Math – All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

As usual I have a number of books ‘on the go’: ‘Harry Potter’ (again! keeping my daughter company on her first reading), ‘Of Human Bondage’, ‘The Chair’, ‘The Casual Vacancy’, any number of Yoga books 🙂 and ‘Maths for Mums and Dads’. Lord knows if I will finish any/all; as I get older I don’t feel obliged to finish books just ‘cos I started them, like I would in times past, but at the moment they are all holding some interest for me.

ESPECIALLY ‘Maths for Mums & Dads’. A book written to take the ‘terror’ out of maths, I was never very good at getting things to BALANCE 🙂 but want to help my daughter, hence investing in this book. I have read only one chapter and it has some real gems:

You “should praise your child for the effort they put into the maths rather than being ‘smart’ or ‘quick’.” “NEVER describe yourself as ‘hopeless’ at maths

Maths teaches you to think and how to solve problems creatively… a good maths education gives you thinking skills that you can apply anywhere particularly in developing sound rigorous reasoning skills and in being able to see patterns and make credible predictions.

when your child puts their head in their hands when they hit the math brick wall and says “what is the point?” ask them “Why does there have to be a point?” What is the point of a Sudoku? There isn’t one, is there a point to reading poetry?” …  What is the point of Beanie Boos 🙂 mmmm? Minion Monopoly? Dancing? (as we know at YM ~ The point of dancing isn’t to get to a certain place on the dancefloor – it is to enjoy each step along the way!) This is a great expression to help stress that importance in Yogasana of being in the process and not being goal driven in your practice. The process is ‘the way’. The joy is in the process.

But my favourite nugget of all that got me wanting to write this?
We think that one of the most important aspects of maths is being stuck and getting it wrong. A maths question isn’t called a ‘PROBLEM’ for nothing – the reason why it is called a problem is that it is expected that there will be some difficulty in solving it. GETTING STUCK IS AN HONOURABLE STATE…
WOW! These people really love math 🙂 . Some believe there is geometry in everything, that mathematical pattern is the theory of everything. We at YM believe there are opportunities for practicing Yoga (not Yogasana) to be found in everything! 🙂 Here is my PARALLEL drawn for this little nugget and that little ELEMENT of Yoga that challenges many at the outset of practice.

~ BALANCING~ It can be tricky business. You hit a Yoga brick wall, you wobble, you fall out.

In Yoga practice, falling out is part of the deal. Often a sign you are working hard. Every time you fall out (IF you really tune in and PAY ATTENTION to that moment just before you fall, the sensations, where you are in action/movement), YOU LEARN SOMETHING. You get back in. You fall out a dozen times, more even, until you eliminate all your different ways of falling out until you are left with no choice but to stay in. So you ‘think’ you have learned how not to fall out. You ‘think’ you have found the FORMULA. Even when you ‘think’ you have ‘SOLVED it’, know that at some point you will fall out again because there will be a new FACTOR thrown in the mix as your body changes and opens that will cause you to shift a FRACTION and fall again. This inevitability of falling out teaches even the most competitive, ego driven student humility; you have either two choices: huff and puff and let it frustrate every time OR laugh it off and try again. Which one steals more energy?

This is just the way it is in Yoga. The difference between Math and Yoga here is that inevitably you WILL get the math – there is only one answer and that will be PROBLEM SOLVED but with the ever shifting PARAMETERS of your Yoga experience and no ‘one’ perfect answer, will you eventually get the Yoga? … YOUR answer is determined by you. Will you learn to work with what presents in the moment? Your Yoga practice sure will keep you on your toes AND keep your brain working 🙂 . You can ANALYSE to your heart’s content but will you eventually realise there are no CONSTANTS? You will be ready and willing to challenge the VARIABLES and show them variables who is in control 🙂 . Yeah. And then you learn no one is in control 🙂 .

Ultimately in Yoga REASONING won’t help because reasoning is narrow and limited. Yoga lies beyond reason. Even in your first classes you are grasping the PARADOX. The paradoxes of what the instructor is saying. The paradoxes of trying to apply the instructions to your body and mind. You just don’t see the logic in the method, although you may well see its madness 🙂 . It’s a lot to get your head around. In Bikram you have to bring your ‘WONDER’ (not reason) to class with you. Have it handy as you enter the studio and think “I WONDER what will be different today in my practice?” and “I WONDER how I will handle it?”. Having gone through all the FORMULAS and PROBABILITIES and having discovered that you are unique, this wonder will be your new ELEMENTARY basis for practice and you will finally be able to SQUARE OFF anything with your Yoga 🙂

So don’t hang it all on the teaching/teacher because ultimately it will be nothing the teacher says but some experiment you make yourself that will keep you ‘in’. So YOU fall out. Your success is not RANDOM. Your success IS ‘YOU’ get back in. YOU have another go. YOU have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. You are Yogi. Now you KNOW: Falling out is a valuable aspect of the process. Get good with that because FALLING OUT IS AN HONOURABLE STATE…

Om Om Om the person who does the work is the only one who learns


June 2017