The Baseball Sutras

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevin dooley

I have an unexpected, playful answer to the question, What is yoga?

Baseball, yogis, it’s baseball.

You see, it is now October. Which means, in the best interest of my soul, I’m kickin’ Wall Street to the curb for now.  Because during this month each year, my meditation practice includes watching the World Series, and my yoga mat is diamond-shaped.

I love baseball for the very reason those who hate it, hate it (same is true of my love of cats). “It’s too slow.” “It’s boring.” “Nothing is happening.” My take = it’s about the subtleties, the nuances of the present moment. So is yoga. Contrary to what many beginning (and even continuing) practitioners believe, the more “advanced” the yogi, the more subtle the practice. Extravagant, flamboyant poses do not necessarily an advanced yogi make.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about the stilling of the mind, quieting the waves of the chockfull storehouse of our thoughts. Just watch an exchange among pitcher, catcher, and batter (even a comedic one). Patanjali mentions asana in only three sutras, 2:46-2:48, and they all could be applied to what happens in baseball.

The first sutra on asana (asana means seat–what else is the pitcher’s mound?), 2:46, is on 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. Sutra 2:47 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 final asana sutra, 2:48, illumines what happens when we do master asana in this way: you will not be pulled off base by the pairs of opposites, or those things which we tend to either harbor or avoid.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zach Heller Photography

The Texas Rangers and the  St. Louis Cardinals have practiced their way to the 2011 World Series. At least to some degree, it was by mastering those sutras. One may have to observe closely to see it this way, but that is exactly my point.

 

Baseball is brilliantly subtle, while vastly complex.

 

It is filled with nuance, defined by detail, and when made manifest by its true adepts, is an equanimity of fearlessness and joy… Just like yoga. Yoga is skill in action. Baseball, too, possesses the quietude, timelessness, and the opportunity for stillness which defines such skillful action. (But that is another scripture up my pin-striped sleeve, The Baseball Gita). If you’d like to be prepared, dear student, get out your Gitas.

Do I have any fellow “baseball is yogic” fans? There are some fantastic baseball metaphors ripe for yoga teachers, what are yours? Let’s play ball! (Er, yoga.) I’ll leave you with one of my favorite yoga teaching mantras, one that is honored by the best hitters in the business of baseball:

Be Patient at the Plate.  

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- who has written 41 posts on Yoga Modern.

Barbra Brady is the Art Editor at Yoga Modern. She holds an MA in Museum Exhibition Theory & Cultural Studies, which she has exercised as a museum curator of contemporary art, nationally published writer, leader of a venerated nonprofit yoga retreat foundation, and now, yoga with a slant on channeling creative energy. When not practicing or teaching yoga in the tradition of her teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker (as a Certified Level IParaYoga teacher) or as an iRest Yoga Nidra practitioner, Barbra practices the yoga of “curiosity.” The curiosity that fuels her imagination may be through writing, curating, a turn of leaf or phrase, cinema, a century ride on her road bike… She’ll be sharing her curatorial picks and original musings, as she whispers in the ear of the Yoga Modern community: “Hey, look at this!” She lives in Sonoma, California, an Eden which naturally prompts her reflections on nature, food, and yes, wine (in meaningful moderation).

10 Responses

  • Barbara,
    I have nothing to add here as it is complete and perfect. Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing it. Best, Hilary

    • veloyogi says:

      Thanks, Hilary, this makes me smile! I've said before, and I'll say it again many times, You just never know where you'll find "yoga." Which makes life grand.

  • Why not? And tennis, too:

    Yoga Tennis http://bit.ly/qbbhJF

    Great article.

    Bob W.

    • veloyogi says:

      Thanks, Bob, and, Yes! One of my first memories of what I know realize was a practice of being present was an article I read in New York magazine probably 30 years or more…in it Ilie Nastase was describing why he felt he was such a talented tennis player, how did he deal with the intensity of matches? He said that while on the court, he would keep himself from getting tense by repeating to himself mentally, "Now, the ball is coming over the net…now, the ball is getting close to me…now, I begin to swing my arm, now the racket hits the ball," etc. I was very young when I read that (and a sensitive, intense, high-strung young woman!), and I was so grateful for these words. I began to use that technique whenever I found myself in a tense situation. And now. I teach such practices via ParaYoga!

  • Your article got 207 views when I posted it to StumbleUpon http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/yogamodern.com/cat

    Bob