Apocalypse Now

Like many people at the moment, I watched a few episodes of “The Walking Dead”. It’s a genuinely cheerless, but very gripping, account of an end of days. I had to stop watching it – it was too guttural for me. But it did make me wonder what “apocalypse” might really mean, and this article describes how that relates (in my world) to a daily Yoga practice.

I do Yoga asana (postures) differently now because I know more. But the way I used to do them wasn’t wrong. Doing it that way lead me to my current setup. My current setup isn’t right; as I change inside, my outward expression changes too. Class by class, practice by practice, I incrementally refine what I do. I approach an “ideal” posture.

Likewise success and mistake interweave to make my life whole and – hopefully – constructive. I work towards my ideal lifestyle. In trouble, I look back to happier times. Somehow, one thing led to another to end me up here… Conversely, when all’s good I can look back at less happy days. Some event, some time seems to be the turning point when things started going right.

But there is no ideal posture. There are just ways of moving that work well for my body today. Time spent refining these enhances health and vitality. Of course there are also ways of moving that don’t work well for me. Time spent on these can lead to injury. I know the difference – the first is hard work, the second is frustrating.

And there are so many postures we can practice. Together, they explore every nook and cranny of the human frame. And even if I do all of them, I’m still me. Maybe what they really teach is that we can always be ourselves, in this present moment.

People come to Yoga in lots of different ways. The core offering of the practice is svadhyaya – self-study. For instance, looking at media ads, it seems society encourages people to be slim so that they are attractive to others. I feel the message can come across as: “Control your weight or you will be offensive to us”. People who come to Yoga to lose weight or to keep weight off might conclude that their waistline cannot make them offensive. The true motive of the desire to over-eat can be uncovered, in the svadhaya that comes with the headspace that Yoga practice offers.

The etymology – the language origin – of the word “apocalypse” is “reveal” or “uncover”. In a very real sense, a Yoga practice represents apocalypse. All that was held so close as true or good or “doing the posture right” dissolves next to false, wrong or not getting it right. This can happen continuously, or in staccato fashion over time. However it happens, it’s apocalypse right here, right now; as the body and mind settle out of the confusion that got us twisted up in the first place, space to rethink and reframe events and actions opens up.

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