Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A cocooned blob

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Among many, many things that I'm grateful for, I'm grateful for that sensation that hot yogis know intimately well: the hot room blob. You know the feeling: your legs are weak, your arms are jello, and you seriously doubt your spine is still inside your body.

OK, I freakin' hate that feeling, and it usually comes sometime around Triangle, and sometimes it makes me sit out sets of the poses.

But, as I learned today, being a blob is not such a bad thing.

Many of you already know about this lovely biological wonder, but my literature and yoga-oriented self somehow missed the day in science class when the teachers talked about how caterpillars change into a butterfly. The process fits so perfectly with what happens in the hot room.

Apparently, caterpillars do not create a cocoon, go to sleep, and simply grow wings. The entire structure of their bodies have to dissolve first before they can turn into a butterfly. As this cheesy but kinda cool website explains, the caterpillar dissolves into a blob, breaking itself down. Kind of depressing to think that you could break open a cocoon at one point during the development and see nothing but ooze, huh?

But then, these special little "imaginal cells" start cropping up, and they become more and more numerous and overtake the blobby cells. As the author of the website notes, "Eventually, [the imaginal cells] become a large community and they switch gears from simply being a group of like-minded cells into the programming cells of the butterfly."

That is the metamorphosis. The caterpillar probably doesn't have this great awareness about its fate and how it's going to change. Yet somehow, the caterpillar knows to eat a lot, create the chrysallis, and allow its body to break down and transform.

The relationship between this biological process and yoga is obvious, right? The heat and the poses breaks us down, allowing ourselves to grow into something better. None of us have really attained our butterfly statuses, but we somehow know that we've got to allow our "selves" to break down. Something is there, and once we allow the process to happen, nature/god/whatever will take its course and the right thing will emerge from the chrysallis.

Maybe the whole cocoon/transformation thing can be a meditation point for tough moments in the hot room, huh?

(You know, I wanted to post a cool nature picture here. But you also know if you've been following my blog for a while that my one weird phobia is caterpillars. Maybe appreciating their process will ease that phobia just a bit more :-)


thedancingj said...

I've been meaning to say, I REALLY like this. I love the idea that to transform, you can't just go from point A to point B; you have to completely dissolve yourself in between. That works on SO many levels. Thanks for this one!

Yolk E said...

De nada :-) Jack Kornfield narrates this beautifully in a recent talk. Total yoga crossover!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful analogy, thanks again for another awesome post! I love your writing :-)


Yolk E said...

Xoxo, Torri :-) Thanks, as always. And know that I stay caught up with your blog, too! Love keeping up with ya.

ellelove7 said...

Oh snap, E... I may have to meditate on this... "I am in the cocoon." :)

hannahjustbreathe said...

This took me all the way back to Mr. Sanderson's 8th grade biology class! Awesome. Love it. As always. :)

Ladiladida said...

You always write such great blogs that are down-to-earth AND informative. Bravo! I love thinking of fluidity in my practice and development and not so much set-points A and B so this image of "oozing" is awesome. :)

Catherine said...

Haha, Hannah! I work with a Mr. Sanderson (whose job it is to taste wine, not teach biology [unfortunately]).

Yolk E said...

Yay for oozing! And thanks for that kind compliment, Ladiladida :-)

And I never knew a Mr. Sanderson! I feel like I am missing out.