Mar 4, 2011


I love yoga. I was twenty years old when I first tried it, and it was joy. I loved how strong I felt, how my muscles looked long and lean in the poses, and mostly I loved the self-acceptance that it brought. The lesson that you accept your body for what it can do that day, you acknowledge your distractions and then let them go, the requirement of accepting and thanking the body for the work it does for you, and honoring those who have practiced with you. Each practice was closed with a bow and a repeat of "Namaste", which means "the spirit in me recognizes and honors the spirit in you."

"Namaste" is a phrase that I felt applied to the study of human anatomy. I spent hundreds of hours in the anatomy lab, looking at cadavers, memorizing each bony prominence and tiny vessel and nerve. It was arduous, and even though a lot of times I would rather not have been there, I felt a connection with the cadavers. Their bodies gave me clues to their life and possibly their death, and I felt like I knew them and a little of their story even though we had never met. I could recognize how my own body worked by viewing theirs. I could profoundly accept that human anatomy is essentially universal, that we are much the same.

I saw "Body Worlds" recently, which is an exhibit of human anatomy with preserved specimens. Many bodies were placed in positions of movement, like dance, running, or hitting a baseball. While it is a controversial exhibit for some, I loved the celebration of movement in the bodies. It reminded me of yoga, how much joy could come out of one's anatomy and movement. And I loved how it brought the amazement that I was privileged to have in the anatomy lab to millions of people who otherwise wouldn't experience human anatomy. It shows the universality of the human condition, how we recognize and honor others through the study of anatomy.

So as I cover my cadaver gently with formaldehyde-soaked towels, zip up the body bag, and return him to the refrigerator, I almost want to bow to him, saying "Namaste." The spirit in me recognizes and honors the spirit in you.

In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.
-Philosopher Johann van Goethe

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog. Namaste, Little Doc.