Monday, April 18, 2011
Form Within Form
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Hidden Greatness/Dai-In, photo, 2011
ASANAS—POSES IN YOGA—offer more than just strengthening tissue and opening joints or massaging body parts and enhancing physiology.
In psychodrama, having a family member arrange other family members into a group “sculpture” of various body positions may reveal external and internal feelings and family dynamics. Similarly, in gestalt art therapy, drawing yourself, and then being asked to assume the gesture/pose/expression may offer unanticipated insights.
In The Inner Life Of Asanas, Swami Lalitananda explores her introspective experiences with asanas such as Tree, Mountain, Cobra, Warrior, and Swan. Each pose might provoke a recollection of life experiences, a personal sense of meaning, as well as a reflection of societal activities occurring in her everyday life at the time of practice. In the child pose [balasana], there may be a sense of hiding in the comforting sense of refuge [perhaps, for her, even expressed more in Tortoise pose], or more metaphorically, a sense of the child state and even childhood experiences; and in the corpse pose [savasana/shavasana], perhaps, in the sense of surrender, nuances of death. The poses offer stability and solidity and foundation as well as weight/burden, as well as limitations and a sense of destroying limits. There may experiences of hiding and closing, of equilibrium and upside-down disequilibrium, lightness and synchronicity and balance, and receptivity as well as vulnerability.
All of this variety sums in an alchemy of wholeness that is different for each person, and this sense of wholeness can be expressed the reality of everyday life rather than be something esoteric. In the personal, there is also the awakening of the personal expressing qualities that seem to be universal. There might be something akin to Jungian archetypes, such as the mother, the hero, and the divine, being expressed in the pose and a deeper sense of these universals being expressed in one’s personal actions. In each asana, there is a practice that links the practitioner with a web of practice that goes deep back in time and that occurs globally. There is a sense of being linked with all life, past and present and future.
In the practices of restorative yoga and yin yoga, poses are held for some length. This increased duration of poses that are done quietly opens a door of contemplation into a sense of form within form. Factors explored in the deeper dimensions of restorative yoga that appear in other sections of Santosha: Restorative-Yin Yoga Journal, such as sacred space, insights into breath, flow, are consequences of asana. Amplified in the quiet duration of restorative-yin practice, Swami Lalitananda offers an overview of the nature and objectives of a more comprehensive practice of Hatha Yoga [The Inner Life Of Asanas. Kootenay Bay, B.C.: Timeless Books, 2007]:
The atmosphere of the class is quiet, as if each person were alone on an inward journey. [p.11]
The aim of the Hidden Language of Hatha Yoga is to find the centre and to unite the sun and the moon, the masculine and the feminine, the rational and the intuitive, bringing the active and the receptive into balance, making ourselves whole again. The process is like climbing a mountain. It takes time and effort and means facing challenges. But as you climb you are rewarded with a wider perspective, greater vision and understanding. [p.12]
The value of Hatha Yoga is not just stretching the muscles, but in stretching the mind. [pp.13-14]