Yoga Poetry of the Body
The dialogue between Rodney Yee and Nina Zolotow’s in “Yoga Poerty of the Body” draws to mind the way that the body itself works in Yoga. The bones and muscles work together, creating a gravitational force starting from the inside to outward motion.
While the conversation touches upon some pretty serious topics such as death and suicide, there remains a lightness to it as they gently prod each other towards their own personal truth about what Yoga means. There is a parallel between Nina and the bones of the body, she is self-protective and pliant. Yee, on the other hand, is perpetually stretching the reaches of the philosophic journey through yoga. He reaches cognizant of his own limits, such as the idea that Yoga no longer brings him hope. Just as the muscles of the body are constantly changing, he is aware that although he was formerly transformed by yoga, it no longer has that effect on him. Nina, however, prefers to relate to Yoga on less of a spiritual level, presumably because she senses it could fail her. So, she looks to yoga for strength.
Yee suggests that men look to Yoga for flexibility, that which is opposing to their nature, and women look similarly for strength–he supposes that women are not generally taught to be strong. Although a wide assumption, it makes a nice poetic flow to the book and ties it all together that here is a conversation between a woman and a man and their polar expectations from their practice.
Discovering a “visceral” state of present awareness cultivated by Yoga, Yee ultimately describes the essence of Yoga as vitality born of the bridge breathed into the nexus of Body and Mind. It is by changing the patterns of the body through opening in postures that leave us vulnerable (opening our legs for example, organs exposed) in strange positions, counter to what we have been taught to do, that we are able to change the patterns of the mind. Although Nina denies that her Yoga is transformative, she is a student of a teacher who undoubtedly infuses this philosophy within the the practice. And, she does agree with him that psychiatric counseling falls short without the opening of the neurological pathways on a cellular level through moving the body to create kinetic memory. A stoic, yet noteworthy 360 degree reverse from her original statement that Yoga does not evoke emotion in her.
Yee, representative of the male energy of life force, compliments Nina, who, like the moon is the life force of the male energy and both illuminate one another. She prefers to be a silent witness of her practice rather than force any attachments or outcomes to it. Yee exalts in the mystery of life and how it is unlikely through billions of years that the Earth was created and life was formed allowing humans to breathe and move about, yet he senses that he is no longer transformed or will attain a spiritualy higher level, he is content with Gratitude. They both are drawn to the qualities of the other. Nina slowly gives in the the idea of letting go, and realizes that it is only within her writing that she is able to do this. She gradually steps into Yoga in phases. Yee fell for Yoga and rose to a level of celebrity status, yet remains humble and consistent to his principles.
The most interesting aspect of the book is the idea of the kinetic rewiring of the mind as a result of chaining muscle memory. It is a very clear way to explain why, after regular practice we are able to release old thought patterns. I have personally forgotten to set intentions within my practice that are more meaningful and less practical as a matter of course. I am glad to have read this to be reminded that it is a good practice to keep the mind communicating with the body. When I return to creating an intention for the practice, I more fully experience the sense of Gratitude for the Miracle of Life we are so fortunate to have been given. It begins as a sense of gratitude for having the time and space to do the practice and extends into the day or evening after the practice. I can see it on the faces of others in the room, and in my own reflection in the mirror. Eyes shine bright and there is a soft glow to all that is.