“Even a trashcan, taken with the most expert camera, at the prime angle, with the most favorable refraction light, can be beautiful!!!!” my teacher bellowed as he towered above us on the platform, mimicking an elegant, yet incorrect shape of a standing backward bend.
My ears perked up. Guilty as charged. I used to do these all the time before coming to India – a serious overworking of my lower back. Yikes.
He described to us what he had been observing last week in the open practice hall – lots of egos commanding the body to strive for beautiful shapes. “And then you go, you stand under a sunset, and have someone take your photograph to show to your friends” he elaborated with sarcasm as he mocked his body back into a comical, modeling shape. We all laughed, and yet were captivated by the curiously entertaining lesson.
He emphasized how these beautiful, yet incorrect backbends that often take place when one is practicing from ego, are actually harmful. Rather than spreading and stretching the cells, they stress out the abdominal organs, tighten the reproductive and urinary systems, and dry the life out of the structure we know as our body.
My teacher continued on in his lecture to challenge the Western ideals of a firm, rock solid body that is plastered all over the fitness media today.
Actually, when done correctly, asanas, or poses, keep the body extremely soft while completely active. As Guruji BKS Iyengar says, find the “relaxation in action” in each and every asana.
Life is fluid, moving, dynamic. Not hard, tight, stiff, solid, dead.
My teacher instilled the idea that instead of aiming for outward beauty, we must aim for the inward beauty of the asana, where everything is working efficiently and harmoniously. We must learn to see differently.
So enlightening. So much to learn. And suddenly I am curious to find out if this phenomenon is pervasive throughout the rest of our life as well. Does ego always lead to beautiful disasters?
Hmm. Best that we ask this lovely, cherry-red, abandoned umbrella – It is truly the most beautiful disaster I have ever seen. Taken by the talented TJ Malik @tjmalik.
These next three months are going to be fun.
- Wise baby.