Sunday, December 26, 2010

What yoga posture would you like to die in?

Yes, I do understand that this is a rather morbid question to be asking, especially on the day after Christmas, no less. Well, the fault is not entirely mine: I got the inspiration for this question from Arturo's latest blog post!

So yes, I totally admit that this is a very morbid question to be contemplating. But as James Bond famously said,

"You only live twice:
Once when you're born
And once when you look death in the face."

Whether we like it or not, death is the only event in our lives that we can be dead certain about (no pun intended) after we are born. And like birth, we have no control over the manner in which we are going to die. But here's the difference: While we were not reflective beings before we were born (i.e. while we were in the womb), we are reflective beings before our moment of death. So we can at least set some kind of intention, which would hopefully direct our life in such a way that it will tend towards the direction in which we want it to end, rather than not.

Hence my question. Since my favorite activity (and presumably, many of yours too) is yoga, I would think that it would be better, all other things being equal, to die doing something that I love doing than to die doing something that makes me miserable. If your favorite activity is not yoga, this question still applies to you: What aspect of your favorite activity would you like to be "caught" doing at the moment of death?

Well, I'll take the plunge myself first. I would NOT like to be doing kapotasana (or some other backbend) when I die. Even though my kapotasana actually looks pretty good (I know, I'm being very immodest), I actually have to make a lot of effort to keep my breath even and my body in that position in kapotasana; I have yet to actualize "Sthira Sukham Asanam" in this posture. If it already takes me so much effort to keep myself steady in the posture when I am alive and kicking, I can only imagine how terrible it must be to use every ounce of my last breath on earth to hold myself in this very demanding posture. Yes, I know I do look pretty good in this posture, but who cares about looking good when one is dying?

I think I would much prefer to take my last breath in some forward bend or hip-opener like paschimottasana or even padmasana. Actually padmasana would be nice; I'll both look and feel good :-)

My apologies if this topic is very morbid. I promise that I will come up with more cheerful topics in subsequent posts. But if you are not too offended by the morbidness of this post, I would love to hear your views.         


  1. Morbid, but interesting all the same! :)

    Pashimottasana, if I had a choice. It's the moment during my day where I take my steadiest breaths and where my mind is often quietest. As the transition from life is a "once in a lifetime" to speak...I'd want to be at my most aware...wouldn't want to be distracted and miss the whole thing!

  2. It would have to be supta kurmasana.

    Once I figured out that pose, I've always found peace and comfort there. Another benefit, that since due to it's compact nature would possibly help save on funerary costs. AND! The pose also has a bit of contortionist shock value to it.

  3. Hilarious.

    FWIW, sometimes I imagine that I've just been buried in the field where I grew up, and the grasses are starting to grow over the ground and my body is starting to decay. Morbid, yes. :-) But so relaxing.

  4. Christine, yes, I agree with you about paschimottasana. The pose puts me into a quiet space, a space which seems to tell me that I am not going anywhere, and it's totally fine, and everything's all good. That really wouldn't be a bad way to spend the last moment of one's life.

    Portside, hahaha! I never thought about it this way, but yes, it would definitely save on funeral costs (smaller coffin, smaller burial plot) if one can be buried in this position. And of course, archeologists thousands or even millions of years from now will see your body/skeleton, and say to themselves, "So human beings of so many thousands/millions of years ago were very flexible!"

    Interesting, ovo. The more I think about your image of been buried in a field and decaying, the more I feel a sense of letting go, a sense of not being identified with my physical body.

  5. My boyfriend and I always joke about doing our final drop over into the grave when we're 110 years old. So, I would like to die in handstand. After death, I would like to be plasticized (like the exhibits that have been so popular the past couple of years) and put into the deepest Kapo ever. I won't feel it because I'll be dead, but I'll look great!

  6. Evelyn, dying in handstand and (literally) dropping dead sounds interesting. I have never thought about getting plasticized into kapo, or into anything in particular, although it is an interesting idea.

    Actually, what I would probably like to happen to me after I take my last breath in padmasana or paschimottanasana is for my body to be cremated in either of those postures, and for my ashes to be scattered into the Pacific. Why the Pacific? Because the Pacific spans both Asia and America, and since I have spent big parts of my life on both continents, it would be fitting to have my ashes scattered into the ocean that spans both these continents.

    Okay, I didn't mean to go into that much detail here (TMI?). But I just couldn't stop writing.

  7. hehe. i'm still with Kukutasana, since I'll look like I'm starting to float to heaven.

  8. oh! I love the "floating to heaven" image, Arturo!

    But I still want to be plasticized! And put in the yard as art. HA! (not really, of course... Nobel, your idea is very beautiful)

  9. Very beautiful image, Arturo :-)

    Thanks Evelyn :-)

  10. It’s nice to see yoga gaining a sturdy foothold for the average joe, and brings with it a pleasing array of physiological, psychological and whatever other kind of benefit I haven’t heard of. Fortunately, as of today, I found out that the pros of yoga even extend to cancer patients, gra├žias to this article here ( Either way, I found this to be pretty neat, and hope you’ll also find this extra tidbit of use to you. :}

  11. Was on a beach trip in Thailand recently so at the moment I would say "snorkeling in the ocean".

    If I must pick a yoga pose, I would say Supta Virasana. Not super fancy but I feel so comfortable in that pose :)