My Yoga Diaries – Session 5: Yin

Allistair Santiago

CS_yin5_03.25.09.jpgLet me take a moment to gripe. Well, maybe gripe is too strong a word. Let me take a moment to niggle.

Thus far, I think I can commend myself for having kept an open mind about Yoga. I went, I saw, I surprisingly enjoyed it. But that doesn’t mean I appreciated every aspect of yoga.

This is more of a personal issue. You see, I’m not what most people would call a spiritual person. I would call myself either strongly agnostic or mildly atheistic. While my metaphysical beliefs aren’t entirely solidified, I’ve never personally experienced anything beyond the physical or mental. And, since I don’t believe in a spirit or soul – by which I mean I have never seen evidence of oneI find it difficult to even characterize something as “spiritual.” So the kind of spiritual connections encouraged by my yoga instructors seems unattainable. Well, not unattainable per se, but incomprehensible.

It’s not that I believe they’re chasing phantoms, I simply think that we have different terms and ideas for the same experiences. What you might term spiritual, I call physical. My thoughts and feelings aren’t anything more mysterious than the net neurochemical action of my nervous system. It’s a complex dynamic, our experience of which is limited to the bottom line. We don’t feel the firing of millions of neurons. We don’t notice the transfer of excitatory and inhibitory chemical signals in our brains. And we aren’t readily aware of the background effects of a multitude of hormones colouring our consciousness every minute of every day. Where, then, does the physical end, and the mental, emotional and spiritual begin?

In every Yoga class I’ve been to, it seems like everyone else is far more in touch with their spiritual side, more confident in this division. In my curiosity – and perhaps boorishness – I overheard some students speaking with the instructors about “spiritual awareness” and the “balancing of energies.” They also spoke of a “third eye” in each of us. Now, these are all words that I know. I’ve heard them all in one context or another and consider myself intimately familiar with their common meanings. Overheard in this context, however, they were starkly foreign – a blank. In my world, I wasn’t aware of any sort of spirit; energy was without mass and therefore couldn’t be balanced. And by my last count, two was still the max in the eye department.

The same thing happens during class. Every now and then, an instructor will say something like “allow your third eye to relax,” or “reach out with your energy.” Honestly, I find that weird – incomprehensible and weird. And they usually say it in the same way they say “…and raising your left leg…” They say it as though it’s something familiar – something everyone knows how to do. And the rest of the class always seems to get it. I, however, am entirely in the dark, and will likely remain so.

It’s not that I don’t respect spirituality. The vast majority of the class seems to be on board with these notions. They’ve got to be on to something, and it is simply a matter of understanding them within my own context. Until then, however, I find much of the spiritual talk to be mildly alienating. Occasionally interesting, but mildly alienating.

My Yoga Diaries:

[tags]spirituality, balance of energy, third eye, spiritual awareness, spilit[/tags]

One Response to “My Yoga Diaries – Session 5: Yin”

  1. Talin says:

    Hey its me again! I hope I’m not annoying you but I cant believe I have the same issue! LOL! I do consider myself atheist thus I used to think yoga was not for me as it clearly made references to “the true one”, “the great power”, etc. I am not at all spiritual. doing yoga at home,alone, is the advantage of avoiding such experiences you’ve had though on the dvds there are mantras and signings addressed to “the true one” which at first I found ridiculous but now find fun and relaxing. I have even started a discussion topic on facebook about atheist yoga! and i got some interesting responses most of them saying that its not necessary to believe in god in order to do yoga. anyway after some time I am beginning to believe in the energy system and how it works through the body according to yoga. I am even thinking that yoga is making a spiritual person out of me! its a bit confusing.

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