My perspective has changed on so many things since I came back from my first month of teacher training in India. As important as āsana is to the yoga practice, the philosophy instruction is what really claimed my heart. It has had such a big effect on my worldview, lifeview, and selfview.
And that’s why I feel compelled to talk about Ed Sheeran’s catchy new song, “Shape of You,” and why the song is so perplexing if you look at it through the lens of yoga philosophy.
First of all, you’ve heard this song, right? It’s on the radio every 5 minutes. And it’s really catchy. And honestly, it’s pretty hot.
(If you haven’t heard it, you can find the song here.)
He sings about going to a bar with his friends because, in his opinion, that’s the best place to find a lover. (Just relaying his message, not judging. ;) ) After he drinks a few shots, a woman walks up and starts talking to him. Next thing you know they’re dancing and he’s professing his love for her body. They spend the night together, then a week later they go on their actual first date.
Whoa, right?! He moves fast! The sexy story draws you in, and before you know it you’re singing along:
C'mon be my baby (c’mon)
C'mon be my baby (c’mon)
I’m in love with your body!
But wait a minute. In love with her BODY? What about the rest of her? And what about when she loses weight/gains weight/becomes a body builder/gets injured or sick/gets pregnant/has surgery/gets old and her body changes? Then what?
And this is where yoga philosophy comes into the conversation.
From a yoga perspective, the Body, the Mind, and the Self (spirit, soul, etc.) are three distinct entities.
The Body is your human form, which, technically, is made up of matter. It includes all the physical body parts and the five senses. From the yoga perspective, the purpose of the Body is to help you navigate the earth throughout this lifetime. The Body is basically a tool that enables you to do your life’s work.
The Mind is responsible for processing information and making decisions. But it cannot work on its own. The Self gives the power to the Mind.
The Self is what makes you You. It’s your personality, your experiences, your goals and priorities, your work ethic, and all the things that are unique to you.
You are not your Mind. You are not your Body. The real you is your Self.
And this is why Ed Sheeran’s cool new song is so interesting to examine through the lens of yoga philosophy. Rather than professing love for the woman’s true Self, he professes love for her Body.
That’s kind of like saying “I’m in love with the vehicle that helps your Self navigate the earth to do your life’s work.”
Which, if we think about it in these terms, sounds kind of nerdy, but also kind of shallow and short-sighted.
And I’m not faulting Ed Sheeran for this! He seems like a very sweet guy and he’s amazingly talented. I admire him a lot.
The type of thinking conveyed in his song is normal and accepted in our society. As a culture, we identify with our bodies to the point of believing that we ARE our bodies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
All my best,