The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life — B.K.S. Iyengar
Consider this: When you look at nature or the night sky, does the universe appear to be a compulsively purposeful thing? Or is it more like music?
What about yoga? Is there a greater point to touching your toes or sticking a handstand? Yes! Because it's good for you, some say.
Okay, yoga is extraordinarily beneficial for both physical and mental wellness, which is reason enough to show up on the mat. And yet, no person is healthier than the next person because they can hold a half-moon pose for 10 breaths.
So what are we really accomplishing when we find our flow on the mat? I think this is the wrong question, because I believe that yoga — and life — is more of a musical thing.
As British-American philosopher Alan Watts often discussed, the greatest music that both West and East have produced is entirely meaningless. There is no point or objective — if there was then the greatest composers would be those who reached the finale the quickest. Pure music conveys no social or political message. It is not meant to achieve anything. Rather, as Watts said, "it is pure delight in complex orders of sound."
The Hindu philosophy of the cosmos mirrors Watts' interpretation of music. As described by Fritjof Capra in The Tao of Physics:
The basic recurring theme in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God—"sacrifice" in the original sense of "making sacred"—whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes again God. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play.
Lila is an ancient concept, and as with most ideas birthed thousands of years ago, has many interpretations. At its core, Lila is way of describing all reality as a magical and divine play of spontaneous creation, destruction, and re-creation.
If you subscribe to this philosophy then you may be able to belay your fears, anxieties, and queries about the meaning of life. Just as when listening to music you do not stop to ask what it all means, "you just dig the sound," to quote Watts again.
In the same way, the Hindu or the yogi does not get tangled in technical questions about whether or not any of this matters. He or she just flows. They dance the spiral never ending.
They dance with a twinkle in their eye, embracing fully their unique role as a participant in an enormous and marvelous musical performance. They rejoice in knowing that they are an unfoldment of the big bang, a manifestation of what there is.
In one moment you're grooving and spiraling upward, and in the next you're curled up in a pretzel on the floor. You go up and you go down along with everything else. It's very wavy (bro).
This all might come off as spiritual hogwash to you, which is cool. But even if this isn't your style, perhaps you might consider treating your experience on the yoga mat as playful.
Being playful in this sense does not mean that you approach yoga unconsciously or without intention. It means simply that you enjoy the show, and the part you play in it.
Move your body, breathe lavishly, feel the expression of each pose, bring awareness to every cell in your body, immerse yourself in the experience, be fully engaged in what you are doing at that moment and do it as best you can. But if you start huffing and puffing or gripping and clenching then take an intermission. Turn it down. Come back to your breath. And re-join the dance when you're ready.
Banner Photo: STS9 by Android Jones