Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In Which I Speak to the Importance & Primacy of Asanas
Movement is essential for the development of all brain functions: only organisms that move from one location to another require a brain; organisms that are stationary do not. (Paraphrased by Pat Ogden in Trauma & the Body, 2006, via A User's Guide to the Brain by John J. Ratey, 2002)
This quote is not intended to be metaphorical, though, like anything, it can be read that way. Rather, it's intended to be quite literal in that it's representative of some of the best and most recent understandings we have of our physical brains.
Of course, I am a Chick who does not believe we ever know what we think we know when it comes to the human body or the larger planet or the universe for that matter.
I think we are, actually, 100% prone to making asses of ourselves with Statements of Certainty. We won't know we are making asses of ourselves, most likely, as this decree will be pronounced after we are all ashes. History will, inevitably, make fun of us.
The reason this particular quote seemed important to me was the possible proof it provides in terms of the genius of yoga asanas.
Asanas often are looked down upon by yogis who consider themselves more spiritual than some of us. Be that as it may, asanas are still important to the Indian culture, the birth place of yoga.
(I will also point out, though, that all this rigmarole over the age of yoga and the "purity" of it is as silly as the same type of arguments in fundamentalist bible squabbles. Furthermore, yoga is NOT as old as and never will be as old as natural movement, otherwise known as dance. All forms of formal, structured movement come from this oldest, easiest, most natural movement of all. As soon as we could stand up, we started pounding drums with our hands and the earth with our feet. But I digress...)
Back to asanas.
Without movement, this quote scientifically asserts, our brains would not be what they are. Without movement, a toddler would not develop. There is a reason that walking and talking start to happen at similar moments. (For more of this, see the sources.)
Without brain development, of course, we could never sit in meditation and experience a Self, as illusory as some of us may think that is or not.
There would be no Spiritual Quest without highly functioning brains.
And there would be no highly functioning brains without moving our bodies. First.
Asanas are never, ever wasted, and though there are more ideal situations, I don't even care if you are doing them in a freaking GYM or in a park with logoed mats. All I care is that you are doing them.
Really, all I care about is that you are moving that beautiful body in some way that washes that beautiful brain in some freaking joy, because otherwise, we are just swimming in grief and anger in this world.