Sunday, February 03, 2008

Active Inactivity

Today is Superbowl Sunday. And Tuesday is Super Tuesday. The big winners in these contests are no doubt going to make an even bigger splash in the media and in our awareness than the communication tidal waves that are already crashing in on us.

My splash won't be nearly as big. But I declare that today is a glorious day to start the Daily Yoga Tip again. (Thank you to you super students who have given me much encouragement throughout the past year, during which I was not writing.)

I'll use the National Football League as my inspiration today. There must be some symmetry in that since the last Daily Yoga Tip I wrote was about football, too.

This morning I saw an NFL-sponsored public service announcement for It was an ad featuring football stars encouraging young people to be physically active.

The opening line in the ad shows a referee throwing a penalty flag and announcing the infraction:
Personal foul! Inactive activities on a glorious day!
This oxymoron got my attention. I tend to react, indeed over-react, to this sort of illogical talk in advertising and common speech.

After I settled down, it occurred to me that it's simply a word problem that got me excited. It's not a real problem. I was able to see that we really do participate in many enriching and edifying endeavors ("activities") that aren't physically active at all. So it just sounds silly.

The joke is on me, really. I'm a yoga teacher. Yet I often miss the obvious point that the very meaning of the word yoga is "to integrate opposites." Yoga by its very name celebrates, affirms and even calls us to embrace irony and internal inconsistency.

A great example of this is savasana, the corpse pose. It's the final pose in nearly every yoga practice session. My most valued experiences in the pose are the refreshing feeling of deep physical relaxation, coupled with the satisfying gift of pure stillness.

When I first started practicing yoga, I would lie down for savasana and my sense of physical release was so deep I would drift off to sleep. You might call this inactive inactivity. While it was restful and refreshing, it also made me dull.

As I became more practiced, the irony emerged more clearly. Stillness made me more sensitive and more aware. While lying in corpse pose I was alert and actively perceiving the physical world (sensations, sounds, smells) as well as insights, memories, ideas and images. I was definitely not asleep.

To an observer, I looked just like the posture's name. I appeared to be dead. But the corpse pose had become active inactivity for me. I was still. But there was a lot going on. And the result was not dullness, but calming and enlivening.

Words and ideas are powerful things. But they sometimes get in the way. We really can experience the true reality of what sounds like incongruity. Here's to you and your experience of super savasana.

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

Kevin Perry

p.s., The Sanskrit Word of the Day from my previous Daily Yoga Tip was pincha. Pincha means tail feathers as in pincha mayurasana, the tail feathers of a peacock pose.

p.p.s., Today's Sanskrit Word of the Day is surya. I'll tell you what it means next time.

p.p.p.s., There are only a few weeks left to enroll in our next Experience Sanskrit workshop in Saint Charles, Missouri. Sallie and I will be at Jane's House of Wellbeing on Saturday, March 15 at 12:00 noon. Register here today. We'd love to meet you there.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737


Blogger Selly said...

I like to tell myself that my prediction for the Super Bowl based on ballet inspired you to write a yoga-football post on the same day. ;)


6:05 PM  
Anonymous Otto said...

Yoga is great if you have enough time to practice it and persistence

1:34 PM  

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