[UPDATE January 2014 — I am teaching yoga Mon’s and Wed’s, noon, January 20 – May 5 at Sheridan College. I hope you’ll join us!]
1. Choose Some Assumptions. For example, let’s say:
Every part of your body wants its turn being on top, floating up toward the heavens, supported — indeed, elevated — by whichever parts of you are touching the ground.
Every part of your body wants its turn being the foundation, connecting you to earth through gravity’s reassuring pull AND — since every action has an equal and opposite reaction — channeling the ground’s strength up into the rest of your body.
2. Fool around with your body.
3. See what happens!
I like to think this is how yoga developed. All these guys (and they mostly WERE guys because in that particular time and place the women were busy taking care of, well, those guys) hung around under bodhi trees experimenting with fun ways to hook up their minds with their bodies and their spirits.
The coolest thing about being human is that we are born with those three gifts, and everything we do involves all three of them. That’s inevitable and may account for what Joseph Campbell called “the rapture of being alive.”
It’s even MORE rapturous to connect those three aspects of human nature intentionally which is why we love yoga, zen archery, labyrinths, the rosary, or any other spiritual action that requires some thought.
And the greatest fun is developing your OWN “yoga.” This Sanskrit word for yoking conveys the sense that we not only endeavor to connect our three gifts to each other but for some purpose — like plowing the fertile experience of being alive. One way to create such an integrated connection is to 1) Use your mind to create rules that will engage the mind. 2) Use your body to move something in the physical world, including your body of course!
In other words: make up a game. Play!
Then add the two steps that move you into what Diane Ackerman calls DEEP PLAY: 3) Use your spirit — that pure presence — to notice. Register and enjoy what happens in all aspects of your experience. 4) Adjust, based on the feedback from your gloriously human self: the analytical words of your mind, the moving sensations of your body, and the here-and-now images of your spirit.
Then play more.
The example at the beginning of this post is one way I make up my own system of yoga — I invite you to try it if you want. It’s kind of cool how often I end up with some traditional yoga pose — like what if the tops of my forearms, the tops of my feet, and the top of my forehead all get their turn on bottom at the same time? Child’s pose!
- Morph every position into a forward bend… then a backward bend, or
- Notice how it feels to breathe in every position, and then create as many different “breath-types” as possible by repositioning my body.
But you’ll enjoy much deeper play when you make up your own game. I hope you’ll share it with me via email or comment. Meanwhile, the bottoms of my feet are clamoring to be on top for a change, so I’ve got to hit the floor for some hard core yoking…
Game on my friends!