Acrobats and yogis, somehow same and somehow different.
Watching them, I am always mesmerized by the litheness and pliability of their bodies, the centred focus of their gaze and the steady confidence with which they proceed to ask of themselves what seems a physically impossible task.
For acrobats and gymnasts, the training process is demanding and can be harsh and unempathetic. They are sometimes abused in many ways in the process of reaching their goals. The abuse can seem justifiable to them, or the people with vested interest in them, when ambition lurks in the background.
To me, yoga inadvertently achieves a similar end with the other extreme of treatment – the offer of compassion (among other philosophies) towards every living creature, including the self.
While yogis can choose to be violent with their bodies, or allow others to do the same to them, in the same way that acrobats and gymnasts do, the way of yoga is compassionate and non-harming.
While there are many people who claim to be practitioners of yoga and are capable of performing marvellous contortionist asanas, the question I ask is what differentiates them from just another gymnast at the games, or an acrobat in a circus?
So while my Instagram feed is bombarded with photos of impressive asanas accompanied by vinyasas of practioners’ selfies, I think back to the YTT lessons on the 8-limbs of yoga and remember that yoga is so much more than meets the eye.
A wise keyboard warrior once said “asanas alone, do not a yogi make” unless one is content to be an acrobat in the Circus of The Sun.