Let’s return to the old Kung Fu re-runs. When Caine, fondly called Grasshopper by his master, is a small boy in the monastery, his master finds him watching fish in a small pond.
The master asks Grasshopper, “How many fish are there?” Grasshopper replies, “Twelve, Master.” “Good,” replies the master, “and how many ponds are there?” Somewhat confused by such a seemingly obvious question, Grasshopper responds, “One, Master.” “No,” replies Master, “there are twelve ponds; twelve fish, twelve ponds.”
In the previous exercise, we could have asked a room full of five hundred people to do the experiment and all the answers describing the world would be different because each person would have described pieces of their unique self. Five hundred people, five hundred worlds.
The world and others simply reflect back to us what we are seeing, not what is there. It is as if wherever we look, there are only mirrors that show us pictures of ourselves. We cannot love or hate something about another person or the world unless it is already inside of us first. The world gives you what you see. You can experiment with this truth by changing your story about what you see. You will notice, the world changes to fit the story you are telling.
The Buddhists say that the universe dies when you do because you have created your own little world of reality. As you begin to steadfastly pay attention to what you are saying to yourself about the moment, the other person, yourself, and life, you will get clues about the “boxes” you have wrapped yourself in that create your own little universe. All of these utterances are projections of the parts of yourself you love, don’t love, can’t see, or can’t yet accept.
From - The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
We can all use this lesson in our daily yoga practice.
Why do we even do yoga? We all have a reason for the first time we finally come through the door and take a class.
I want to get in shape...I want to get flexible…I want to get skinny…
But what keeps us coming back? Any fitness class, any spin class or Zumba class or Pilates class will do the trick, why do we keep coming back to yoga?
It’s not about flexibility, it’s not about the poses. It’s the chance to reconnect to mindful awareness, reconnect to your heartbeat and breath and strengthen these connections. Practice the connections and make them so strong that they follow you off your mat and out the door of the studio and stay with you through your daily life.
Every yoga class is a chance to reconnect and strengthen these connections. Well if flexibility and stretching is not the reason, why do we bother with the poses at all?
The yoga poses are simply a way to challenge your mindful connections. The linking of movement to our breath and mindfulness is a way to try and distract you, to make you hold your breath, to let that monkey mind back in. In the end, the practice of yoga is accepting the challenge of the pose and keeping your mind clear, your breath and heartbeat steady throughout the class.
Yes, your yoga poses will eventually make you stronger, more agile, more stable and flexible, but the pose is not the goal. If the pose is not the goal, then a perfect pose is even less so.
If there are twelve yoga students in my class, then there are twelve different yoga classes going on. Each student has made their connections, each student has begun to move and challenge those connections and each student is on their own mat, on their own journey, maybe they are practicing with intense focus and their eyes are closed. No one is on your yoga journey but you, no one has the same body or experiences as you and no one’s pose ever looks the same.
But the challenge is the same for everyone, stay on your own mat, find the connections between your mindful awareness, your heartbeat and your breath, then begin linking and strengthening those connections as you start to move.
You are on your own mat and your own journey, therefore there is no one to compare yourself to, there is no judgement on your mat and no jealousy; just your yoga path laid out before you.
930am Tuesday Hatha for Warriors at Lotus and Lettuce, there’s room in my pond for another fish. Who’s going to join me?