yoga bear…

This picture is one of several taken by Meta Penca, a 29 year old web programmer from Slovenia, of Santra the bear doing her exercises at the Ahtari Zoo in Finland. Strangely, or not so strangely, this is exactly the same as the yoga posture Merudasana, Balancing Bear Posture (rather more prosaically also known as Upavishta Konasana, Seated Angle Posture.) Taking this name into account and comparing the two photographs, it seems obvious to me where the idea came from – it seems unlikely the bear is copying some human.

In the past humans learned a lot from animals. Yoga is filled with examples, then so is T’ai Chi (a part of one form is called White Crane Flaps Wings). Now you might say that the reason for this is because our forebears (*grin* no pun intended) were much closer to nature. However, I imagine that bears were no easier to watch then than they are now in our zoos, books or TV. I would suggest the real difference is that our forebears actually considered animals worth learning from. For them, the gap between us and animals was much smaller. Clearly by the time our civilizations began industrializing this gap had grown almost unbridgeable (some of this is down to religion, but that’s another issue).
If it had not it is hardly to be supposed that Darwin’s revelations about our origins would have caused quite so much consternation. In spite of now knowing that we are directly descended from apes (and they from other creatures all the way back to the first organism), we still have an ‘us and them’ attitude to our fellow animals. That we no longer feel we have anything to learn from them is an example of our hubris, and is not just our loss, but also theirs…

Posted by Ricardo

writer and blogger

10 Replies to “yoga bear…”

  1. As for the us/them thing with animals and our own animality:
    (lots of Heidegger in this one)

    As for we not learning from animals, there’s actually a lot of scientific research trying to mimic animal features… Does this not count?


    1. again, I only really came across Heidegger recently, and have read nothing by him – so as in Foucault, I must be channeling him *grin*

      yes, we are learning a lot from animals, but treating them as resources, as machines whose function we can copy to improve our machines… what I was talking about was learning from animals as we might from a teacher, treating them with respect and as entities like ourselves…


      1. Channeling? More like impersonating, especially after that last one.
        I really really think you’d love to read that book. A plus: it’s minuscule.


        1. oops, hadn’t noticed the link to the book – not so obvious when replying from within ‘wordpress’… please tell me more about it… since I might have to buy it to read it…


          1. It’s about the history of the split between man and animal, and how it was construed along the ages, and how it is ultimately pointless. One of the main points is that the interesting part in each different age is not how man or animal is defined, but how the caesura is defined, since that’s where everything is played out. And, in the end, Heidegger wins. ^^

            Also, no, you won’t necessarily have to buy it. *wink wink*


            1. Senhor Cardoso, you wouldn’t be trying to involve me in anything illegal? *grin*


              1. Me? Moi? Eu? Jamais! 😀


  2. interesting how we prefer to leave comments in a “public” space like facebook
    than to leave one here

    at some stage
    the distinction between article and comment will be somewhat permeable…
    bring on the new net 🙂

    as for your point
    we’ve all lost connection and learning wrt our animal fraternity
    and continue to do so
    at terrible rates of loss of habitats due to eg deforestation


    1. I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from where the comments are located – even though I tend to agree with you – because since the ‘portal’ for those people who have commented there is located on facebook, it is natural to respond there than here…
      your comment about ‘distinction between article and comment’ is for me rather ambiguous… not sure which of several possible meanings you mean…
      as for losing contact with our animal brothers, it seems to me that the loss of habitat is a symptom, not a cause…


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