Hi there! It's beetee here. I hear you, it's been a while! I hope you missed my rambling, because I missed you too! Between mid December and end of January, I have stayed in my flat in Tokyo for a total of 6 days. But I am always grateful for having had the opportunity to travel (again) to see family, for Solar and Lunar New Years. This year is the Year of the Cat in my Vietnamese heritage. In other countries that celebrate Lunar New Year, it's the Year of the Rabbit. No one knows for sure why there's a difference. But one thing is certain: the Cat Pose is way more popular than the Rabbit Pose in yoga!
This week's quick dive: Cat Pose or Rabbit Pose, Asana and What Does The Cat Say?
Cat Pose or Rabbit Pose?
They're not that different, in the end.
Obvious similarity: the spine's flexion, a.k.a. round back. Practicing these poses helps improve the mobility and elasticity of the spine and the back muscles.
Clear difference: while Cat Pose (left-side photo) can be done anytime during the sequence, and maybe more commonly towards the beginning of the practice as a warm-up, please do not attempt Rabbit Pose without a proper warm-up, or you'll risk hurting your neck. Although it is not a beginner pose, rabbit pose is essentially a beginner's inversion that brings fresh blood to the brain, as your head dips way lower than your heart. Blood flow to the head helps conditions of the sinus, common cold and chronic tonsillitis. Also, don't practice Rabbit Pose if you already have a neck or shoulder injury, or hypertension.
Have you tried Rabbit Pose before? Are you more a Cat or a Rabbit person?
Maybe by now you know: Asana means yoga postures, in the most common context. So why would I want to talk about Asana in the Mind section?
Remember the Eight Limbs of Yoga we have been talking about bit by bit over the past year or so? Well, Asana is the Third Limb, after Yama and Niyama. In the traditional yoga practice, once you have done your homework on how to conduct as a person towards yourself and towards other people around you, you can finally step on the mat to explore your postural practice.
Have you notice the Sanskrit names of most yoga poses end with -asana? In Sanskrit, asana means comfortable seated position. And as such, the purpose of a universe of yoga poses or flows is, traditionally, to help you build a body strong and flexible enough, so you could sit for a long time in a state called "meditation", which encompasses the last four Limbs of yoga.
And the journey to that state of mind through the asanas shall and often witnesses the presence of determination, discipline, persistence, resistance, awareness and acceptance of the body, and most importantly, awareness and acceptance of the mind.
In the Eight Limbs of Yoga, asanas are just one small part at the beginning of a yoga journey. Patanjali never said yoga is fancy poses. Practitioners of advanced asanas might not necessarily be mastering their mind as they go into the pose, be in the pose, go out of the pose or live their lives beyond the pose.
Recall, the first Yoga Sutras of Patanjali says - Yoga is Now. Live the moment fully. What makes you a yogi is living in the moment on and off your mat, with kindness and love for yourself and everyone around you. That’s advanced yoga, and it takes constant practice.
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
What Does The Cat Say?
So let me ask again, are you a Cat or a Rabbit person? What would you say if you are one or the other? And how would you say it so that your human friends can understand?
Interesting work in progress: scientists have been exploring using machine-learning algorithms to decode animal communications. Much like your Live Google Translate app, but for conversations between humans and animals. If you have a cat at home, try MeowTalk, or a dog, Zoolingua. The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem. For example, machine-learning systems, which are able to extract patterns from large data sets, can distinguish between the squeaks that rodents make when they are happy and those that they emit when they are in distress. A meow contains multitudes. In the best of feline times — say, when a cat is being fed — meows tend to be short and high-pitched and have rising intonations, according to one recent study. But in the worst of times (trapped in a cat carrier), cats generally make their distress known with long, low-pitched meows that have falling intonations.
This is super futuristically interesting for me, but it does raise a few questions. First, much like how other AI applications work currently, the more data (or users) the better it works, which means your device has to be allowed to constantly listen and collect data. Are you ok with that? Is privacy really a complete delusion in the face of technological advance? Second, if this is how it works, it would work the best with huskies which are known to be super vocal. But how about animals that barely make any sounds such as hamsters and fish? Would AI be able to one day help us understand them just by, for example, reading their brain waves? And what would we do if that brain wave say "It is not ok that you read my thoughts all the time!"?
Pet owners, what do you think?
Thanks for reading! But don't leave just yet!
Ask me TWO questions or leave me TWO comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of bimonthly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.