Blog Archive

Friday, May 5, 2017

Function of yoga mat as a boundary


Yoga mat is becoming an essential item for modern yogis/yoginis.

But, when did it become popular?

Traditional yogis in India may not use mat…

I couldn’t identify the exact time.


Originally, yoga mat might come from practical needs; prevention of slip or comfortability on lying down postures.
Plus, the functions I will refer seem to be added consciously or unconsciously.

Boundary between yoga and others


Modern yogis who practice while live in social life use yoga mat as a boundary between yoga and others.

They set yoga mat for “sacred space”.
They set the time they are on yoga mat for “sacred time”.

The moment they stand on the mat, they are separated from gross and miscellaneous daily.
They are in “yogic mode” during the time they are on it.


Yoga mat, an artificial object, lies between yoga, the workings to be part of nature.
This can be unnatural and impure.

If I can, I want to use a mat made from natural materials so that it can return the earth.
(Recently, two of my friends pointed it out for me. It is embarrassing for me but I didn’t care about it when I purchased my mat.)

However, there is a merit due to the artificiality.

Yoga mat, an artificial item, can exist without any change from yesterday to today, from today to tomorrow (at least from macro viewpoint).

I, a social being, am a natural object which is always changing.
Sometimes my feeling is mess when I stand on the mat.

Yoga mat can bring me to usual state thanks to the “un-changeability”.
(It is similar to “unmoved mover” as Aristotle said. )

Incidentally, on my yoga mat there is a signature and message of my teacher J. Every time I stand on it, they remind me the power of yoga.



Boundary between self and others


Yoga mat functions as a boundary between self and others as well.

This fact is clear in yoga classes with many people.

Each of them secure “their own space” in the room.
Even if you don’t care about this personal space, you may hesitate to step into others’ space.

Many “boundaries” are made in yoga classes unconsciously…



Some people may assert their personality by color or design of mats. If so, it is also an important function.


Impossibility of “oneness”


By the way, the word “yoga” originally means “union”.

The goal of yoga includes unity between yoga and others or between self and others.
If so, I’d like to remove any boundaries we make unconsciously in the end.

Union, unity, oneness…
When the view of the world that is shown by these (above) words realizes, it may be the time when we don’t need yoga mat anymore.


Now we are in yoga time. Now we are not…My space is here. His space is there…

Hopefully, I will practice yoga as much as these distinctions are not problem, but it is difficult.

In reality, we cannot help making these boundaries so that we can do specific practices.

However, as long as we depend on the means; the use of yoga mat, and if I say more, asana, pranayama, and any kinds of techniques, we inevitably keep drawing boundaries.

So, I cannot jump for joy without reserve.
I’m feeling like always running with “training wheels” that I should discard someday.

L.Wittgenstein says,
  My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

I don’t know if someday I don’t need yoga mat, poses, and breathing techniques anymore.

If the time comes, it would be great.
If not, it is also good.


Yoga happens in the exercise named internal conflict; depending on many practice materials and at the same time trying to detach from them.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Admit that I feel dislike.

Unconditional love


This is the one of the ideal states of yogi.

Not to judge as good or bad, and to accept and love with no reasons.

Is it possible?

Since we were born, we have “judged” too much. It is said that we get the ability to distinguish between pleasure and displeasure, and they differentiate to “joy”, “sadness”, “anger”…

So, should we decrease these kind of judgements?

Ideally, yes, maybe.

However, we cannot “do” it. As you make efforts to do so, you will be annoyed.


We have nowhere to find “ideal state”!


Heart of yoga, which I have learnt, is said to have “non-dual philosophy”.

J.Brown, a senior teacher, usually says,

Dualistic yoga practice makes us painful.

In other word, if we set “ideal state” somewhere else, we have pain by the gap between the ideal and what we are now.


Therefore, if we seek “unconditional love” as an ideal state, we must realize that in reality we emotionally judge everything around us and have a guilty to yourself which do so.

When you face something you dislike, you feel pain by itself and simultaneously feel pain by how much you judge. Double pain!

For human beings, it is normal to dislike something as a natural feeling. (If you are a saint, don’t you?)

When you pretend to have “unconditional love” and to be stabled even if you suffer internally, you are not honest to yourself. It is a violence to yourself.


Love is not equal to “kindness”!


One day, I honestly told one guy that I have felt dislike for his behavior.

This is a normal thing, but I was about to forget to do so.

Maybe I misunderstood “love”. The word “love” usually implies kindness, but not necessarily.

Love is sometimes severe.


Even if we seek to be like a saint, we can only live as we are.

We have to be honest enough to face this inevitable fact. If you feel dislike by someone, tell your feeling frankly.
It may be the best way to tell “love” him or her.

By doing it, we could be more comfortable each other.

The state of “unconditional love” is impossible to seek by artificial effort.
If you hope so, there may be only one way.
To be as you are.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Theory of Continuation (by a normal guy)

Continuation is power. (This is a Japanese saying.)

We cannot get benefit without continuation when it comes to physical practice especially.

Why?

This is because human body is a matter that has homeostasis.

Once we get into habit, the body will try to sustain it as homeostasis.

If so, how do we firmly establish as a habit?

Let me think of “running”, one of the most common habits for example.

