The Mountain Pose Yoga Festival is the brainchild of the lovely Dr. Satkirin Khalsa
The following article was written by Satkirin – read it, enjoy it, and don’t forget to buy your tickets to this amazing event!
Aesthetics of Yoga + My Travels in Spain
This is my first time to this country, and Spain has made me question if beauty is only skin deep.
(I know it’s not, but I’ve still been thinking about it all week!)
Like tourists in Spain, most people view and judge yoga based on how it is packaged and presented. Most perceptions of yoga by my peers and patients alike, depend on the aesthetics of how yoga is marketed and who yoga is marketed to. It seems I’ve heard it all…
“I can’t touch my toes. I could never do yoga.”
“Well, I can’t wear those purple spandex.”
“Don’t you have to be a hippie to do yoga?”
I assure them, I don’t wear purple spandex! My yoga pants are mostly black.
I am a yogi that enjoys hip hop and I like my granola. But I am not a hippie or a hipster.
I am a yogi that enjoys diversity.
So, when a friend of mine announced he would be getting married in Spain, I booked tickets immediately. Spain has been on my ‘bucket list’ for years. I thought about visiting Spain whenever I drove through Madrid, New Mexico. This small village in central New Mexico is about an hour from my hometown of Albuquerque, and is nothing like Madrid, Spain.
I can say that with certainty now that I’ve been to both Madrid’s. They are even pronounced differently, Mah-drid vs. Mad-drid.
To get a sense of what to expect from Mah-drid, Spain, culturally, historically, and socially, I read as much as I could before leaving. Being a yogi, as with all travel, naturally, reflexively even, I Googled the yoga scene in Spain. I even contacted about four different studios (numerous times) in the areas I’d be traveling through.
Due to circumstance, the first four days this week were experienced sans yoga practice. The experience, thus far however, has been above and beyond anything that I read or expected.
The beauty in Spain is everywhere, and runs much deeper than the surface. Spain is spectacular, from the colored stucco walls, to the foundations of marble engraved historical monuments.
The cities I have seen thus far are gorgeous. In Madrid and Seville, the manicured gardens of the Jardines del Buen Retiro, and the gardens at the Royal Palace of Alcazar, are lush, with spring flowers blooming under the shade of century old fig and sycamore trees. The museum, Reina Sofia, with four floors housing such works of art as Picasso’s famous Guernica, a historical depiction of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian militia, during the Spanish Civil War. This painting is larger than any one wall in my entire house. How did Picasso paint such a magnificent piece, so large, with every stroke done with detailed precision and purpose? Did he start in the middle and work his way out in each direction??
I stood there looking at Guernica, turning my head from left to right, and right to left, just to view it completely. My peripheral vision couldn’t possibly cover the entire length. I felt miniscule.
In Seville, the Royal Palace of Alcazar was breathtaking. Much of the original construction, done by the Moors, remains, with archways, doors, and beams made of engraved marble, wood, precious gemstones, and metal. The mosaic tile work, with intricate detail and original color paint, was marvelous.
Even the restaurants, all the medieval streets and neighborhoods, with grand architecture and historical ambience, are picturesque. It seems that every door, window, balcony, and awning, were made and constructed with similar attention to detail as the royal residences.
Though each house and each building is adorned with various styles of intricate tile, and paint in a profusion of Mediterranean color, together it all just seems to fit. It all works.
In Spain, beauty and aesthetic appeal are most definitely external. Every window is worthy of being photographed! But they are all rich in culture and historical relevance.
Yoga has it’s own history, and is also an internal and external experience. Experiencing yoga is a personal, individual, feeling. I can’t quite pinpoint, describe, or quantify my own experience. When I practice, basically, I feel good from the inside out, and from the outside in. On my mat, I am not sure what comes first, the chicken or the egg?! Is yoga as aesthetically pleasing as a country like Spain??
I admit it, though. I’m a yoga addict.
Yoga is a beautiful addiction to have. Four days without a yoga practice in Spain was manageable, even though I thought about fitting in a practice ‘in the morning’, ‘maybe this evening’, ‘perhaps at the park’, ‘while touring the Reina Sofia’…..Can’t I do yoga anywhere and everywhere?
My yoga practice gives me the time and space to return to home base. To start anew, to listen, feel, understand, appreciate, forgive, ponder, reminisce, forget, let go, and I am able to leave the mat with the beautiful calm that comes from this practice. I was not on my mat, but I now realize I was practicing yoga those first four days as I toured Madrid and Seville. Not the asana’s, but while touring these beautiful cities I was listening, feeling, understanding, appreciating, forgiving, pondering, reminiscing, forgetting, letting go, and leaving each new ‘space’ with a feeling of calm.
This was a different experience of feeling and seeing beauty, and a different internal experience, entirely. An awe-inspiring sense and feeling of tranquility.
The aesthetics of Spain made this possible.
Rolling out my mat on the fifth day, however, was like having my cake and eating it too!
I stepped on my mat with the same reflexive external requirements I always have. Specific attire, need for exact amount of space, not having visual distractions, enough time but without too much pressure, and the proper level of nutrition and hydration. A sweet return to home base!
I’m still not sure if the chicken or the egg requires any sort of order, but not having the seemingly shallow external necessities first, can secondarily affect my practice on the mat.
For some, make-up application is as reflexive as any other daily reflex. Before I left on this trip, I saw one of my patients, a woman in her 80’s who came to see me for foot pain. As I treated her with acupuncture and showed her postures for muscle stability, movement, and strength, she began telling me about her husband, who had passed away the previous year. He was a wonderful gentleman, and they had lived a life together full of joy and happiness.
My patient and I both got teary eyed as she discussed the dying experience with her husband, which had begun at home. During this conversation, she looked up at me and recalled having put on her make-up, but ‘not bothering with her hair.’ Amidst the paramedics, her children, the chaos created in the home before following her husband’s ambulance to the hospital, she had carefully applied her make-up.
She was puzzled at the concept, and through her tears she chuckled, thinking, ‘how ridiculous’ to have bothered with her make-up. Especially given that she didn’t remember thinking to go apply it. I had asked her if, perhaps, applying her make-up had become more of a reflex, something she didn’t put much thought into, but rather just did it, and so routinely, for so many years.
She said, “Why yes! I guess so, and more routine than even my hair!”
Beauty, whether by intentional application of make-up, detailing engraved marble archways in Spain, or feeling internal beauty on one’s yoga mat, does not only serve one purpose, aesthetically. Beauty has many purposes, countless purposes actually. Beauty and aesthetics are not just objects, or materials.
Beauty is a feeling, a reflexive human instinct. I am relieved that yoga is my vice, my reflexive addiction.
Yet, I’m grateful to have packed my mat, and my make-up bag for this trip to Spain. The wedding will, without a doubt, be absolutely spectacular. Down to the very last detail. I’ll be wearing my make-up, and might fit in my yoga practice, but this trip isn’t about my mat time. It’s about my dear friend’s wedding.
Yoga happens, regardless. I just hope my crying doesn’t smudge my make-up!!
Take a trip this summer! Join us at the first annual Mountain Pose Yoga Festival, at Copper Mountain, Co., July 7th- 10th.
The scenery is aesthetically pleasing, Copper Village is as cute as a button, and how you feel inside and out will be nothing less than spectacular - Guaranteed!