You know that saying, "There are no small parts, only small actors?" Well, after seeing the Tripsichore Yoga Theatre proformance, I'm convinced it could be applied to yoga.
One theme during the performance made a big impression on me: If we could only get past the stiff, robotic way of thinking about asana and extend yogic principles into our lives off and on the mat, anyone is capable of having a beautiful and inspiring practice.
Whether you practice yoga on a stage for hundreds or in alone on your own livingroom floor, every practitioner has the potential to do his or her part to inspire, uplift, and make the world a better more beautiful place.
For the first half of the show, I was just thrilled and amazed at the strength, flexibillity, and ease of movement of Edward Clark and the two ladies on stage. The movements were fluid and complex; the choreography was beautiful; the music and the backdrop were lovely. I completely missed what they were expressing because I was so awe-struck by the glory of it all.
Thankfully, it began to make sense when they brought a yoga mat to center stage. The music became choppy and mechanical, and the yogini/actress went through two fast, rigid Sun Salutes, a couple of Triangle Poses (where she counted to five with her hands to demonstrate she was just waiting for it to be over), then she plopped into Savasana. This is when I stopped looking at the stage with my big, impressed saucer eyes and I actually related to what I was seeing.
Who hasn't been in that place in our lives and in yoga class--just go through the motions so we can get to something else? This is like the antithesis of yoga, of course, because in these moments we're anything but present.
When the yogini moved away from the yoga mat, she went back to practicing beautiful, advanced postures, but when she went back to the mat, her movements were robotic once again. It was a subtle reminder to me that yoga should be about personal exploration, not just an exercise.
We hear people preach about extending yoga into our lives all the time, but seeing it take place before me on a stage was so much more powerful. It makes it a lot harder to think, "Oh, that was meant for the person beside me! My practice isn't stiff and robotic!"
It also reminded me that even the most advanced practitioners probably started with the basics: Sun Salutations and Triangle.
I went to the performance expecting to be amazed, entertained, and inspired--and I wasn't disappointed. But I came away with a refreshed perspective on my yoga practice. I am so thankful for that.
Although most of us will never be able to hold a foot behind our head while someone else does a handstand on our back (I was cringing through that because it looked incredibly painful), those of use with tighter hamstrings have a different, but equally important role to play. No matter how small our efforts may seem, they can only contribute to a calmer, more uplifted society.
Photo credit: Susan Slattery