Symbology

The maxim of the Three Wise Monkeys has been popularized by the Kōshin faith in Japan, but seem to have originated initially from China. Though the interpretation of this figure is open to debate, I found the philosophy of the three monkeys to be linked to two important concepts in yoga : the yama "ahimsa" (non-violence) and "satya" (truthfullness). To me, "see no evil" teaches us to see and accept the reality as it is, not as we interprete it. "Speak no evil" teaches us to ponder our words so they are not harming nor misleading others. "Hear no evil" teaches us to not interpret wrongly what we hear, and to use discernment and critical thinking.

I think these are important concepts to implement not only in our every day lives, but in our movement practice as well ; do we let ourselves be dazzled - and discouraged - when we see others moving their bodies in ways we can't ? Or feeling superior when we can move in ways some others can't ? What language do we use to describe ours and other people's bodies and movements ? Do we believe the first thing we hear about what makes a movement "good" or "bad" ?

Monkeys are also associated with agility, natural movement, suppleness and playfulness. Adding the term "wise" made me think of the notion of knowledge, research and care ; I believe that if we move wisely, meaning progressively, with compassion, understanding and attention, we can develop a movement practice that respects our bodies and serves us well, physically and mentally.

movement classes
The personal dimension

Since before I was born, my dad kept a small statue of the Three Wise Monkeys. It was displayed on a shelf for years, before I decided, as a small child, to keep it in my room - I can't recall if I even asked for permission. At that time, I wasn't aware of the meaning of this statue, but I was really fond of it. When I moved from my parents' house, I took it with me and it has been following me ever since - that's the one in the picture above, also visible in the background of my Instagram and Virtual Studio videos.

In my early youth, I started to develop a fascination for Japanese art and culture, which then triggered a bigger interest for Buddhism and Eastern philosophies - that's what ultimately drove me to yoga in the first place. It was in 2019, only a couple months after my Yoga Teacher Training, that I moved to Kyoto for a year and had the chance to teach yoga there. Within this year, my practice and my teaching fundamentaly shifted ; that's when I was exposed to the work of wonderful movement educators questionning common believes about yoga and movement in general, which made me revisit what I thought was right and wrong, which eventually made me changed my job title from "yoga teacher" to "movement teacher". Even though I named my website "threewisemonkeys.club" prior to moving to Japan, the meaning became even stronger after my experience there ; with my growing interest in neurology-based training and exploratory/intuitive movements, I find Three Wise Monkeys to sum up perfectly what my teaching is about.

I took the photo you see on the front page of this website when visiting the Three Wise Monkeys temple in Kyoto. Isn't it a sweet coincidence ?