My favorite moment this week involved, Judith Lasater’s discussion of corpse pose, Savasana. Death. “By admitting death, Savasana teaches us how to live,” paraphrasing Lasater. She spoke about fully investing in our breath, intentions and movement as we practice asana so that we can let go during Savasana without restlessness. Most poignantly for me, she connected the experience of corpse pose with our last moments. Will I have invested and lived fully enough to be at ease as I die? Will I be able to let go of my life without regret when the time comes?
The discussion reminded me of raising my girls. I had the privilege of being a full-time mom, even if distracted, during their formative years. I find myself able to let go because I am comfortable with all the time we spent together as intentful and loving. I trust in our relationship. Maybe the practice of yoga is like nurturing and mothering my life , to build trust and to able to let go with ease when the time comes. Mortality becomes a reminder to live fully. Savasana becomes a reminder to move intently.
The second moment I enjoyed this week involved, Lizzie’s (and her mom’s) comparison between philosophers and yogis. “A philosopher watches the ocean, a yogi jumps into it.” Yoga demands engagement with life, at least in Hatha yoga. As a philosopher, I really like this comparison. I imagine, after watching for years, I got tired and found yoga to be my path towards wisdom beyond knowledge.
The third moment I want to mention is the discussion about whether “witness consciousness” makes us numb and indifferent. Lasater answered with a Kantian aesthetic condition of “disinterested interest” or in her words, “disinterested and fascinated.” For Kant, one can only judge beauty if it there is no ‘self’ interest in the judgment. Maybe, yogic witness consciousness allows us to be aware without being subject to the intensity of emotional and physical strain. It permits us to drop ‘self’ or ego-centric interest. Things are not happening TO me. They are just happening. Witness consciousness us to stay in the tension without trying to escape or wallow. Sometimes I call this my anthropologist research mode.
There are so many moments this week that made me think and wonder. Even the idea that vinyasa involves noticing the moments of linking, transition and change as accepting that life is ever-changing. This morning as I was teaching, I almost forgot a part of a sequence on the second side that involved moving from a high lunge, twisted high lunge, back to high lunge then stepping into a pyramid. As I started and noticed my oversight, I laughed and took a step back to recover. The 2 seconds and one step to recover my place seemed like a huge gap, a break in the flow. Despite my initial self-judgement and backward step, staying with the rhymic flow gave me an unanticipated ease the rest of the practice. As long as I keep moving forward (sometimes back) all is well.
May we all keep moving with ease (until it is time for the ultimate savasana).
Thank you, my fellow Patanjali readers.