Thursday, June 6, 2013
“SLOW COOKIN’” popularly references a more eased step out of a frenetic approach to living. And one result of slowing down the process can be a rich, complex and subtle flavor to the simplest of foods.
The same might be said for body-mind practice. In yoga, slowing down and holding poses—‘cookin’ and ‘stewin’—offers rich health benefits such as the optimization of the parasympathetic nervous system and more rapid gains in flexibility, as validated by research on the effect of holding body position on spindle and Golgi release in muscle and connective tissue.
For B.K.S. Iyengar, holding poses was a crucial dimension of yoga that distinguished his approach. And yet a variety of types of yoga (as well as other forms of exercise) claim similar or better improvements in flexibility and strength and bringing the body into alignment.
But Iyengar’s major quest is likely more of a spiritual aspiration. And stilling and holding poses—asanas—offers a gateway to the transpersonal. Rather than simply personal benefits such as respite, physical health, release, centering, and/or the opportunity for personal insight, holding poses can be an act of surrender—a way or practice that comes into harmony with and that expresses a greater process. And in the stillness, in the return to silence, there is an opportunity to experience a larger space and to shift from a specific consciousness to a more cosmic consciousness.
… a rich, complex and subtle flavor…
Paraphrasing very closely to Iyengar’s words:
Asanas are my prayers. I give my gesture of affection through my
presentation. I want that each and every cell should ring the bell
of the divinity.
[Iyengar in Lindsey Clennell, Sadhaka: The Yoga Of B.K.S.
Iyengar, film documentary currently in post-production. See
sadhakafilm.net or http://vimeo.com/62818591 to see video
clip as well as help fund completion.]