Luke Jordan

Yoga: Through the Looking Glass

When I was a child one of my favourite books was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Little did I know when I started practising Yoga that I would be entering a magical world in which, like Alice, all that I thought I knew for sure would no longer seem so certain.

In the beginning Yoga seemed to provide a securer identity, albeit a more spiritual one. However, the more I practised the more it led me into a questioning of all that we take for granted (including my new spiritual suppositions).

For me yoga is not just a set of physical postures. Ultimately, yoga is an inquiry into the nature of reality, into The Truth (whatever that is). Like Alice, much of the time we seem so certain. ‘I am Luke, I am from Belfast, I do yoga!’

Stepping into the world of yoga can be much like falling down the rabbit hole that brings us to Wonderland, the land where everything is turned upside down, the world where we are no longer quite sure of who we are, the land where anything is possible. Read the Vibhuti Pada of the Yoga Sutras and what are described as some of the siddhis gained through the practice of yoga sound straight out of Alice’s Wonderland.

Entering into the Wonderland of yoga, we might begin to question all those ideas and concepts that we take for granted, that holding onto stop us from entering into the space of not knowing (the space of wonder). There is a saying in Zen – ‘Zen mind, beginners mind’. The same would be true for the yogi. With not knowing there is an openness, the potential to understand. Thinking we know – we become stuck in the static world of ideas and concepts and we try to mould reality to fit them.

In our yoga practice, with beginners mind, each practice is different. We let go of expectations and allow ourselves to be responsive and available to the moment just as it is. The practice becomes less about the destination and more about the journey. We begin to melt and see passed those physical and mental structures that have held us in place for so long and that prevent a free-fall into the infinite rabbit-hole that is yoga, that is the experience of this moment just as it is.

Instead of living with the certitude of who we are we begin to enter into the vicara (in-quiry) offered by the smoking caterpillar (and, incidentally Sri Ramana Maharshi) and to ask ourselves the question, ‘Who are you’! Then can we enter the land were we are wonder itself…

…That is on a good day!