When I was a high school student, I ran playground every morning to improve myself as a football (soccer) player.

Sometimes I didn’t feel like running when I was tired off.

I could continue this habit, though. This is because of something moved me such us goals, teammates, etc.

Sometimes I was encouraged by words of successful athletes,and at other times I was stimulated by keen teammates…

These were, so to speak, magic to make me continue thinking “I will be able to get something great if I continue running!” I can run as long as the magic works.
When the magic was about to disappear, I desperately searched for materials of magic and cast a spell on myself again.


When the magic disappears


However, the moment we lost the last game of the football team, the habit suddenly came to an end.

Generally speaking, it is common for Japanese high school students to stop everything on sports after the last game and to start preparing for entrance exam of universities.

However, now I wonder, how come I could suddenly stop what I was able to continue such a long time? Wasn't it unnatural?

In conclusion, running was not so important for me that I could continue without the “magic”.
Running wasn't so natural for me that I could continue without something stimulated me.


Desire for “purity” and internal conflict



By the way, there is no day when I don’t practice yoga this year.


How do I, a very fickle person, continue this habit?

I don’t cast a spell on myself consciously.
I don’t search for benefits by yoga practice.
That’s why I can continue uneventfully like brushing my teeth.

I feel like saying above…

However,

My yoga practice is not so pure.
Am I doing “unselfish” practice without seeking benefits?

No, I cast a spell on myself unconsciously after all. I rely on magic.

I am stimulated by some great yogis, I read articles about benefits of yoga practice, and I sometimes try to remember some eccentric experiences in India.

This is how I am intoxicated by “myself” practicing yoga.

If you can practice without any magic or intoxicants, that’s beautiful.
But, is it possible?
Is it possible for human beings to have such purity?


 For me, not a sacred man but a normal guy, there is no use to assume the state of a saint.

It may be ideal to be able to practice without magic, but I have no choice but relying on magic.

Haruki Murakami, a Japanese famous novelist who continues running as a habit for many years, says,

There are few reasons to continue running, but there are a tons of reasons to stop running. (・・) 
Only we can do is to brush and sustain “few reasons” carefully.

Unfortunately, yoga practice hasn’t become natural for me to do without any reasons. That’s why I need to be intoxicated by some reasons or magic.

I sometimes think “I want be such a nice person” when I meet wonderful yoga teachers, I am intoxicated by spiritual atmosphere in yoga room, and I seek stylishness in yoga asanas…

Some reasons I rely on can be impure.

However, I may not be able to continue without these factors.


I am doing something strange, to continue using magic to become independent of magic.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

To Notice Graefulness

You find it grateful when you lose it.

When you take it for granted, you cannot realize how much respectful it is.

(“Arigato”, means “thank you” in Japanese, originally means “hard to exist”. This word shows us that we regard what is hard to exist as grateful. )

However, there are also something we cannot be aware of it after we lose it.

Mark Whitwell and J.Brown, senior teachers of “Heart of Yoga”, told us when I took teacher training;

You are the extreme intelligence of life. 
You are perfect as you are.

Skype chat with Mark


Honestly speaking, these words may be hard to accept for some people.

It was hard for me to understand completely.

On the process of understanding, I thought like this;

I am breathing. My heart is beating. The blood is flowing in my body.
I exist. This world exists and I am in it.

It is sad but we cannot realize them when we lose them due to their nature.

Therefore, we need to notice what happens right here right now.

Only “notice”, but what makes us happy is often the very notice.

What we call happiness usually comes from “notice” something we have overlooked.


The way to notice


However, I know that some people don’t like this kind of preaching.

The conclusion of Heart of Yoga is simple.

Just practice. You don’t have to listen.
Breathe, and move.
You feel comfortable.
This is enough.

If anything, realize that you exist as a life at the moment.

This kind of workings happen in yoga.

Off course, the life is there and exist as the extreme intelligence of life even if we don’t care.

Whether we notice it or not.

It seems small, but creates a big difference on your happiness.

I don’t think yoga is only way to realize how grateful the life is.

Yoga is my favorite and that’s all.

Uneventful practice

Your practice is always different.

This sentence is usually used to encourage people to practice yoga.

This is sure, but sometimes it will be strange when we emphasize this aspect too much.

It is to inquire “differences”.

Life itself, not only when we practice yoga, is unrepeatable.

Even if you don’t “make difference”, you are to “be different”.

So even if you can realize differences form yesterday, it doesn’t mean you are special today. Or, you are always special.

I’d like to say that it may be a bit arrogance to expect difference on every day practice.

When we emphasize “difference” too much, we tend to seek plain differences unconsciously.

We human beings are always changing, but we have strong homeostasis and we don’t change a lot soon.

Seeking difference too much may make us create “a new story” without deep realization.

“My breath is deeper than yesterday! I’m better!” something like this.

I’m fickle and I tend to do so…

However, it is more important to sustain practice every day even if you cannot find any change.

It is beautiful if you can find something new every day, though.

If you wonder, you can try to practice in the completely same way as yesterday you did. You cannot become same in any way.

Changes always happen regardless whether we notice them or not. Even if we cannot feel, we are changing as long as we live.

You don’t have to practice with fresh feeling all the time. Just practice uneventfully.


I’ll stand on my yoga mat with this decision.