“When in doubt, just go OUT! | Amy Ippoliti

Maha Shivaratri benefit event

(l to r) Douglas Brooks, Krishna Das, Amy Ippoliti, John Friend and Sianna Sherman at Maha Shivaratri fundraiser for the Gulf of Mexico

In community or partnerships of any kind, remembering the big picture and how value can be brought to the most people involved, will mean the difference between harmony and disharmony. When someone thinks too much as an individual with out considering the feelings or efforts of the others, it can cause distrust between friends, and someone will end up feeling disrespected.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is critical to be able to think as an individual, make sure your basic needs are being met, and that you are taking care of yourself. It’s just that if we turn too deeply in that direction and forget the universal, we can get insular, selfish, and sometimes even obnoxious!

The good news is that when we pause, reflect and take one more moment to remember the big picture (and I mean get cosmic – go out to space and see how small the earth is, how much bigger this reality is, and how peaceful it is there)…it just gets easier to let things go, to move on, not stay stuck in an unhealthy pattern or cling to a story line that is so 2007.

So I say in these moments, “When in doubt, just go OUT!”

via Blog | Amy Ippoliti.

I’m really touched to read this blog post by Amy Ippoliti, particularly given my own birthday experience of considering the universal. The journalist Turk Pipkin explicitly seeks out Nobel laureates for the “big picture” in his documentary “Nobelity,” and of course, Al Gore discusses the classic and compelling “Earth from space” photograph in “An Inconvenient Truth.” I often think of the classic song “From a Distance” by Julie Gold, covered by Nanci Griffith, Bette Midler, and so many others.

But casual readers should note that in Anusara yoga, “the universal,” while open to the individual’s interpretation, also means something particular. In asanas, or yoga poses, the front body represents the individual, and the back body, the universal. In Anusara, very often a solution to being stuck in a pose is to “move to the back body,” physically, but metaphysically to place one’s reliance in “the greater energy.” Last week in one of my regular classes, we were working on Bakasana, Crane Pose. One of my fellow yogis and I seem to pass back and forth this “stitch” in the stomach. Sometimes I get it and sometimes she does. That night it was her turn. But our teacher instructed her to move into the back body, specifically by breathing into the kidneys and the tightness disappeared.

Amy Ippoliti’s post also refers quite playfully to John Friend’s oft-repeated dictum “If in doubt, stick it out.” In Anusara, we try to maintain the low-back curve and spiral inward the inner thighs. This causes the posterior to protrude. (I cannot emphasize enough how many low-back woes this solves.)

All of this implies a kind of unity of individual and social experience, on the mat, and off, in terms of the sort of social concern Amy Ippoliti mentions. In the sociologist George Herbert Mead’s work on socialization, there is in “the social self” a unity of individual and society, or as he says, of personality and community. The social process of socialization (not “socializing,” which we call “interaction”) is the way in which we learn our culture and our place in the social world. It is through some rather more diffuse and complex processes, like fulfilling our social roles, that we pulse in the other direction, and allow our personality to influence the community. The definition of that community is shifting with other processes of globalization. I think Amy Ippoliti may well offer one sound way of evolving new norms to cope with those shifts.


About Richard Hudak

I am Senior Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and I have been a practitioner of Anusara™ yoga. I have completed 200 hours of teacher training within its diaspora community, consistent with its philosophy and alignment principles.
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