Monday, August 9, 2010

The Clearest Recipe

I watched Ashtanga, NY and Enlighten Up! back-to-back. I stayed with Ashtanga, NY until the end but it didn't really capture my attention the way Enlighten Up! did. There was a part of me that felt like Ashtanga just looks too difficult but it was interesting watching the documentaries back-to-back because a few people were in both films including Guruji.

Karen Churchill, Enlighten Up! director, has been making documentaries for nine years and practicing yoga for seven. She feels that yoga can transform people spiritually and physically and says that the most peaceful and purest moments of happiness that she has experienced have been on her yoga mat. She polls others about why they do yoga. Rodney Yee said yoga:
Engages totality of who I am as a human being.
Churchill's novice yogi is Nick Rosen, a 29-year-old journalist.

Like most yoga students, my starting point is the physical. In a lot of ways, physical fitness has been the clearest recipe for happiness that I've found in life.
Ninety days into the yoga project, Nick goes to visit Norman Allen, an Ashtanga yoga master who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. At one point, Allen tells Nick: you don't do nothing for the small self. (0:32:08) And Nick replies:

That's a tall order, Norman. Pretty much everything I do is for my small self. I'm hungry. I'm horny. I'm jealous. Whatever...

When Nick travels to India, another guru tells him almost the opposite:

You should feel the importance of yourself. You are the most important person. (108:09)
Frankly, I think both sentiments are true: you should be altruistic but you also need to make sure that you take good care of yourself.

Also, I've always loved that Shakespeare quote: to thine own self be true. While Churchill is seeking spirituality through yoga, Nick is not and because of this reality, Churchill sometimes gets frustrated with Nick. Churchill doesn't realize that old truth that you cannot change anyone else or, in this case, have someone else get out of yoga what you expect to get out of yoga.

It's also true that while Nick says he's not seeking spirituality, he decides not to stay in India for longer because he suddenly starts yearning to spend time with his family.

Toward the end of Nick's journey he has many realizations:

I think it (yoga) makes you inherently more compassionate, more patient, more understanding...(1:14:20)

I agree. I also really like what Rosen said about physical fitness and happiness and to answer Churchill's question: Who do you do yoga?

I do yoga for flexibility and to calm my mind. What about you?


  1. It has definitely calmed my mind and also helped me really listen to my body.


  2. I've never been into yoga, but I like reading and thinking about it! Does that count? Seriously though - I'm glad that you find it beneficial.

  3. I've been doing yoga for the past two weeks or so. I've never been that good at it, but I'm trying to gently get back in shape after surgery and not hurt myself. It's crazy how quickly your body will respond with yoga. I'm loveing it.

  4. @Angela,

    I love the mind calming aspect of it too and that's cool that you are more in tune with your body because of yoga.


    You're reading about yoga, hunh? Perhaps you are preparing for when you try it out. ;)


    Glad that your body is responding to yoga AND that you're enjoying it...