Having new definitions under your belt – or your Jedi robe – helps you understand yourself and the great big cosmos around you and the interfaces in between. And I certainly learned enough Klingon to know that sometimes there is a particular flair to a word in another language that just doesn’t come through the translation. Bearing in mind that I’m a padawan in my knowledge of yoga philosophy, here are some terms you might want to know about the practice in Sanskrit – an ancient and, most notably, IRL language – with a fandom twist. qapLa!
A union – a joining together of different things into one. This can be joining the physical with the mental and spiritual, or the individual with the cosmic. Practiced through meditation and asanas (poses). Kind of like our fandoms – our individual passions joined together to study a set of images and ideas. Both the Jedi and Doctor Strange join the physical with the spiritual in a way that seems very yoga to me.
Life energy, also called chi in Chinese. Star Wars provides us with the perfect fandom analogy: the Force – binding together all living things. The common yoga chant “Om” or “Aum” is also all about the interconnectedness we all share – more on Star Wars, the Force, and Om here.
A spot on the forehead that is considered a center for intuition and insight and even a sixth sense, or possibly the source of a hunch. The Ancient One presses on this spot in Stephen Strange’s forehead when she introduces him to the mystic arts.
A safe or a sacred space, possibly a place you can practice yoga. To me, the TARDIS, the Enterprise, Hogwarts. In fact, I think heroes’ cloaks can act like a wearable shala.
A seal or a closure; a certain position of the hands and fingers used to direct the body’s energy. Even outside of yoga, my hands can be in certain postures to direct my energy. They can be poised over a keyboard, ready to transmit my geeky ideas and theories. They can be folded, helping me to analyze what’s going on. They can be extended out towards the tv, aghast at the stories I see told. Our hands are our interface with the world in so many ways – it makes sense that positioning them will help us focus.
A spiritual teacher – and fandom is rife with these! Star Wars alone has presented us with many master/padawan pairs, some more successful than others, but all full of a close bond that conveys learning and insight. Check out some of my favorite master mentors of fandom and what we can learn from them!
Living in a dutiful, virtuous way, a “right way of living.” In other words, as I see it, pretty much every virtue extolled in every speech Captain Picard made. The first duty of a Starleet officer is to the truth… and to upholding the rights of the other (including androids), and to basically seek out new life and new civilizations and to do right by them.
A body pose in yoga, used to help keep the body healthy and to prepare the mind for meditation. Our fandoms are full of these, as well, even when the characters aren’t specifically practicing yoga. How we move and how we pause tells us so much about where we are going and why – key elements to understanding life through both a fandom lens and a personal lens. Here are the top fandom/pop culture poses from the last few years to pursue.
Bliss, but also defined by Madeline L’Engle in “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” as “the joy in existence without which the universe will fall apart and collapse” – the name of a loyal dog, appropriately enough. L’Engle’s works are so rich with the depictions of both horror and joy, of hate and of love, she really earns the use of this beautiful word.
To place things in a special way; specifically, to link yoga poses with breathing in a sequence. To me, it’s traveling through time in a ways that make sense, per your teacher’s instruction. You might not know why things should be this way, but you are always glad you trusted the process when your body is worked evenly and your mind is at peace.
Four Branches of Yoga
Bhakti Yoga – Seeing the divine in all creation – just like Anne of Green Gables, little Orphan Annie, and Anna from Frozen!
Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Tantra Yoga