A parable -
So, you and I share a desk workspace; it’s comfortable and has what we need – however, right between our spaces, where we commonly reach and pass objects, a nail head has poked up and is protruding. Simple, small, minor, but an annoyance; paper tears, we get a scratch or gouge on the palm, the coffee cup stops sliding easily and spills…
On our workspace is a tool, I call it a hammer. If I pick that hammer up, and mindfully, when appropriate and with proper intention strike the pokey nail head, it’ll go back down and our lives will once again be easier as we use our workspace. If I simply tap-tap, with no swing, and then put the hammer away, well, it’s good drama and theatre, but no benefit: if I swing as
hard as I can – “that damn nail, I’ll show it, I’m gonna be a Carpenter someday!” – I may miss the mark, or worse, create a dimple on the workspace to add to existing annoyance of the pokey nail head.
Appropriate technology, correct tool, skills and intention, proper use of force – benefit, extremely reduced chance of negative repercussions, excellent chance of increased happiness and well-being.
Same you, same me, same workspace, same hammer… now, a mosquito; I’m thinking ‘what a drag for Glenn that that mosquito is just buzzing around his head’! So, I sit very still, wait for it to land on his crown, stealthily pick up the hammer, and Krishna’s blue-faced grin if I don’t assist him by dealing that pest a solid death blow. “Glenn… Glenn, you ok, Glenn??” Glenn
doesn’t look well and he has a nasty dent in his head.
Inappropriate technology, incorrect tool, questionable skill, misinformed and misdirected intention, improper use of force –detriment. A bad idea, done poorly, hurting someone.
With no disrespect, it would be difficult for me to take the advice of someone who knew that they were inappropriately applying the tools and skill of a technology – as in saying that they injured themselves through four decades of incorrectly applying said practice. Would you go to a barber with a horrible haircut, would you go to a relationship counselor who was a three-time divorcee?
One of my teacher’s teachers broke it down really sweetly – ‘so, you caused injury to yourself while being attentive to your breath; I do not understand this, can you please explain how this would happen?’.
Most ‘yogis’ like to feel they’ve transcended the‘calisthenics’ and the gym-yoga and are now doing the yoga; perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we are all using the asana practice to help us connect with a greater technology known as yoga, but that simple physical movement without the union of stability and flexibility, root and aspiration, expression and surrender may not actually be yoga.
So, be sweet as you ask yourself is it asana practice or yoga? You make the choice, every time you get on the mat. Close your eyes, how’s your breath – not your booty, not your bicep, not your bakasana or sirsasana, how’s your breath??
Be well, be stable, be grounded, do your yoga – on and off the mat. Do no harm – on and off the mat!
GIve thanks and praise - be well.