experienced standing in the line that was the disempowered or disenfranchised group. I’d like to say it cured the world’s problems but it did open up your eyes and give us a new perspective.
In order to understand another person, you must first see yourself.
In class, have you ever been asked to look at your foot and been surprised to see it wasn’t where you thought it was? Or to find out the elbow you swore was straight, wasn’t? No, teachers don't do this because we are control freaks it's how this brilliant method cultivates self-awareness and truthfulness.
Have you been in class when you are asked to do a pose and you think "hell, no! that's terrifying!" and then the person next to you just does it? And suddenly, you feel the fear abating because you are seeing it from another person's perspective?
The other day a student learned chair Sarvangasana for the first time. When she came out she was at a loss of words. After a few moments of silence, she said, “It’s like a kaleidoscope has been turned a small amount and all the shapes and colors changed.”
Looks like a mandala!
Our poses place us in orientations in space that we normally don’t experience in our daily lives. All these movements are so good for the physical body and even cultivate courage, compassion but what about how we see things? Can an inversion actually help you see from different perspective? As they often say in Pune, "You find out!"
This week’s practice is more a reflection and observation. It must be done on an inversion your practice with ease. If you don’t practice Sirsasana, you can do any inverted variation.
Go outside to your balcony or garden and do Sirsasana. Watch your mind. How’s your balance? Is it like looking through a different kaleidoscope? Can you see some things more clearly now that you are upside down? Come down and look around. What do you see? How do you see? How do you feel? Observe the quality of your mind.