It’s October. Which means, my meditation practice includes the World Series, and my mat is diamond-shaped.
Before I raise the Phillies’ ace Cliff Lee to near Hanuman status, let it be known: I am setting my energy on an ultimate Yankees’ series. I’ve got my buddhi based reasons (October is fitting Alex Rodriguez like a glove, Andy Pettitte’s face is the face of focus). But Lee’s skill in effortless action on opening night 2009 zoomed my awareness in (a yogic action in itself) on why I fell in love with baseball to begin with. I now have a new answer to the question, What is yoga? Baseball, yogis, it is baseball.
I love baseball for the very reason those that hate it, hate it (same could be said of my love of cats). “It’s too slow.” “Nothing is happening.” My take = it’s about the subtleties. So is yoga. Contrary to what many beginning (and even continuing) practitioners believe, the more “advanced” the yogi, the more subtle the practice. Large, athletic, twisty/bendy asana do not necessarily an advanced yogi make.
Patanjali’s The Yoga Sutra, which I now muse-ily mix with baseball, is about the stilling of the mind, quieting the waves of the chockfull storehouse of our thoughts. Just watch the exchange among pitcher, catcher, and batter.
Patanjali mentions asana in only three sutras. The first sutra on asana (asana means seat–what else is the pitcher’s mound?) is how to do asana–with steadiness and ease. It is to remain in a “good place,” or sukha, and not let anything in your space. The next sutra tells us how to master asana, which is, to, while in that good space, meditate on the infinite. Loosening your effort into the infinite… The third sutra illumines what happens when we do master asana in this way: you will remain stable in the midst of change.
Cliff Lee aced sutras 2:46-2:48 last night. Which my fanciful muse finds delightful. Baseball is brilliantly subtle, while vastly complex. It is filled with nuance, defined by detail, and when manifest in its true adepts, an equanimity of fearlessness and joy. So’s yoga.
Yoga is skill in action. Baseball possesses the quietude, timelessness, and the opportunity for stillness which defines such skillful action. But that is another yoga study. If you like to be prepared, dear student, get out your Gitas.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite yoga teaching mantras, one I hear is held by the best hitters in the business of baseball:
Be Patient at the Plate.