Wednesday, July 22, 2009

147/202 - Interconnectedness

Tuesday Off.

The day 201 meditation talks about how asana practice teaches us to relearn and appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. As Gates puts it, we learn how dramatically a subtle shift in the feet or in the hands can change an entire pose. We learn how changes in our breath, or just in our attitude, can change all the rest of our practice. Or, we can learn how important a slight shift in eye focus can be.

The opening pranayama is a pretty good example of this. I remember Lenette having us play with how far our mouth opens on the exhale. A simple thing like opening the mouth wider in that pose makes an enormous difference in how far back the head can go. Another difference comes from pushing the webs of your fingers together. The tighter you can keep these webs, the higher your elbows will go on the inhale. Rohit emphasized actually pressing your feet into the floor in this exercise, and the sense of grounding that comes from this pressing into the floor, has a fairly big impact on everything else. Each small detail has a real impact on all the rest of the pose.

The lesson Gates wants us to take away is that the sense of interconnectedness applies everywhere, not just on the mat. Sometimes, I think I have a sense of what he's saying. And this is probably a very important lesson. But I also think its another of the lessons that comes more through time, repetition and experience. Simply saying it doesn't carry one very far, I don't think. And its partially because of this, I think, that asana practice is so important, because it serves as a consistent reminder of this deep interconnectedness.


thedancingj said...

I like this topic. :) It is SO true for the yoga practice, not just for the individual postures, but for the series as a WHOLE. It still blows my mind, the extent to which every posture in the series affects every other one. I remember when Diane talked about pranayama at her seminar, she said that the reason you have to press your hands into your chin is to create LEVERAGE, which strengthens your neck muscles, which gives you a stronger backbend. So better pranayama --> better backbends, better floor series, better camel --> better spine --> better health. Craziness.

Favorite John Muir quote: "When you try to pick out anything by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

Duffy Pratt said...

Great point. I had not heard that aspect of pranayama before, but I definitely believe it. A similar effect probably happens by sticking your chin forward in back strengthening series. And then think of how much of the series involves tightening the butt, tightening the abs, lowering and relaxing between the shoulder blades, etc...