Once upon a time…I taught a particular method of yoga.
And it was good. I came to understand the benefits of working within a krama, or a particular order. As in–first you set a solid foundation; then you can reach to the moon and back.
First do this; then do that.
I got good at the application of a method. I’m grateful for that time. In some ways it served me well. In others, not so much.
Then I stopped teaching that method of yoga. I resigned for ethical reasons. I’d had no quibble with the method itself, and thought I would continue to teach the method, simply calling it something else. I’d thought that would be that.
But it was not that.
I have spend the years since indulging my curiosity and my agency. Trying on. Discarding. I have retained and I’ve replaced. I’ve kept what tools I deemed useful, and–dare I say it–procured better tools.
I’ve come to understand in a way I previously did not that alignment methods are not absolute. Oh, sure–I had already known that in my head, but I had not had that experience in my body.
(I may not have been quite 100% convinced in my head.)
Alignment methods are maps. They are maps for somatic travelers who seek holy grails concealed within the body. Grails are many. Each map delineates a particular grail–a particular constellation of somatic awareness.
O seek and ye shall find.
Thinking that there is merely one alignment method of yoga is like believing that there is only one constellation of stars in the sky. Of course, you already know that the stars are many, and there are infinite ways to draw connections between them. Luminous points of consciousness within the body, too–infinite. Infinite ways to map the patterns they can take.
It’s the difference between believing that all asana distills to Tadasana, aka anatomical neutral–and recognizing Tadasana as the latent leaping off point for all asana. (By the way, understanding the way that yoga poses revert to anatomical neutral is both important, and important in the order or understanding. First we do this; then we do that. First we walk; then we run. First we distill to Tadasana. Then–if we want to–we may expand from it.)
I have never particularly been driven by the idea of yogic unity. I take interconnection as my given. It’s the foundation; it’s the matrix of being. Are we not, after all, all evolved from the same star stuff? What has taken the universe billions of years to achieve is the taken-for-granted point of departure for each of us.
Lucky, lucky us.
It’s the diversity of experience–my own and others’–that’s interesting to me. It’s the difference between peering backward through time to recognize oak trees as the acorns they once were, and peering forward to glimpse the oak tree that has always been concealed within the acorn.
Perhaps this is not particularly meaningful to you but yesterday it hit me. It hit me hard while I was going 70 mph on I-95. My approach to the practicing and teaching of asana has FINALLY come truly to mirror my most fundamental philosophic point of view. It feels good.
It feels very, very good.
Not one method but many methods.
Not one map, one constellation, one oak tree. Many.
Even multiplicity is not my point, though. Not quite. My point lies in knowing that there are both infinite destinations and infinite routes. The skilled percussionist knows that a snare drum will not evoke the same kind of experience as the hand bell. (Apparently there are infinite ways to mix a metaphor, too.)
My point lies in knowing that even the destinations and maps that we really, really enjoy, are just constellations in a vast night sky. My point lies in knowing which destination you would like to visit, then having just the right map to get you there. My point lies in knowing that no matter how many destinations we draw maps for, there will always be both more destinations and more constellations and more maps.
My point is–where would you like to go?
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