why practice?

“Enlightenment may or may not happen — you are stitched up. In the meantime you may entertain yourself by meditating or by watching soap operas.” ~on p. 51 in Madhukar Thompson’s Gentle Hammer, Friendly Sword, Silent Arrow

why practice, indeed… my loudmouth self jumped in on a student’s question at the anusara immersion last weekend (mentioned in the previous post). i think the student was asking why practice asana. (asana refers to the postures or physical aspect of yoga). this came near the end of a presentation on anatomy. i interjected about my understanding of why, regarding asana  in particular.

a beloved friend and colleague explained her take on it this way years ago: yoga asana is a powerful movement practice as one learns to breathe and find ground while the body is in unusual circumstances related to gravity. while under sometimes extreme joint and muscle extension, yogins practice stability and softening. the metaphor to life off the mat is clear: it is the unusual or unexpected demands on the self (whether exhilarating eustress or plain ‘ol stress) that come to test our resolve.

i used my friend’s example of the contrast to weight lifting too. such a movement practice develops strength, but in a predictable way. i love weight lifting, personally. it is a new practice for me; almost two years in — ever since the yogaspot closed, sniff sniff. in weight lifting, the range of motion of the joints and muscles is limited and controlled by the machine or free weight. one’s shape in space of extension or flexion is necessarily linear, to be safe under such stress. i typically practice this safe predictable stuff with my eyes closed, to focus on bizarre proprioceptive/vestibular energy, longline currents, and anatomy trains. funfun!

while moving heavy boxes or gardening (um, i don’t garden), i am motor planning, even if subconsciously. it’s a relatively controlled stress-free situation. if i am pushed on a crowded sidewalk or in a bike wreck, for example, the unforseen has arrived. i practice to be agile in both physical and emotional/mental response to such occasions.

(i fall and get back up again and again. from my page ways you can help, i explained it thusly: if you are able to respond gracefully (versus react impulsively) at any given moment in the day, and more resourcefully accomplish your work and familial tasks, then all around will benefit. all around will learn. this is a practice. (ask my mom. i crush smush with aplomb in conversation, and try really really slowly to remember grace.)

yoga asana is motorially planned as well, but with a wild range of shapes in space that your body may make. the spirals inside us are brilliantly designed to absorb and express push, pull, reach and grasp. (by hooooo?? hahahahaaa  😉  )

why practice asana? so that your fascia and tissues and digestion and bones and breath are as flexible in stress response as your equanimous mind. hey, it’s called practice. um. did you watch the vid i posted? you gotta, yo.

other layers of why practice, of course, are of the know-thyself and express-thy-self-truly varieties. find out exactly hooooo you are aren’t. go deep and wide. best of luck. i love you all the way to nowhere in time out of time.


2 Responses to “why practice?”

  1. Amy Says:

    What a great “reason to practice.” Gracias.

  2. why practice? part duuhheuxhhhhhhh « embodhiment Says:

    […] embodhiment bodhisattvas stay in their body « why practice? […]

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