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ERIC Number: EJ1030490
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 53
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1857
Yoga from the Mat up: How Words Alight on Bodies
McIlwain, Doris; Sutton, John
Educational Philosophy and Theory, v46 n6 p655-673 2014
Yoga is a unique form of expert movement that promotes an increasingly subtle interpenetration of thought and movement. The mindful nature of its practice, even at expert levels, challenges the idea that thought and mind are inevitably disruptive to absorbed coping. Building on parallel phenomenological and ethnographic studies of skilful performance and embodied apprenticeship, we argue for the importance in yoga of mental access to embodied movement during skill execution by way of a case study of instruction and practice in two related traditions, Iyengar and Anusara. Sharing a pose repertoire, they are based on distinctive philosophical systems with different teaching styles and metaphoric structures. To address relations between pedagogy and practice in embodied expertise, and to investigate the reciprocal influences of embodiment and thought, we explore in detail the linguistically mediated learning context where practitioners work with yoga teachers. Here, the mind/body problem comes to practical life. We demonstrate the effects of words on bodies, as knowledge is literally incorporated. We show why interpersonal influence on our movement capacities is sometimes needed to enhance expertise. We theorize and identify "signature patterns of tension" among practitioners. These patterns have four sources: ghost gestures, innate differences in bodily form, functional fusing, and signature patterns of affective experience, modulation and expression. These patterns of tension produce "silent zones", cognitively impenetrable actions, functional fusing of a skilful, compensatory form, and signature patterns of pain and damage. We show how instruction can disrupt these silent zones, enhancing mental and physical flexibility.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A