By Holly LaBerge
Artful crotch flashing makes for entertaining yoga theater.
When I think about yoga, I do not imagine a person in tights standing on one leg while pulling his/her opposite foot up towards the sky. Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) is undoubtedly a valid and ancient yoga pose, though perhaps it isn’t the quintessence of yoga. Still the mere mention of the word “yoga” frequently produces a tremulous demonstration of it by someone in the room.
This yoga-based skit might draw out some “oo’s,” “ahhs,” and sometimes even laughs.
Part of my cringe regarding this coveted pose comes from early attempts at teaching it. I regularly included it in classes as an impressive goal pose. It seemed easier to please our egos than challenge them with too much yoga philosophy; though easier was definitely not as interesting.
Essential guidance from yoga’s Yamas and Niyamas encourage non-harming, non-greed, and non-grasping as focal points for yoga practice—and life. When our minds and hearts are aligned with such intentions for practice, the poses become loving experiments in self-acceptance and inner peace.
The benefits of yoga could be missed if I’m more concerned about getting my toe to my whatever.
Those types of external benchmarks are not measurements of yoga competency. Instead, being aware of how we meet our bodily experiences and sensations as they arise, and pass, show us valuable information about how we meet life: Can we practice without struggle or strain? How do we sit comfortably with emptiness? What would right effort feel like?
As a teen, I spent a few summers living in a home with a Japanese Buddhist family. My brother and dad resided in a shack in the backyard. My dad worked on the home in exchange for our accommodations. The family also happened to be our friends and enjoyed having us around the premises. A small Buddhist temple in the living room often caught my attention; MTV was going downhill, so mimicking the Buddha statue gave me something else to do with my free time. Even though I wasn’t aware of any meditation techniques, showing up, ringing the bell, and sitting down felt like enough.
If only for a few minutes at a time, this precious practice introduced me to the feeling of being at home in my own body.
Yoga is sometimes referred to as a goalless practice; there is no final destination and nothing to be accomplished. Beyond achieving, posturing and proving, the practice is the expansive present.
“Yoga asks us to walk a razor’s edge, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to a particular pose, while fully understanding that on another level, the pose is arbitrary and irrelevant. If we cling to the form of the poses as ultimate truth, we miss the point. The poses were born from the practice of yogis who looked inside themselves…” ~Anne Cushman
Holly LaBerge is a lover of community acupuncture, sitting Vipassana, giving and receiving massage, teaching and learning yoga, and being with people of all generations, especially her grandparents & spirit grandma. She enjoys bringing therapeutic yoga and meditation with her on the road to anywhere. Read more about yoga in daily life on her blog.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak