The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

This quote from Aristotle is as appropriate today as it ever was.  When I came across the phrase recently, I saw it as an ideal way to explain the body’s synergistic design. More and more through yoga I am coming to realize that the individual components of our bodies were designed to work in collaboration to give us the greatest results.  And, I’m not just talking about the way that our muscles move our bones.

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At a gross level, each yoga posture was created to be accomplished by nearly every part of the body. And, when joined, these individual parts are most definitely greater than their total sum.  Amazing feats of strength, flexibility and awareness are generated when single elements are able to affect each other. For instance, in Purvottanasana (reverse plank), it is imperative that the action in the legs, torso and arms contribute to the posture.  However, it is when the inner body, the action of the bandhas and the principles of alignment are added that the most effective form of the pose develops.

As students of yoga, we receive a wide perspective.  Not only do we view ourselves as the body, mind and spirit but we also have access to something called the subtle body. This is the level where the deepest connections wind within ourselves. I feel that these unseen bonds are the true glue that unites our many physical parts.

The chakras are a good place to begin to understand the subtle plane and its tremendous effect on the entire body. If you have been following along with the posts these last few weeks, you know we have been exploring the inner workings and how they connect to the full picture that is our authentic body. The “whole” is definitely greatest when all the parts are identified, provided for and able to function as full contributors.

In fact, B.K.S Iyengar said it best: “Yoga is more than physical. It is cellular, mental, intellectual and spiritual – it involves man in his entire being.”

Aristotle & Iyengar.  Now that’s an interesting combination…

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