Pragmatic Yoga

Last week I was having dinner with a few old business partners and discussing some of the things we are up to these days.  They included design thinking, nondualism, and yoga.

At one point, Tony said, as he typically does: “OK, all this stuff is great.  But how are you applying this to everyday life?”

I was the one talking about Yoga, so, I started to rattle off some benefits:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduced back and joint pain
  • Breathing calmly in stressful situations

That last one lead into nondualism, which Tony has been exploring lately.  I guess I have been also.  Javier?  Well, he’s working for a design firm, and, I’ve been looking more into design thinking.  So, they all started to come together.

It was a fun evening catching up with Javier and Tony.  But that night, I had a hard time falling asleep, reflecting that my thoughts on pragmatism around yoga were weak.

Tony had a great example on pragmatic nondualism.  It’s a personal story, so, I’m not going to share it.  But the bottom line is, Tony truly took an abstract concept and used it to make life better.  Wham!  That’s nondualistic thinking right there?

Anyways, my answers were weak.  That’s what was keeping me up.

First, I started to explore this word: “pragmatic

Google seems to think it means, “dealing with things sensibly and realistically…

I think that was part of my hangup…  That this idea of being pragmatic meant to think in terms of reality.  I mean; we were eating at a Latin-Asian Fusion Cuisine / Tequila & Sake Bar in Chapel Hill.  That in and of itself was unrealistic…, but, it was still applicable to everyday life.

The bottom line is this: I’m of the opinion that totally unrealistic ideas can be part of an equation to usefulness in everyday life.  This notion is explored in detail in a Forbes / Tech post by Greg Satell: “How The Impossible Becomes Possible“.

As it turns out, the Latin and Greek roots of the word “pragmatism” stem from knowledge of the law and doing deeds.  BINGO!  Recall my post on “collaboration” in which the word “law” with respect to science was discussed.

Laws are what we use to describe scientific explorations that have been boiled down into what can be made useful.  We might not know what light is (wave? particle? both?), but we can boil light down to something useful (my students will get that one).

This definition of pragmatism felt better.  This notion that things we don’t fully understand (physics) can be useful (engineering).  Again, nondualism; right there.

Phew!  OK.  Now back to the deal with my response to Pragmatic Yoga being a weak one.

How is Yoga useful to everyday life, more than just making my body feel good and keeping calm under pressure?

There’s this part of Yoga were I’ve learned to be intense in one part of my body (maybe I’m standing on one leg and that’s really hard), while being totally relaxed in another part of my body (like keeping my shoulders loose).  Or, maybe it has to do with some vigorous flow, normally sending me into hyperventilation, but instead, I’m keeping my breathing at a calm, relaxed pace.

In every day life, we have fires burning all around us that need attention.  Fires burning around our jobs, our homes, our personal lives including friends, lovers, and family members.  From the bills we need to pay to the deadlines for work and the assignment at school; maybe we fail to see what’s really important and miss a child’s game or recital; or miss date night with our spouse.

I feel like sometimes, I may be stressed about everything.

Other times, I’m like The Dude, and just chill out, about everything.

Yoga.  How that applies to everyday life for me?  It’s about being able to mentally balance the fires.  It’s about attending to the important fires with great effort, while chilling out about the not so important ones.  That’s my answer Tony.

I would love to hear your points and counterpoints on this topic in the discussion section.

Health & Happiness for All
Andrew

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