Sunday, November 1, 2009

Order in Diversity

Within the vast diversity of nature there is a divine order. This order can be represented mathematically even though all of nature is living and breathing and changing. The Fibonacci numbers, and the Golden Ratio that is related to them, are part of this divine order.

Fibonacci numbers are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc. Each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. These numbers are found abundantly in nature. Seashells, sunflowers, branches of trees, human and animal body proportions, galaxies, DNA, the solar system all have an order containing these numbers.

When you divide each fibonacci number by the preceding number, the ratio approaches the "Golden Ratio" also known as phi. This number is an irrational number that is never actually reached but is approximated by 1.618. The ratio is obtained by dividing consecutively larger fibonacci numbers, and it alternates being slightly above or slightly below phi. For example 3/2=1.5 (below phi) and 5/3=1.666 (above phi). So there is a pulsation above and below the mean. The decimals go on forever without repeating.

People, animals, plants, art and architecture that we perceive as beautiful all contain the proportions of phi or 1 to 1.618. Dolphins, tigers, patterns on moths and butterflies, penguins and the human body have proportions with the Golden Ratio. Your total height is 1.618 times the height of your belly button. The human body is built according to the Golden Ratio. Phi proportions are found in many works of art such as the Mona Lisa, the Parthenon, the pyramids of Egypt, and Michaelangelo's David.

Phi cannot be written as a ratio because the decimals are infinite. The exact value of phi can never be reached but the journey towards it reveals much of the beauty of nature. In yoga the perfect pose is elusive. Each pose is slightly different for everyone because we are all unique. The journey towards perfecting our yoga poses will teach us many things about our body and how to pulse with the breath. Just as the values of phi obtained from increasing fibonacci numbers alternate above and below the Golden Ratio, in yoga we alternate between drawing into our center and expanding out toward our edges.

There is order in nature and there is order in yoga. The diversity in nature can make it difficult to see the order, and the diversity of yoga poses can make it difficult to see the order that is the same in all the poses. The order is expressed in the actions. Every pose requires stabilizing the foundation with muscular energy, aligning our bodies and moving from the core.

Seeing how the same patterns are repeated in so many diverse life forms and how every yoga pose works with the same principles, suggests that there is something bigger to our world than can be seen or explained by the rational mind. But to open up and be receptive to this energy or power or spirit can help us to feel supported, connected and empowered on our journey.

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