Anthropology and Yoga: pathways to understanding diversity and unity

Christmas 1st, 2023

Category: Without category

Anthropology and Yoga: pathways to understanding diversity and unity

Claudia Caceres

anthropology, which has usually been defined as the study of cultural, she has a double gaze on herself, that combines uniqueness and diversity. We cannot speak of a single human culture, due to the enormous diversity of its expressions, but from the point of view of this discipline, It seeks to understand what human beings have in common., In this sense, culture was constructed as a concept or analytical category, while progress was made in explaining the diversity of cultural expressions in their originalities. The way to acquire knowledge in anthropology, It's like in all science, collecting data, watching, looking outward from the individual. The researcher realizes that he is being an observer, and that from that point you can have a series of appreciations that condition your way of understanding how cultures are organized from prejudices typical of your own matrix of existence.. Introduces the notion of otherness thanks to prejudices, where anthropology constructed the “Other” as an object for many years.

Yoga, for its part, is a discipline that also studies human beings., but not from an outside look, but rather from an exercise of introspection. In yoga the one who observes is the same one observed, is not an “Other”, but it is the observer himself. In that exercise of self-understanding, finds that he or she itself contains duality: uniqueness and diversity. Well he finds that his body, first experience, is associated with your mental body, and your emotional body, among other states of consciousness and being. When the individual is able to recognize that he is not one, but the confluence of other senses, awareness, and emotions, little by little he comes to experience that at the same time he is one with life, with everything. Therefore the “Others”, they stop being distant, to be included in this experience of being.

Some time ago when I began my ethnographic studies with the Wayuu people, This opened my perception to a new way of observing the world.. Well, through the exercises of silence my mind was able to calm down., silence your incessant internal conversation to observe the world without this noise. There with grandmother Dolores, Under the bower and the scorching heat of the Guajiro desert I felt my mind detach from my. I understood that my being was not only my thoughts, but there was something else.
Studies in anthropology, They took me to meet many indigenous peoples and leaders, that from his own way of using the word, of their ancestral medicines, of their particular way of establishing links and connections, that way of looking at “Others” from the old anthropological paradigms that are no longer practiced today destroyed me., at least in Latin American anthropology. The “Other” in Latin American anthropology has faded, well the other far away, it turned out to be ourselves. Important contributions to the development of anthropology in Latin America have been made since the years 70, where it has also been enriched with the ways of understanding the world of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, peasants and gypsies. My anthropological experience was merging with a life experience, with a sense of life, and then it would be a path for me to follow to understand the philosophies of the native peoples..

On the other hand, the experience of practicing Hata Yoga, What I started doing with the guide of a book by Indira Devi, it would lead me to connect my mind with my body, from the search for health well-being. The practice I did was gymnastic. There was something about the postures that challenged me to investigate my ability to do with my body. For its part, anthropology would also lead me to research, where I wondered about the symbolic orders of violence, since I was in search of meaning in a world that was difficult at that time, chaotic and violent in my experience, where fear ruled my society and ruled me.

I had the beautiful opportunity to visit a small Yoga school in Pasto, and there under the guidance of Isabel, Carlos and Alice, I started a collective practice for the first time. This was really interesting, because while she worked dedicated to the service of populations whose rights were violated and violated by forced displacement, I felt the strength of the collective as a process of encounter and social recovery. For this, the work of traditional medicine of the Cofan people was fundamental., that with the help of ayahuasca, I managed to take another step in the process of introspective knowledge.

Under the guidance of Mauricio, I learned Ashtanga Yoga, a yoga that the master articulated with his medical practice. This version of yoga was very interesting, because it required a little more commitment from me. The ashtanga that has sequences of postures that are performed with greater speed, I needed to develop not only concentration and observation of the teacher, but also the correction of my practice. That part of correcting your posture is very important., because it implies that it is no longer just repeated, but rather one is in the intellectual process of yoga. El Ashtanga, with his sequences he also showed me an order of the postures, the purposes of each sequence that are aimed at gaining basic skills: the equilibrium, the force, elasticity, I began to develop a new way of being in my body.

At the same time that he began teaching anthropology at the University, I started guiding some yoga practices, with students and colleagues who wanted to practice with me. It was a time when I was beginning to learn to be a mother and focus on the well-being of others.: the classroom, yoga practice and home care.

I abandoned yoga and teaching for many years, for working on political issues. Inside I was always missing the practice of yoga and teaching; After four years I returned to the university classrooms with the young aspiring anthropologists and at the same time to the practice of Ashtanga with Mauricio and from there I recovered a little of my routine..

In my case, yoga has never been a linear process, I am a very mobile person, I like to migrate. I consider that traveling, looking to settle down for short periods, helps open the mind, It is part of the exercise of anthropological fieldwork. It's like I need to repeat the first lesson with Dolores in other places, Well, migrating teaches us to see the world in its magnificent diversity. Thanks to this impulse I found Sensei Mimoun, Karate and Yoga teacher. I arrived at his dojo, because my son went to take karate classes with him. Master Mimoun, taught me from the first practice to connect with a new dimension of yoga for me, the spiritual dimension. I remember his meditations as the most liberating experiences I have had in this process.. With his guidance I managed to connect with myself in the other bodies that I was ignoring or that were repressed by the specific circumstances of my life experience.. I learned that Yoga is a system of thought, and that for all these years I have been a student of this particular way of seeing the world. I learned the mudras with him, the mantras, The fundamental connection with Ayurveda. I had the honor of accompanying him at a world yoga congress, where he would let me translate a conference on women and yoga.

I then took on the task of doing my own research on yoga., which I started with him, for your recommendation of the book Ayurveda, the science of healing yourself. With this book I understood the basic elements of energies or doshas: Vata, Kapha and Pita, where I started thinking about it in relation to my menstrual cycle. I began to read myself in this exciting world in a different way, understanding the relationship with the diversity of my bodies: physicist, emotional, mental, planetary and cosmic. The possibility of locating in them, in the tasks that need to be performed, and understanding that all that diversity in myself is finally found in that cosmic body.

Definitely the spiritual teachers of the indigenous peoples, especially Cayetano Torres of the Arhuaco people, the father Querubin and the father Chepe of the cofán village, Mapuche leader Olga Curipan, grandmother Dolores Castro Epiayu of the Wayuu people, I was prepared in such a way that there was no contradiction between different traditions of thought and spiritual traditions. There is an opening or better yet an articulation in the philosophical traditions of indigenous peoples and the world of yoga.. Understanding the different dimensions of the human being, his way of dialogue with the earth, with the cosmos, They are a fundamental legacy for humanity, that should not be limited to learning from books and expressing through the written word, but to be able to embrace learning in practice and make it known in oneself and orally, in the songs, in the well-being and well-being of everyone as part of the same expression of life on earth.

Anthropology, for its part, seems to have remained on university campuses., at the congresses, in research groups and political work. However, For me, anthropology and yoga have been the tools that I have been able to have and build for that understanding of culture., of cultures, of people, of individuals, and from their very different ways of approaching human reality, They give me the tranquility of that poetry that allows me to see realities from different places., like a prism. In this way there are no dogmas, just a learning process where yoga comes together, anthropology, the philosophies of the native peoples and that allow us to see through the practice, of ethnography, of participant observation, of the hata, el ashtanga, tantra, etc; how life is a process of constant change and at the same time permanence, in a scenario where diversity and unity are also combined in an eternal dance of coincidences and destiny.