Going beyond Asana: it begins with Madonna.
My favorite song of Madonna is “Vogue” and it begins with the phrase: “Strike a pose”. It didn’t mean much until I was writing this post and thinking about Asana. In a yoga context she would have said: “Strike a pose, live it, and learn from it.”
Strike a pose. Well yes, we do strike a pose and not one, but many and not in one context but in several. We all do it all the time: the pose we strike for ourselves, for others, the pose we strike as a parent, a couple, a professional, as a member of a society, religion or group. Like in yoga some poses are more natural to us than others, some make us feel safe, sure of ourselves and others make us feel clumsy, insecure, vulnerable. Like in yoga we love the ones that “make us feel good” and we try to avoid the others. In life, like in yoga, there is no “one” pose that is better than the other, Sirsasana and Savasana are equally important, we need both to extract the information that will help us transform ourselves. Just like in our teens acceptance, individuality, adventure, self-discovery, were lei motif of many of the poses we had, in the rest of our lives we will work under the same pattern, poses are the reflection of our internal circumstances. Remember there is no pose better than other, if today you have the pose of a super high executive feeling the queen or king of the world, that is your pose today, it has something to teach you, you are there for a reason, and, like in yoga, no one can hold one pose forever, it’s human nature, we must change poses in order to evolve and we can’t choose not to change poses.
Live it. Also, YES! We must live it, embody it, go through it. Each pose has its challenges, each pose has its comforts. We are all different therefore we all strike different poses but what is equal to all is that we will be able to advance a deeper and truer version of ourselves when we face the pose we are living and extract from it all the information that is there for us. The pose of a hardworking woman or man, a struggling entrepreneur, a revolutionary, a sacrificed parent, a counter cultural spiritual guru or a high level executive are just some of the poses I encounter more often these days. Do not fight them, live them, learn from them. We strike these poses because they reflect our vision of the world which at the same time reflect all our hopes and fears. Like in yoga, just observe, be inquisitive, why you strike this pose? are you truly that? Asana translates “to sit in” which relates with being in the pose with ease, are you in ease with the pose you strike today? Be there as long as you need to learn what you need.
And last learn form it. Hell yeah! We strike poses to learn something about us. As we deal with the pose we face who we are, we discover our triggers, where our energy goes, how our fears attack us, and so on. We never get to master any pose, as each pose every time teaches us something new about ourselves, we learn to deal with that as well. In order to find peace we must allow ourselves to go through the poses in our lives. We must extract all the information that each of these poses we strike have for us, in the moment of our life that we are striking; in allowing ourselves to dive deep in each one we outgrow them and we strike other poses, hopefully, poses more in tune with who we truly are.
Finally, we strike poses to reach the understanding that we do not need them. The same way in the journey of self inquiry the only relevant thing is that you are practicing and learning about yourself. The same is with our daily poses. We have a pose today in life, perhaps we are extremely comfortable with it or we are beginning to outgrow it. In both cases they’re perfect, you are learning, which is the final goal. Like in yoga, in life.
To end I leave you food for thought, especially if you are a yoga teacher. What would happen if instead of calling them Asanas or postures, we call them situations. Imagine leading a class saying: and now please get in Adho Muka situation, or Pachimotanassana situation? If we think of yoga as self-inquiry, in my opinion, seems much more accurate, don’t you think?