Sunday, January 22, 2006

More Plutonian Exploration

Yesterday I said the mission to send an exploratory space craft to Pluto was like yoga. When you begin the journey, you don't really know what you'll find. But you'll benefit most if, like the New Horizons scientists, you set an intention.

The Pluto exploration also gives us other clues about yoga.

But first, a little background. Pluto was named after the Roman god of the same name. In Roman mythology Pluto is the god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld.

The planet was named when a little English girl told her grandfather that the planet was so cold and so distant that it should be named after the Roman god of the underworld.

When you think of the cold and distant, when you think of the dead and the underworld, what happens?

Most of us experience some sort of aversion. That which is pleasureable, we pursue. What is unpleasant, painful, or inconvenient, we block off or push away.

When I first began practicing yoga, my teacher encouraged me to be systematic about exploring and getting to know my feet and the back side of my body. They are less readily accessible than the hands and front body. So they are often ignored or unexplored.

Lie down on your back and focus your awareness on your feet. If you lie still, I think you might become aware of just how far your feet are from your conscious grasp, and how unfamiliar they seem.

Similarly, the back side of your body, something you never see, can be a strange and unfamiliar territory.

But to do yoga poses safely, you need to use the back body. For example, you can't do backbends without engaging the shoulder blades and tucking the tailbone. Both of these require awareness of and the ability to control the back body.

[Here's an interesting idea to ponder: I once read about an outdoor survival school at which each student is taught how to use a small hand mirror and an unusual set of postures to perform a daily routine for examining every square inch of his or her body, including the back of the body. Why? They're looking for ticks. If you miss one, a tick bite could be life threatening when you're in remote locations, far from advanced medical care.]

If you're new to yoga, exploring "the dark side" will be new, too--and sometimes frustrating. In fact, you might even dislike it. That's another aversion.

Patanjali talks about aversion in the YogaSutras.

Aversion is one of the kleshas, one of the obstacles standing in the way of attaining the state of Yoga. Attachment is also an obstacle. The others are ignorance, egoism, and the desire to cling to life. (See YogaSutras II.3-8)

If you follow the yoga path suggested by Patanjali, you start to resolve these strong pulls toward what you like and repulsions against what you don't. Your reactions to pleasure and pain, are chitta vritti (fluctuations of the mind). They lead to suffering.

Stop and think about how many times in your life you've been driven compulsively by a fear, something you thought unthinkable. Patanjali says we can master these reactions with practice.

So as you move along your yoga journey, intend to explore fully the dark side, the Plutonian underworld, that which is unpleasant. These might be the things you're ashamed of, your inadequacies, your fears, your disappointments.

This is rich territory for discovery, just like sending a probe to Pluto, but well worth doing.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., We can't wait to meet you at the Experience Sanskrit workshop this Saturday at Soul Fitness Yoga in Ft. Worth, Texas. It's a fun, four-hour workshop that makes learning and remembering the Sanskrit yoga pose names unforgettable. Register here.

Our upcoming workshops are Downgintown, PA on February 4th and Annapolis, MD on March 4th.

If you live in the Chicago area, we just set a date in Downers Grove. We'll announce it later this week.

p.p.s., Yelapa is calling you. Experience Paradise in sunny Yelapa Mexico. If you've enjoyed these Daily Yoga Tips, you'll really enjoy the live yoga training you'll receive from me and Sallie Keeney when we return to Yelapa February 18-25. Register here. Space is still available.

p.p.p.s., When you come to the Experience Sanskrit workshop, you'll learn that my favorite Sanskrit word root is angustha, as in supta padangusthasana and other poses you do all the time. I'll tell you tomorrow what it means.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
905 Eastland Plaza Suite B, #106
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 680-6737


Blogger Betty said...

It's nice to see a blog like this. I'm finding that the times I engage in meditation/yoga are the only times I don't feel afraid. The effect last a while, of course, but must be repeated regularly!

8:46 AM  

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