About the body – Speaking in Paradigms

Paradigm: From Merriam Webster: : a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated the Freudian paradigm of psychoanalysis broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

In the course of my early yoga career I learned at least three different combinations of feet positions in Trikonasana.  It seemed everyone was teaching something different.  Couldn’t we all just settle on one right way?  I pressed my mentors for an explanation and they allowed my frustrated questions to just fly past them. I determined which of those was “correct” and advocated it heartily.  But as my journey continued I learned that various foot positions have their own logic within certain schools where they are taught. They are reflections of each yoga schools paradigm of the body.  But the logic won’t necessarily hold in a school with a different paradigm. 

There is the western science view of the body, the Indian view of the body (based on energy, tradition, or a particular lineage), there is the American pop culture point of view of the body (based on? who knows) or my mother’s point of view about the body.  There is the Chinese medicine view of the body, the macrobiotic view of the body, the Barbara Brennan school view of the body. The surgical view of the body, the chiropractic view of the body. The variety is endless. 

I had one client who made a clear decision with his wife that they were going to stick to the straight Western science understanding of the body in all circumstances and that would govern their decisions.  It was a conscious choice.  I had a bodywork teacher who used western scientific language to describe the nature of traditional energy medicine to his students – the resulting vision of the body and it’s place in the universe is deeply wise and well considered.  When I began practicing, my body was this unruly thing that I wished was more elegant, more beautiful, more manageable, more comfortable and less of a bother – it was a paradigm of dislike.  As I continued my practice that point of view transformed into understanding the body  as a reflection of my emotional well being, and later still as a field of interwoven energies which could be used to heal.  I now understand it as a manifestation within the vast field of consciousness and an opportunity to evolve. 

It doesn’t really matter which point of view we take about the body when we practice, but it is important to explore what our point of view is when we are making choices about our practice.  How are we relating to our bodies? From what point of view and why?

Yoga can work with all these differing paradigms, and it can be beneficial to explore how our experience changes with differing views. I encourage you to consider in your practice this week…how is it that I understand my body?  Scientifically?  Intuitively? Mechanically?  Kinesthetically? Emotionally? Some combination? How do I experience it right now?  How do I want to experience it moving forward? Notice when you are taking class what point of view the class is constructed from, and notice the nature of the result you get and how you feel.

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