Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. In her essay “To fly while crouched…”, which was written as part of a project for Nick Martino’s Global Studies class, 10th grader River W. draws upon her love of yoga to explain how India is able to function in spite of the contradictory factors that should seemingly prevent it.
I grew up with a highly unusual lifestyle. As a child, I would sit in yoga classes and smokejumper bases, staring in awe at the mature and glittering world of adults. And like any unusual situation, I soon became so accustomed that I didn’t even notice it was out of place. Yoga, permeating nearly all aspects of my life even then, seemed like something that was simply necessary to daily life. I was in first grade when I began to realize that most of my classmates had never even heard of yoga, much less actually gone to a class. As I got older, life made its occasional clashes with my yogic abilities: dance rehearsals and homework, injuries and social events. But it always seemed that I would come back to it when I felt my life getting out of hand.
There’s one pose in particular that I’ve grown to love: the Eagle Pose, or Garudasana. When translated to English, Garuda is often equated with Eagle. More accurately, it’s a mythical bird found in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Garuda is said to be the “king of birds,” as it’s the preferred transport of the Hindu God Vishnu. Because of it’s extraordinary ability to fly without having to land, the Gardua is often described with the word outrageous. The bird never has to stop flying because it never gets tired; it never gets tired because it has learned how to ride the wind.
I love this pose for so many reasons. You have to twist in on yourself, wrapping limbs in ways that many deem impossible. But at the same time, you rise up, lifting your whole body from the ground. One foot stays balanced, everything relying on the stability and symbiosis of the foot and the ground.
To me, this pose holds so many comparisons to India. It’s a contradiction, the idea of rising off of the ground while staying crouched on one foot, and India is a massive contradiction as well. Religions, politics, size, multitude — with these factors, India wouldn’t seem to work on paper. But it does. Like the Garuda, I feel India has learned to rise from its energy. If a train is late, no one seems to care. There’s no need for traffic laws or exact schedules. The entire country has learned to ride this crazy stream of energy, to accept it.
To some, yoga is just a word; others, a sequence of poses. But once you start looking for connections, there seems to be so much more.