The assumptions of my inherited culture: Euro-American, Lutheran-Christian, mental dualism, WASP, have shaped my perceptions and limit my ability to truly inhabit yoga’s culture. From this conditioning, I’m positioned like a hungry-man at a feast; I taste the food, but the flavor escapes me.
My play to be a yogi brings me to discernment where the contraries press me to awareness and lead me to examine the how and why of fate. How did I, a Midwestern male, end up lying on my stomach – top and bottom of my spine arching up at the direction of an ancient Indian mind/spirit/body science – impersonating an Egyptian tomb-protector? My inhale takes me to the mystery of purushamrigasana, a figure with the face of Pharaoh that we call sphinx.
Each yogi stretches and lifts at the direction of the teacher: man, woman, Asian, African, American, and each one contributes to the curriculum growing into a great melting pot of diversity and energy. This restless American pastiche is soothed by the flavor of an ancient culture, and in the yoga room, we become part of its recipe.
The seekers are everywhere and I praise them. They take off with tender wings to do asana as if they were nimble dancers or the stony sphinx. On the surface, we are childlike; but with each asana, with each breath, I witness a hope in reaching and lifting, learning and growing.
I see them, and note they are living embodiments to mystery and mythology; I see them as material and matter, and I see them doing yoga from the ground up. And I am certain that within the lifting and landing, each of us will rise up and seal into Self the mighty words from Iyengar, “I say, in all asanas, ascend to descend, descend to ascend.”
“The Immutable is never seen but is the witness; it is never heard but is the Hearer; it is never thought, but is the thinker; is never known, but is the knower. There is no other witness but this, no other knowers but this.” Brihadarananyaka Upanishad
“As you awaken your subtle heart, you embody the archetype of the Sphinx as a doorway to understanding life’s deepest mysteries.” The Yoga Toolbox.