The Beauty of "As Is"
So I tell the story of Krishna the butter thief to some of my classes. It goes like this:
Krishna is the incarnation of Vishnu born to avenge an evil king who had killed off all of his earthly brothers and sisters. To protect him, he was sent to live with an adoptive family. They didn’t know who he was but they knew he was unusual. He was blue, for one thing, and would say these strange wise things. But he was also an, active mischievous boy who loved to eat butter more than anything else. He would sneak into houses and eat the butter and break the pots. Like, not polite it about it at all. One day he was caught and his mother tried to get him to open his mouth because it was full of butter. But when he opened it what she saw was the universe.
I love this story because it illustrates the perfection of imperfection— the universe hiding in our human fault lines.
The first Yoga Sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Sanskrit text which is considered the philosophical basis of yoga can be translated as:
To me this is the heart of practice. We begin now, to recognize, accept, and enter what is present.
The word “yoga” means “union”, or, to “yoke.” Yoga is both the experience of our own innate wholeness and the practice of reunifying what may seem to be opposite, conflicted, or broken.
There are both dualistic theories and interpretations of yoga --which focus on transcending the body and the human experience; and nondualistic theories—those which focus on the experience of the body and the human world as vehicles of wholeness.
The Yoga Sutras can be interpreted from either perspective.
My way of practice is very much through the nondualistic lens. My belief is that the body is to be celebrated and listened to, and that the senses are anchors to deeper experience. Though the physical poses are just one aspect of yoga- Patanjali’s Sutras describe 8 Limbs, from ethics to poses to breathwork to meditation- the physical self is our primary instrument.
From this perspective, shaming the body for feeling, wanting, hurting or taking pleasure has no place. The discipline becomes about harnessing awareness to uncover strength and softness simultaneously rather than as opposites. Obstacles or limits are simply part of the experience to be explored. Acceptance is recognized as the first step of transformation