may spotlight on: tadasana body, savasana brain

Our fragile little brains are constantly being bogged down with “ideals.” By this, I mean we are receiving a stream of messages — from the world we live in, from friends and colleagues, from our own deep-rooted memories and experiences — about who and what we’re supposed to be, and when and how.

For example, you’re an ideal mother. You’re sweet, a modern-day June Cleaver in heels (or wedge booties, since you’re an on-trend mama), devoted to feeding your children only organic vegetables and homemade hummus. The next moment you’re a fierce lioness, guardian of your “No iPad at the dinner table” policy, a rule that’s harsh, but fair. You’re gentle and loving, and at once swift and justice-abiding.

Let’s say you also work in an office. As an ideal employee, you’re committed to your tasks and to being on time and being a team player. You’re smart and sophisticated, and somehow you’re also really really fun, playing hooky and taking 2-martini lunches every now and then with your girlfriends. You’re dedicated to work, serious work, and also hilariously fun-seeking.

And speaking of your girlfriends, you’re a perfect friend. You have just enough time to split a cupcake with a different pal each night, and also time to work off that half of a dessert at PowerBootCampExpress, right before heading home to prepare healthful yet irresistible homemade meals and getting into bed to read a few chapters of an important novel and then getting a solid 8 hours. You’re an ideal.

Ideals exist in the yoga community too. As yogis, we need to be lithe and limber and physically fit with impeccable posture and the flattest abs. We’re also meant to have extensive knowledge in ancient texts and Sanskrit and yoga theory, but with a practical understanding of how it applies to our modern lives. And we’re supposed to look like we’re constantly living in bliss, in a state of pure calmness and ease (despite our insecurities and angsts and the lines at Whole Foods). The yogic “ideal” is the best of everything: strength and flexibility, calm and energy, connected and detached, all at once. Yogis mask this seemingly impossible feat with language like “being balanced” (you won’t ever hear a yogi talking about being “ideal,” but being “balanced” is something you hear all the time).

Since this month we’re focussing on Tadasana (Mountain Pose) in the body and Savasana (Relaxation Pose) in the brain, I’m presenting two opposites not as a way to “achieve” (another no-no word in yoga, one does not achieve) perfection and balance and idealism, but as a way to bring body and brain to the same level. There’s a misperception that the body is a lesser vessel than the mind, that body is low and mind is high, that spiritual practices take precedence over physical ones. I’m proposing a shift in perception, to say that caring for and nurturing body can be an act of spirituality profound and powerful. Your body, after all, is a temple, didn’t you know?

Tadasana body requires some work; no one ever obtained a Tadasana body in Savasana. But you can access a Savasana brain in a Tadasana body. Movement, strength and stretch, breath, blood, heartbeat. These are the visceral, material parts of your soul. What better reason could there be to practice?

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2 responses to “may spotlight on: tadasana body, savasana brain

  1. Love, love, love this post! “Tadasana body, Savasana mind” made me think of smth. I think that most of us, yoga teachers included focus a lot more on obtaining Tadasan body because everyone sees it and not so much on Savasana mind (no one can check what your mind looks like). By nature’s mean trick though, it is almost impossible to maintain a true Tadasan body without the Savasana mind. Or it will be one damn tense body! I learned it the hard way when my body decided to break down after too much working out and not enough relaxation. We need to relax deeply to loose weight easily, to start running faster, or to get stronger. Things come easier when you are relaxed. Instead of pushing through, you start floating through things and challenges:)

    • Thanks so much for your perspective, Nadya. 🙂 I couldn’t agree more…I feel like we abuse our bodies in so many ways even when we think we’re doing it good. Crazy diets and fasts, overdoing exercise, not sleeping well…we’ve completely lost touch with our bodily intuition.
      And then even some yogis look down on people who are concerned about weightloss or physical appearance/condition, like it’s a “lowly pursuit” compared to studying texts or meditating. This is also too bad.
      I think next month’s focus will be “Tadasana brain, Savasana body.” Hmmmm…interesting, huh? 🙂

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