Form and Freedom
I have books that I keep going back again and again, and today I was flipping through my copy of Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations, and found this so relevant to asana practice:
Another lesson from Zen is that form (rules or structure) is necessary for freedom to exist. If you have the form, you can exercise great freedom. If you have no form, you get a situation in which everything and anything goes. It’s true that we must use our own good judgement and not let the rules become a kind of bondage of their own. Nonetheless, the form is important.
I can vouch for this. I used to do yoga for many, many years completely ignorant of form—the alignment and position of the body, and function—what the pose is good for. It was much more of a physical pursuit to achieve some predetermined shape no matter the cost.
When I started to learn about alignment, I thought it was, well, to be honest, totally anal and rigid. I’ve since changed my mind, but I can see how the obsession with form can easily turn into a robotic practice, “a kind of bondage of their own”, as Garr says in his book.
Nevertheless, learning the principles behind the form has been the single most important thing for me in my yogasana practice.
May the form be with you.