Thursday, August 04, 2011

Acrobatic versus bhakti yoga

Ashtanga yoga has a lot of acrobatic aspects. To fold the legs into lotus pose while in handstand is surely a challenge for the body and the mind and it looks acrobatic. This is a pose that comes rather late in the series, but also the first series has poses that amaze people and yoginis alike, i.e. garbha pindasana.

Sometimes it seems to me as if nothing else is important but to perform the next asana. I see greedy yoginis who want the next pose and the next pose. Nothing else counts. What is your last pose is a wide-spread question to see how progressed a yogini is. My favourite question is: Do you practice alone also? This answer tells me much more about the level of a yogi or yogini than the last pose. Those who are able to practice alone have reached already a certain level of independence  from circumstances. A mat is necessary, nothing more. But I distract.

I miss the atmosphere that came with yoga 30 years ago. Not that I don't love my sweaty exhausting practices anymore, I do. 30 years back practicing yoga was an attitude towards life. Nothing could shatter a yogi or yogini. One was relaxed whatever happened. And peaceful. Vegetarian eating was a must. I had a friend a cellist and talked with him about Menuhin, the violin player. Menuhin had learned yoga from Iyengar and my friend was convinced that his play became boring since then as it was so balanced. I distract.

I just finished reading a book that surely gives my yoga life a new aspect. It's the book the "Journey Home" by Radhanath Swami. It's travel writing at its best. 40 years ago this young man traveled to India to find God. He took the land route. This was so that time back. I wanted to do this route, too 30 years ago, but gave up in Turkey and took a plane. India, the world was totally different (no PC, no mobile phone, a remark for the youngsters). Finally he arrived the borders and the officials didn't want to let him in as they had enough beggars. Richard, his name at that time cried to get in and he managed it. The author's life was threatened so often during his trip. He escaped from the attacks of human beings and snakes. If he was not attacked or ill he almost lost his life in the Ganges. Not only his life was in danger, men and women chased his virginity. This too, he defended successfully. This man wanted to find his yogic way, he wanted to find God and thought he would find it in India. Who and what should stop him??? He found his guru and his way, it was and is bhakti yoga. What is this, you might ask? It's the service for others. Being of service for others can be a joy that  probably more older people learn to enjoy. I'd even say it can be a gift at a certain age, when one realizes that one has something go give. The book was a page-turner. I recommended it for adventurer and for those who want to add another color to the yoga picture.

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