Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of the blurred lines between yoga asana practice and modern day movement culture is the identical movements found in gymnastics and popular forms of practice like Ashtanga. In Ashtanga this sequence would be known as a ‘jump back and jump through’ though usually done with crossed legs - with the components being the postures known as Tolasana and Lolasana. In gymnastics these identical movements are called (Tuck) V-Sit, (Tuck) L-Sit, (Tuck) Planche and I’ve noticed in the last few years that some of these terms - like L-Sit are making there way into the common vernacular of modern yoga.
It’s worth noting that the idea that yoga is not ‘mere gymnastics’ has been around for a long time, but, as Mark Singleton’s book, Yoga Body, so potently points out, the revival of modern gymnastics in Europe during the 1800’s was based upon the same principles as much modern yoga practice today: the union of body, mind and spirit, and the belief of building a ‘a sound mind in a sound body’. As the book also illustrates, western gymnastics and physical culture heavily influenced a period of experimentation and remodelling of what Yoga was to become back in Mysore, India, in the 1930’s.
Today, I find it very interesting that the term Physical Culture has been replaced by Movement Culture and we are experiencing a revival/re-enactment of what happened on a global scale during this period of the 1800’s and early part of the 20th century, as Instagram, YouTube and the globalisation of the planet, is creating this climate of experimentation and fusion of various disciplines. On the one hand we could worry that this is the end of ‘tradition’ and ‘authentic’ practice, or we could embrace it as an exciting time and become the innovators of yesteryear today.
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