My Distant Ancestor…

lived in East Africa some 60,000 years ago. He himself was descended from a woman who lived some 150,000 years ago. They are your ancestors too; the Human Genographic project reveals that all modern DNA is inherited from these two people. I’ve become fascinated with this project – it’s a partnership of the National Geographic Society and the company I work for. The idea is to use modern technology and the computing power it offers to draw detailed conclusions for the first time on how our species populated the planet and how they evolved as they did so.

All of us are ultimately African – our ancestors ventured out of that continent after the last Ice Age. As they made their way across the planet in different directions, their genes mutated periodically leaving a genetic trail – markers which are inherited by us that reveal exactly how they made their way to where they ended up. The project uses the DNA of the few remaining indigenous peoples as ‘signposts’ against which our own more ‘scrambled’ DNA can be compared to draw these conclusions.

I’ve even chosen to participate by offering my own DNA to the global research database that they are developing to delineate this migratory history. In return I’ll get a detailed analysis of my personal DNA – I’ll learn about my own ancestors and their genetic and physical journeys.

We’re all cousins separated by just 2,000 generations. That’s all. We are one people. It’s a mind-shifting fact that irrevocably alters that way you think about the world. Concepts like ‘Race’, ‘Nation’ or ‘Country’ are rendered utterly meaningless.

What does this have to do with my practice? Well Yoga does teach us to see humanity, or even all existence, as one. But for me today, the connection is banal; I stayed up late watching a fascinating documentary that the Genographic Project sent me with my DNA Sample Kit. After my late night I got up feeling tired with a headache. This affected my practice which was consequently a sorry affair.

I still practiced. More to the point, I wanted to practice.

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