Reflection: The Alchemical Fire of Yoga and Art

  In the Burning World issue of Parabola magazine, authors Laura Dunn and David Ulrich, write “Both [Yoga and Art] ask for an authentic search into the core of one’s being, to seek and cultivate a broader awareness, and to directly meet the many resistances within oneself.”  And so, I have gone on a journey into the possibilities of deep consciousness with the authors as they examine the connection between yoga and creativity practice – “an authentic search into the core of one’s being…” and like the many articles of Parabola magazine, I find myself in conversation with myself about the article and hopefully, with you.  So, before I begin, please consider turning to page 86 of the Burning World issue to explore this connection with me.   

  Yoga and art are passions for many Parabola readers.  I attend a rather rigorous yoga studio where initially I am viewed with awe (I am blessedly double-jointed and can slip into the lotus with ease) but then am quickly relegated to the remedial group for my aversion to inverted asanas.  And I am also a card-carrying member of MoMa and stand in front of Kandinsky and Chagall like a pilgrim before a sacred shrine.  And do not even mention Marina Abramovic; I was enthralled long before the bandwagon arrived.  Yet until I read the article, I could not have explained the connection between Yoga and Art because the connection had never really occurred to me.  But after the article, I am converted.  I see something profoundly important that I had not seen before and that is the gift of Parabola magazine.  

  So, I will offer one reflection inspired by the article.  And then I hope you will share your reflections with me on our new Parabola Magazine Discussion blog.  In the article, the authors write, “Asana must not be an escape where one practices only the pleasant asanas and avoids the difficult ones…We cook in the fire of austerity when we don’t run this way looking for gratification or that way hiding from disappointment.”  

  As a student, I had a violin teacher and a guitar teacher.  My violin teacher was a strict Austrian who always admonished me, “Elizabeth, there is no need to practice the easy passages, you have already mastered them.  Practice the difficult passages and then you will be an artist.”  My guitar teacher was the opposite.  He loved every easy passage I repeatedly played.  Of course, it was easy to love my guitar teacher.  His praise was effusive and to this day, I can still play the instrument whereas the violin eludes me after so many years.  Yet I know I am not a musical artist.  Indeed to have achieved mastery, I had to practice the difficult passages.  I had to cook in the fire of austerity.  I had to lift the veil of illusion and see myself as fully complicated and contradictory as I am and then, just maybe, I could have experienced the gods.

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