Recently, (as in over the past 6 years), I have begun a discovery of some of the 'quieter' Yoga disciplines (namely Restorative and Yin) and, in studying and practicing these disciplines had a little bit of a revelation... slowing things down was good for my muscle-bound body (namely upper-body and shoulders). The soldiers that are (dare I say were?) my shoulders had begun to release and relax, my heart had begun to pour open (this is a BIG deal!) and my hips broke like a levy one fine day! I walked through space as though I had a new pair of moon boots on, a bounce to my step that was never released fully prior to this, despite years of firey, heat-inducing yoga practices; like ashtanga and dynamic vinyasa flow. No relentless number of suyra namaskar had been able to do for my body what some quiet but determined and very very deep work had done in less time. For the first time ever, I could enter into poses like headstand and full-wheel without feeling 'clenched' or locked up in certain muscle groups. These deep, slow, meditative practices had taught me to let go (or be dragged). They allowed me time to 'look at myself' and figure some stuff out, and after hating it for awhile, I had really started to dig it.
So I taught it, and people liked it, or so I thought as the class in mention was always full and the faces were regular. I felt good about allowing others the time to look deeply at themselves, and to look deeply at the asana or gesture they were in, as it is an expression of the self also. I liked that they seemed to like it too. Until the bubble popped. I was reminded of what I already knew, which is that the collective WE in North America (The West) have this idea of the body that as an object (and object in the West means consumable - a product) and that energy means movement, at a certain pace and vigor, through space. There is a destination (the end of the class?) and while on the journey (on your mat?) there is an apex (the literary crisis/climax); a mountain to climb, something to obtain. A goal. I guess in all my blissful surrender to the Yin, I had simply forgotten where I was. That producing energy means moving quickly, from point a to point b. OUR science tells us this... An object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion at constant velocity, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Should Yoga be a class, and should the journey begin 'as a wave, warming up to a crest and then winding down' as it was describe to me. Should Yoga exist outside of the walls of a studio and perhaps, if you are lucky Yoga may enter into your practice while you breath, in a moment, in a gesture, whether in movement or not, whether in the studio or driving in your car one sunny afternoon on your way home from work? If that later is relevant, than I ask you, what does fitness have to do with Yoga? My unbalanced force was the reminder that my Yoga is not fitness and that this concept of 'fitness' as purely physical is yet another way of consuming 'body' as a product or object to be obtained.