Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if the purpose of the Ashtanga practice is to turn us all into ninjas; some idle musings

To see what I mean, first check out this video:

Lately I've been wondering: What really is the point of doing this Ashtanga thing? You know, you get up at stupid o'clock, maybe drug yourself with some coffee (or your personal stimulant of choice, whatever that may be), and then drag your barely conscious body/mind to the mat, put yourself through some funny actions called Surya Namaskars (most of the time, you are namaskaring to a sun that hasn't even risen :-)), and then twist, stretch and bend your body into interesting shapes while most of the rest of the world remains blissfully asleep and ignorant of your labors. If one is lucky, one gets to do this every morning for 20, 30 or even 40 years (excluding moon days and rest days). Then, sooner or later, age catches up, and you will either have to greatly modify, scale back or even abandon the asana practice altogether.

So all this doing, just to have to give everything up in the end? Of course, the official party line tells us that this is kind of the whole point of yoga anyway: There is really no point, when it comes down to it. At least not in any tangible sense. Things come, things go. One can accept it, work with it, and be happy and find peace. Or one can resist it, and create unnecessary suffering for oneself and others.

Fair enough. But what if things are actually not what they seem? What if, unbeknownst to us, there really is a tangible point to all this asana practice? What if this Ashtanga practice is really a process that secretly turns us into... ninjas? As I observed in my previous post on bandhas, there are many similarities between uddiyana bandha and accessing the hara in martial arts. And, as you can see in the video above, being able to activate uddiyana bandha translates into a very useful skill in the ninja world: Perhaps this skill comes in handy when a ninja needs to, you know, infiltrate a house whose floor is planted with sharp iron stakes or nails or something.

What if, unbeknownst to all of us, what we know as the Ashtanga organization (i.e. KPJAYI) is actually a front for training ninjas, and the entire six series of the Ashtanga system is actually a training system that enables the practitioner to progressively develop the relevant ninja powers, while also progressively screening out those candidates/practitioners who don't have what it takes to become ninjas? Well, you know, if you don't make it as a ninja (i.e. if you don't progress beyond, say, third series in this lifetime), then the Ashtanga practice is just a mind/body meditative practice for you. But if you make it to fourth series or beyond, then you secretly get inducted into a secret society of ninjas:

 Kunoichi (female ninja) being inducted
 [Image taken from here]

Hmm... could getting certified really mean getting certified as a ninja? Hmm... could Kino actually be a ninja?

But what do I know? These are just the idle musings of an overstimulated brain. Besides, I seriously doubt if I will make it past third series in this lifetime. So I really have no way of knowing, one way or the other.

Well, actually, now I'm getting a little worried: Have I said too much? I hope I don't get ninja-ed tonight...

[Image taken from here]


  1. I'm pretty sure that Kino is definitely a ninja!

  2. <----- Do you think this boy is an Ashtanga Ninja? He seems to have the attitude.

  3. Funny:) Thank you for all of your great posts, I so enjoy them...Om Shanti

  4. AYEA, yes, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Kino (and probably all other certified teachers) are ninjas :-)

    Chris, hmm... well, he might have the attitude, but one needs more than attitude to make it as a ninja :-)

    Thanks JayaKrishna :-) Om Shanti.

  5. Funny, I'd love to be a ninja then....