"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” –Pablo Picasso
This quote appeared at the beginning of The Art of Yin Yoga chapter in Ulrica Norberg´s book titled Yin Yoga: An Individualized Approach to Balance, Health, and Whole Self Well-Being. I have to admit that it was not a quote that I would have expected to be in a yoga book so naturally, I became curious about its meaning and its relation to Yin Yoga.
In the chapter, Ulrica mainly discusses the topic of tension; emotional, mental, and physical. Yoga enables us to release this tension and therefore create a more peaceful inner self. The yogis believe that the release of tension can be shown in several different forms. Ulrica illustrates some of these ways including:
-Emotional Release (good or bad emotions)
-Muscular spasms or releases
According to Pablo Picasso, this destruction, or release, must happen before an act of creation. So, in the destruction of tension what are we then creating? Through a dedicated yoga and meditation practice, positive energy replaces the negative thoughts and tensions that we previously experienced. Positive energy is what we need to improve our mental and physical health from the inside out. With that internal change and "when our health stabilizes and we are able to keep our balance better, we can make a larger impact on the world around us” says Ulrica.
Let's take this back a step though and think about our closest relationships and how this positive energy can affect the people who we interact with day to day. How many times have we excused our own rude or aggressive behavior by claiming, "sorry but I am just so stressed right now."? Even if we don't acknowledge it, internal stress and tension is usually at the root of a harsh comment made or an argument that could have been avoided. If nothing else, tension makes us feel lousy and therefore we are not able to provide emotionally for the people around us.
In an excerpt from The Monk who Sold his Ferrari the author, Robin Sharma, also adequately addresses Picasso's idea of creation and destruction. To paraphrase from the book, a student and his teacher are seated together when the student holds out his cup for the teacher to serve him tea. He fills the student's cup but soon the cup is full and the tea starts to pour over its edges and onto the floor. The student is confused and asks the teacher why he keeps pouring tea into his already full cup? The teacher responds, "Just like this cup, you seem to be full of your own ideas. And how can any more go in... until you first empty your cup."
It can seem scary to 'empty our cups' because it is what we know and with what we are familiar. Over time, yoga allows us to gradually tip out the past tensions of our emotional, mental, and physical self. As drops of stress and negative thought patterns are destroyed, yoga replaces them with the positive energy that we need to change ourselves thus changing how we perceive the world around us. Destruction and creation, yin and yang, sun and moon, lightness and darkness - one does not exist without the other.
And now to end on a lighter note and as an homage to my true favorite Pablo out there, please enjoy these photos of my adorable pup (Fun Fact: Pablo is actually not named after Pablo Picasso but Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet).