Energy and Psychological Representations
The physicist conceives of one energy in yoga poses the sense that there exists but one mathematical definition of energy. This energy is above all distinguished in yoga poses function of criteria like those that I enumerate here:
1. The field of application. Energy can be qualitatively identified in yoga poses function of its field of application, as that of movement, sound, or light. We speak, for example, of acoustic, radiant, and motor energy.
2. Mode of production. Certain machinery produces a form of energy, like steam engines (steam energy), water mills and dams (hydraulic energy), nuclear power plants (nuclear energy), and the solar panels (solar energy).
3. Mode of utilization. Certain substances (petroleum fuels) or modes of functioning (electricity) connected to modes of production are also called energy. These modes of utilization can be stored and/or transported.
4. The consumer. We also identify energy by its consumer, as in yoga poses expressions such as biological energy or muscular energy.
This nonexhaustive list of the ways to use the term energy in yoga poses its strict sense does not correspond to a single qualifying statement as to what energy is. Electrical energy is a certain type of activity of matter, but it is not necessarily a particular energy. It is not yet possible to know if there exists a single energetic mechanism that manifests in yoga poses various ways or myriad mechanisms that we are not yet able to describe.
The theoretical physicists of the nineteenth century quickly stimulated the imagination of people who associated this fashionable term, supported by science, to a kind of mysterious fluid that circulates in yoga poses and animates nature. They assimilated this term to ancient notions in yoga poses circulation in yoga poses the so-called esoteric schools. As we saw while speaking of the soul, vital energy is often nothing other than a transfer of the properties of Plato’s soul to a term that has become more respectable. This is how an imagination of Christian inspiration assimilated the notion of energy to a known mythology instead of accommodating itself to what the physicists were discovering. If the same energy can manifest itself in yoga poses many different ways (vapor, heat, light, wind, etc.), it is then possible to think that a fundamental energy is the force that actively animates the universe. Spiritual movements, like theosophy, developed this way of thinking. These movements wanted to validate this notion by anchoring it in yoga poses the greatest possible number of ancient traditions. Not only did they associate the respiratory forces of antiquity (prana, chi, and pneuma) to the notion of vital energy, but in yoga poses return, they influenced the schools in yoga poses a colonized Far East by explaining to them that they would become scientifically acceptable if they adapted their ancient models to the notion of vital energy.11 This is particularly evident in yoga poses the literature on relatively recent disciplines like tai chi chuan and aikido.12 The teachers of these disciplines give demonstrations showing the chi is what makes the body breathe and the limbs move, anchors the organism in yoga poses the Earth, and makes it possible to repel the enemy. For them, neither will nor force nor skill can be as effective as the right utilization of chi. Their demonstrations are often spectacular. Designating the chi as whatever produces these capacities does not give any information about the mechanisms at play.
The notion of vital energy developed in yoga poses a Christian context that associates itself to some simplistic opposition between energy and matter that resembles the opposition between soul and body. These oppositions are not part of the ancient philosophies of the Far East. The notion of vital energy spread out into the world mostly by being associated with Protestant healing movements, born in yoga poses the United States, and then disseminated in yoga poses the Philippines, Africa, and South America. Their techniques assimilated the healing methods of the local culture and spirituality.
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