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The human body is extremely dynamic and adaptable and the mother of all invention, but its purpose, according to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho author of 1The Rainbow and The Worm is metabolism, a less than existential answer to Erwin Schrodinger’s question, 2What is life? As it turns out building heat is what the human body was designed to do, a certain paradox of building tapas to constantly stoke an unquenchable fire, this is one our relative purposes as beings. As each of us starts out in life we emerge as a primitive streak, a boundless epicenter of infinitesimal potential, born from two bodies that dwelt at around 98.6 degrees.
This is the optimal environment for internal life as we know it called homeostasis, where the sympathetic and para-sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system embrace in a delicate balance. The primitive streak emerges from a coupling of the x and y chromosomes’ attempt to reproduce life which eventually evolves into the three germ layers known as the endo, ecto, and mesodermal layers. Some of the first structures to form are the central nervous and the cardio- pulmonary systems. The primitive streak becomes permeated with the brain mushrooming on one end and the heart, lungs and diaphragm ballooning from the mid line to jump start the journey of life through pranayama. These three germ layers work in synergy to produce the final product that we all know and love as the human body.
The human body is like an incubator, an exoskeleton that’s hosting this warm moist environment for other levels of unseen life dependent on a warm moist environment. This hydrated metabolizing environment is the product of the exoskeleton’s duty to continually “re-fresh” itself much like the screen on your laptop or smart phone must do for you to constantly receive the freshest real-time update available. Hydration regulates temperature, removes waste, lubricates the body, signals information and refreshes the body at the cellular level.
The human body also has many objectives but its primary focus is life, or more simply put, survival. Survival is based on our ability to be adaptable and to navigate the many terrains of life. As yogi’s we practice pranayama, meditation, asana and inquiry to navigate the polyvagal potentials and in this moment the heat builds and the fluids flow. All of the primitive structures from formation work synergistically to create the perfect environment for grace under pressure.
Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau, author of the 3Architecture of Human Living Fascia, has used microscopy in-vitro to reveal that all of the the tissues of the body from the three germ layers, at the cellular level, are ubiquitous fibers awash in a shimmering liquid ground substance of mostly water and a dynamic solute referring to it as a liquid crystalline matrix. The entire internal system is working to heat and hydrate through breath and movement, creating the perfect environment for practice where the boundaries of inside and outside dissolve.
Perspiration serves as a mechanism of thermoregulation, as the external heat rises to match the internal temperature we perspire in direct proportion to their parity; given a few factors like gender, genetics, environmental conditions, physical exertion and weight. As the the temperature of the core warms, the hypothalamus that controls the glandular response signals for the sweat glands to move sweat to the skin where it cools the surface thereby resetting the thermoregulatory set point of the central nervous system. The more a person sweats the better they will feel as long as they continue to rehydrate and refresh.
If someone says they don’t like hot yoga because it’s too hot, makes them sweaty and dehydrated that’s because it’s designed to and its extremely primal, healthy and valuable to rehydrate and refresh daily. Most do yoga for exercise, weight loss, pain management, structural integration, alignment or personal peace. In order to achieve the desired result, we must treat the body like a blacksmith treats the iron, putting it into the fire, working it into the general shape of the form and then bending and working the form only to immerse it into cool watery liquid to create something new and polished. Metabolizing and hydrating are the heating and cooling of the body that cause perspiration, the mechanisms by which we continually rehydrate, refresh and stoke the unquenchable fire.
1 Ho, Mae-Wan. The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms. Singapore: World Scientific, 1998.
2 Schrodinger, Erwin. What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge: UP, 1945.
3 Guimberteau, J. C., and Colin Armstrong. Architecture of Human Living Fascia: The Extracellular Matrix and Cells Revealed through Endoscopy. Edinburgh: Handspring, 2015.