The other day, a student asked: “This yoga pose we are doing….we do it in our aerobics class as well….I don’t even know if it is a yoga pose?” We were doing the wonderful hip opener that I call “eye of the needle” where one is on one’s back and places the right ankle on the opposite knee cap followed by threading the “eye of the needle” (the opening between the legs) with the right hand and joining with the left behind the left thigh.
God question, I thought. And I said to her something like this…..
You are quite right. There are poses in a yoga class that could be similar to stretches that you engage in during other athletic endeavors. In my opinion, what makes this pose a yoga pose is by practicing the pose with mindfulness. By paying attention on purpose to the sensations in the body that are generated by the pose, the student is invited “join together” the mind and body and engage in a type of dialogue where the mind investigates the sensation and uses his/her experience as feedback for exploiring the pose fully and, at the same time, it enables the student to investigate themsleves as well. I am curious what other yoga instructors would have responded to this question?