When it comes to Yoga Karateka can get great benefits. Before you get benefits, hower, you have to understand why Yoga works. It’s an interesting question, and one which I have never heard answered. In fact, some youngster puts the question to some oriental sage type, and I see a lot of justifying and circumventing and philosophizing…and no real answer.
I was trying to make yoga work the other day, and I was listening to some gal on a Yoga CD course and trying to relate it to the karate that I knew, and the gal on the CD suddenly said something that made me blink. Smugly, she stated, ‘It took me three years to be able to do this yoga asana.’ I paused the CD, and ruminated over her statement.
It took her three years of discipline to make her body hold a pose. She was proud, which is okay, but is still probably the sinful version of satisfied. And I don’t think she really knew or understood Yoga.
She was stretching and being a contortionist. She wasn’t talking about becoming aware as a spiritual being, but rather being prideful about being able to pretzelize her body. What she was saying had to do with holding her body in a posture, and nothing to do with the spiritual side of the discipline.
One of my more odd martial arts tricks is to practice my karate kata in a dark room with no lights and my eyes closed. I do this because Karate means ’empty hands,’ and I recognized that you couldn’t have empty hands without developing an empty mind. I am merely trying to reduce extraneous sensations, and develop awareness aimed at the single and concentrated practice of the martial arts form.
To understand this in Yoga, shut your eyes and become aware of your right, big toe. You must be aware of your right, big toe without the use of body perceptions. You must become aware, not be aware through body perception devices (eyes, taste, hearing, and so on).
If you can hold the body motionless, reduce sensation, and just become aware, then you are on the track of real yoga. If you can understand the different between being aware through body perception tools (sight, smell, etcetera), and just being aware, then you are on the track of real yoga. If you can become aware of yourself as a spiritual being apart from the body, then you are doing real Yoga.
You don’t have to force your body through rigid postures. You need merely assume a pose…doesn’t even have to be an official yoga position…and stop looking through your senses, and let awareness flower. The difference between perception and awareness, this is why yoga works, why karate is great, and your big toe is so cool.