I found the class enjoyable, and quite useful in my ‘alignment’ problem, though I found it difficult to really dig deep with the spiritual side of the program given that I was one of a dozen in a crowded, sweaty studio. However, this may be a useful conduit to aid in focus on my little journey…
Westernized yoga is structured around the idea of being an alternative to exercise, but is still inclusive of promoting and enabling relaxation throughout the process. Complicating our use here in the US are conflicting processes in a religious context. Built upon predominantly Christian value sets, our fundamental practices stem from belief systems, rather than a more Eastern approach of aligning a spiritual and physical self. However, the popularity of yoga here in the US has led to discussions of more New Age approaches to meditation within Christian paradigms. It is all quite very interesting, and exposes just some of the roots of human civilization.
I was particularly taken by the reference to ‘chakras’ during my yoga class. Chakras (from Buddhism), or ‘force centers’ are said to be planes of energy within the body that can be harnessed physical, and spiritually. its perhaps not so coincidental that the 7 chakras typically discussed are aligned along our spinal column – the center of our physical body. Proper ‘alignment’ of our chakras keeps all in check, and keeps the individual functioning at an optimal level. My first introduction to chakras was several years ago – in a diving course no less. I was taking part in technical dive training and read some literature produced by Tom Mount, a pioneering force behind the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Diving (IANTD), who is also a strong proponent of various martial arts and meditative practices. To be honest, at the time, we took the subject of chakral alignment lightly and joked about it. Today, I see this very, VERY differently…
In exploration, where we are placing our physical selves in an unknown environment – often a harsh one – self discipline and mental clarity are needed above all else to get the job done. We need to be ‘aligned’ and in tune with ourselves at a level that is too often overlooked. part of this is coming to terms with our own mortality. Operating in a high risk environment, one needs to respect and value the situation, but not fear it.
I’ve had days underwater where all falls into place and find complete and utter peace with myself. All the equipment, training, proficiency, and what have you is just the vehicle to get there…but while there it truly is a place where mental, physical, and spiritual alignment is discovered and the picture is clearer than day.
Perhaps this clarity is what keeps me going back, and where I need to venture yet again to get out of this terrestrial Westernized rut.
Let’s go diving.