Yoga is Like a Good Masala

You can also see this post on Elephant Journal at:–chetana-panwar/
I woke up this morning thinking of yoga as masala. Cinammon gives sweetness to masala, nutmeg and cloves an earthy savory, ginger a bit of spice. Together they are a nurturing, balancing blend of various tastes. When we reduce yoga to asana, it falls flat. The various aspects of yoga provide balance to one another, and also spice things up: mantra, visualization, relaxation, asana, pranayama, savouring through the senses, mindful nature walks, walking meditation, seated meditation et cetera. There is a veritable cornucopia of ways to practice yoga in the sense of active practice.

Then there is the aspect of yoga that is based in contemplation or mindfulness. Mindfulness is something that is ‘practiced’ throughout the regular day, as it is. In other words, we don’t have to stop our lives to practice yoga – rather, yogic mindfulness is a part of our lives as they are. It is a way of encouraging being-ness.

[a moment ago, I just typed mind-fun-ness by mistake. This is actually something I want to say – yoga and mindfulness is fun! Bearing witness to our lives and communities through being more mindful of each moment, each interaction, makes these interactions more meaningful, and therefore more pleasurable no matter what they are.]

In the past, I moved away of some of my other creative pursuits and hobbies to have more time to practice yoga and meditation. I think this is part of an organic process. As I surrendered to where the yogic process was taking me, I noticed over the years, that I had come back to many of my creative pursuits: creative writing, cooking, reading fiction, exploring dance, going to the theatre, et cetera. I realized that I did not need to reduce or suppress these parts of my life; now I experience creativity, nature appreciation, and relationship as yoga.

With the masala analogy in mind, we could say that even to look at yoga as something that we stop our lives to practice, is reductionist. When we bring all of the spices, all of the practices together, they create also a whole. That whole has another existence – not as the combination of parts, but as the blended whole. In yoga, I would call this blended, unselfconscious whole, simple being-ness.

We see this type of discussion in Tanta, which is non-dualist. We don’t need to escape the body to become the spirit. Spirit and body (purusha and prakriti) are one. The mundane is the sacred, and the sacred is the mundane. There is nothing to become, we simply drop into (surrender into) witnessing what is.

Preserving that wholeness of practice, life and self is the masala of yoga!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Katya Nova
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 16:52:43

    How beautiful, I love this analogy. I sometimes invite my students in for tea after our sunrise class and use my favourite masala… I look forward to quoting this beautiful post as an inspirational piece before practice sometime soon! Thank you so much, delicious. Your writing is filled with so much soul, Chetana!


  2. Danielle Vachon
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 16:56:28

    Mind’fun’ness. Love it. Om Shanti

    Drishti with Love


  3. akhandayoga
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 16:58:48

    Thank you, Katya!! Ahh, a masala chai sounds perfect right about now. 5PM on Hallowe’en. We’ll be opening the doors soon to trick or treaters!


  4. Mira
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 17:12:03

    I love the fact that you mistakingly were “mindfunness” and then reframed the mistake as appropriate. It’s also lovely to take time, as you have demonstrated here in this post, to consider how yoga is practicing us. Rather than something we DO, it is sonething that in a sense is DOING us, and in the process, shifting us, our behaviors and the things we are drawn to do. What are the signs of an awakened heart and body? How does it act in the world? These are questions we can only, as Rilke so famously wrote, live our way into answers for.


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