Charcoal Yoga Dale Cooper

Ode to FBI Agent Dale Cooper…

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Dale Cooper

Having practised yoga for the last 5 years, it’s only been in the last while that I have really begun to love my home practice. That is, the personal practising of yoga postures on my own, first thing in the morning, away from the classroom. I don’t owe this change of heart to an exotic guru, self-help book or lithe Instagramer. No, I owe it all to FBI Agent Dale Cooper.

Fictitious protagonist of the inimitable Twin Peaks, Dale Cooper showed me the true beauty and excitement that can be found in one’s personal yoga practice. I first watched this show in 2012, at which time yoga wasn’t on my horizon. However, a repeat viewing at the start of 2019 re-presented a scene I had entirely forgotten, which went on to have a seismic effect on my perception of self practice…

Cooper awakes with the sun rise. He is still sleepy, with normally immaculate hair in disarray. Stepping from his bed, light spilling in through the window of the Great Northern hotel, our hero walks over to the far side of the room, narrating his thoughts aloud into a dictaphone. Reaching the wall, he throws his pillow to the floor, gets onto hands and knees, and pops up into a headstand, all the while vocalising his thought processes out loud. He talks of his morning “Yogic Procedures” and the way that his headstand has inverted his view, both literally and figuratively. He speaks of trying to see things in a different way, hoping this will help him solve his current case, inviting the posture to become a metaphor for the way he may refresh his interactions with the world…

This was the moment I realised home practice needn’t be a penance, but rather a fecund ground for self reflection, inspiration and creativity. Moreover, the scene showed me that a self-practice didn’t need to be an hour and half long to carry meaning. It didn’t need to draw sweat. It didn’t need me to wear fancy clothes or even roll out a mat. A self-practice was a guy with his hair going all over the place, in pyjamas doing a bad headstand (as much as I love Coop, I can’t condone doing a headstand leaning against a wall with a pillow for cushioning).

Ultimately, this small moment in a true landmark of television nudged me towards a powerful idea; yogic asana can become metaphor. That is, we can enjoy postures for their physical provision, and the mental clarity that may afford, but further than that, they can enable our imaginations and perceptions of reality to take flight. Take Garudasana (eagle posture). Your limbs are bound, hands forming the beak. You are forced to look far beyond the fingers to an unmoving point lest you fall over. The exertion of searching for balance, blended with the demand for unwavering far-sight is immediate and entirely physical. Yet, with your allowance, this posture could become an allegory for the way one looks to the future in order to maintain balance in their present circumstances…

Of course, employing asana as a means of inspiration is not limited to our home practices alone, but I would argue that away from the studios and led-classes, our internal environment has a little extra space to breathe. Nevertheless, I admit solo ‘yogic procedures’ can be difficult to get into gear. Without watchful eyes of a teacher, one can become distracted by all manner of things: school rushes, sleeping partners, breakfast, iPhones… But in following Dale Cooper’s lead, and that aphorism of “little and often”, we can sidestep many of those problems. How easy it is to fit one surya namasakara, some tiger breathing and a little sitting before a 30 second svasana into a busy day. By avoiding the trap of trying to practise for an hour and a half six times a week and failing, we can more consistently open up a state of self reliance, independence and inner exploration. The beauty of home practice is the complete self absorption it can provide, away from your teacher and your class mates. If you can reach it, there is a wide open prairie land of illimitable imagination to enjoy.

That being said, I hope I haven’t talked you out of coming to my classes this week!

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