I was delighted to see Yoga Dork publicising Rob Osborne’s posters of characters from Star Wars doing yoga asanas. They are unbelievably cool and I think that every yogi – or indeed Star Wars fan – should have one.
This fusion is very exciting and the similarities between George Lucas’ cult films and the ancient Indian practice are endless.
“Use the Force Luke.”
In yoga, the breath is our life force or ‘prana’. By breathing deeply we re-energise our bodies and increase the level of prana. Like the Force, you can’t see prana but you know it’s there – it’s everywhere. It’s your aura or presence and people who you may naturally gravitate towards – like celebrities or world leaders – have high levels of prana.
Also, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talk about people having ‘siddhis’ or supernatural powers resulting from practising yoga. I reckon Luke definitely had a few siddhis tucked up his sleeve.
Yoda: the pint-size prophet
And you would be a fool to think that the word ‘yoga’ is only one letter away from ‘Yoda’ by mere coincidence! He came out with some yogic gems. Take this one for example:
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”
In yoga, we talk about detachment. Swami Sivananda liked a chant that went along the lines of “I am not this body, I am not this mind, I am not these senses… I am that I am” meaning that you’re really just the ‘atman’ or soul. Your physical body gets left behind when you die so what’s the point in being so attached to it? It’s your soul that lives on.
There’s also the idea that we are all students. You might teach yoga, but you’ll always remain a student. Yoda echoes this sentiment:
“But when the day comes that even old Yoda does not learn something from his students, then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.”
When you think about Disney films such as Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast, they’re all about looking within, connecting with the inner being and not getting caught up with superficial things like appearance. And that brings us onto one of my favourites, Kung Fu Panda. The turtle Master Oogway is rather Yoda-esque in appearance and has some great lines:
“The mind is like dishwater, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”
In yoga we talk about the mind being like a lake and being able to see to the bottom when it’s undisturbed. Also, the Tibetan Lama and author of the ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, Sogyal Rinpoche, says similar in his teachings. Between you and me, I think Yoda could have been based on him…
So I think there’s lots that can be learnt from popular culture – not all of it, just some select bits – and likewise the thinking behind yoga has relevance to all of our lives. And Mr Vader could definitely benefit from doing some pranayama. Might calm his breathing down a bit.