Sunday, February 8, 2009
Ananda: Finding Joy, Learning to Laugh, and Not Taking Ourselves TOO Seriously
Ananda is a state of complete bliss, sometimes achieved by experienced yoga practitioners. One never achieves ananda by perfecting any certain yoga posture. You may feel that you have accomplished something if you are able to understand the principles of and manifest a technical asana, however there will always be another asana that will be too hard.
Instead, we can use the asanas simply as tools to help us strengthen our bodies, find our breath, and hone our concentration, all of which will lead us to feel good and find similar joy as the blissed out yogis. Most everyone who has been to yoga, even a few times, has experienced this bliss, to some degree, upon rising from savasana, our resting pose. Bit by bit, we may see that despite life's challenges, there is much to be happy about. In fact, it may begin to feel that joy is our most natural state of being.
If a good sense of humor isn't listed in the Yoga Sutras as a pathway to our highest selves, it should be.
You know, we don't have to be so serious all the time. Take a room full of barefooted, lycra-clad, sweaty, heavy breathers and throw in some gymnastics and breakdancing, a few droning chants and there's a lot to laugh at. Especially because you know that every one in the room at sometime or other is experiencing gas anxiety . . .(you know who you are).
My favorite (and I'm guilty of this too) is to see the yogi "look-how-awesome-my-yoga-practice-is" photo performed by being photographed in some outrageous and death-defying yoga posture at the edge of a scenic cliff. How yogic is that? They'll be saying at my funeral, "he was doing yoga right up until the end. . . literally." Then in heaven, I'll have to sheepishly tell all the other people in line to get into The Pearly Gates specifically what stupid thing I did to end up dead. They'll be undoubetedly curious and want me to show them the pose. I'll tell them that I'd like to but that " . . um . . I'm not warmed up." I can see them looking at me and then taking a long look down and say, "well, maybe not yet."
There are all kinds of yoga poses we encounter in daily life. One of my favorites is the balance-intensive, Putyourunderwearon asana. Click here and comment on what your favorite daily-life yoga poses are.
If you're feeling down (or not) and want to read something really, really, funny about yoga check out this New York Times article called Guns And Yoga by Patton Oswald. My favorite line is, "Shooting guns and taking yoga on the same day was the biggest "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" moment I've had so far in my life."
Some people even practice "Laughing Yoga," where someone just starts laughing for no reason and it catches on until no one can stop. This happened to me last April. I couldn't stop laughing for a full 30 minutes. I think about the moment and it still makes me smile. Crazy!
Let's enjoy yoga this week.