Move over Wright brothers…long before your wings soared over Kill Devil Hills yogis across the globe were flying on their mats.
I’m not speaking of levitation or the all to mind bending tales of apparition touted by yogis such as Paramahansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a yogi . I’m still not sure how much stock I put in those accounts, and while i’d never assume the role of denying the possibility of these ideas i’d also never put myself in the place to defend them. I am however speaking of arm balances and acrobatic inversions seen in references such as B.K.S Iyengar’s Light on Yoga the pentacle (in my humble opinion) of asana databases.
The amazing thing about yogic flight is that when approached with a judgement free mind and a light hearted sensibility they can help us connect more and more with a deep well of joy and bliss. As we ground down through our hands and lift up the parts of us that usually serve to stabilize we gain a whole new perspective on life. Rigidity of body, mind, spirit BE GONE!
The important thing to realize is that these poses take time and dedication, and if approached as a goal to serve the ego’s need to succeed or “be the better yogi” one will never realize their full potential. Lets be honest, most of us won’t be flying in astavakrasana on the cover of yoga journal so why focus so much on what it looks like to your neighbor? Instead, focus on the internal compass. How these poses make you feel both physically and on that deeper, unzipped level of sweet vulnerability and strength all rolled into one dualistic mix.
Interested in exploring more on your mat? Check out Kathryn Budig’s Challenge Pose Blog on Yoga Journal online. She has a great way of explaining the anatomy and function of these poses. Also, check out Iyengar’s Light on Yoga and surf through the pages to land on some really amazing pics and descriptions. Finally, go to classes with an experienced teacher, one who is constantly learning and growing and can help you to do the same (see “never trust a teacher without a teacher“).
I leave you with some southern wisdom…
The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe. ~Mark Twain, “Roughing It”