Tapah, svadhyaya, Ishwara pranidhana

Almost every Wednesday, I listen to the yoga sutras and chant along as I drive to class. Today was no different except for the fact that my mind kept wandering. There’s a troublesome situation in my life right now and I have not had the opportunity to give myself a little time. A housefull of guests including tiny humans (absolutely adorable but also needing a lot of attention) and the usual load of work meant my regular routine going awry. I was in no frame of mind for class but also knew that being there would help bring me back to the present moment. Atleast that one hour in the week is one where I am fully engrossed.
Despite the diffused mind, the first Sutra of the second chapter jumped at me. Something I read in another book about the order of words being of significance in scriptural texts also came to mind and it has been my thought for rumination today. Yoga for me is also like that. Tapah followed by svadhyaya and all of it in a spirit of ishwara pranidhana. My practise and self study of asana, everyday behaviours and thought patterns are my offering to my teachers and her teachers.
Tapah for me is learning the hard way, the right way and not shirking from the discomfort. There is much to gain from the short term pain and frustration. In terms of asana, I find that in a matter of some 30 odd classes over 7 months, there has been a lot of change. Earlier Uttanasana meant flopping down to relax. Just stand and bend down. Now I find engaging my body and following all the cues relaxes me better.
Svadhyaya is a lot of stuff, reading, writing, taking an inventory of my thought patterns and behaviours. Sometimes I cannot practise my asanas but try to keep in touch with the spirit of it in my day to day activities. I see the lack of a lot of things and that keeps me on my toes.
Ishvara pranidhana is my offering up all of it to my teachers and those that went before her. Every time I chant the invocation on my mat, mentally I give the results of the time on the mat to my teachers. My asanas are a result of their teaching, it is not mine. I hope to remain only a student working hard and not attached to visible progress in the shape and form of the pose. I’d like the discovery to be an ongoing exercise.
Lately, I have been working with the back of my legs at home. Uttanasana, parsvottanasana, prasarita paddotanasana etc. and the difference is felt in Adho Mukha Svanasana. I can feel the length of the back of my leg all the way to the butt and a tallness even while looking down.
Today I mustered up enough courage to ask my teacher a question. After savasana today, we rolled to the right , then to the left then to the right again before getting up. We always get up from the right. I finally asked her why and she replied that it was because of the pure flow of energy on that side, it is auspicious. That got me thinking again about the prevalence of right handedness. Was it an inbuilt wiring for maintaining that flow? Then what about the left handed people? Today’s sirsasana learning was a lot of using both sides and I could see that surprisingly my left was easier. Perhaps it is my right side overdoing which doesn’t allow me the evenness. One answer leads to more questions but I find just asking them is enough. The answers appear somehow.
The body mind connection is so real. My shoulder has been acting up a bit and I have found myself slipping into a stoop in avoidance. In Sirsasana today, the left shoulder just couldn’t stay lifted. I see it as a direct symptom of the painful situation in my life currently. We did Setuband Sarvangasana on a brick today and it reminded me of my earlier class. Whenever an option was given between Sarvangasana, Viparita Karani and Setuband Sarvangasana, I used to choose the last one. Something about it gives me a little courage to go on when I think I can’t.

In gratitude for a class today.

5 thoughts on “Tapah, svadhyaya, Ishwara pranidhana

  1. My understanding and experience of the left and right sides is based in the flow/svara in the nostrils, Wherever the flow of air is predominant indicates the predominance of the flow of prana in ida/chandra or pingala/surya nadi. Lying on the right side allows the left channel to open, and that is the ida/chandra/cooling channel which makes sense after a warming asana practice.
    : )

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  2. Since the practice of yoga asana is to balance the “hatha” – surya/chandra channels – I think it makes more sense to check the svara flow in each nostril to see which is dominant at that time (after savasana). If the left channel is dominant (ie the air flows more smoothly through the left nostril), then you lie on the left side, resting the head on the left upper arm, ideally until the svara starts to shift, opening up the right channel (which you will feel in an increased flow in the right nostril). When the svara is balanced, meditation is more effective.

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    1. Thank you yogibattle. Today we had a lovely session at the institute (41st annual day celebrations) and one of the speakers mentioned almost the same things. It was deja vu for me, almost as though my blog found a human voice. Most of my wandering is alone and personal experience so validation from other experiences assures me that I am on the path. Will post about the talks once I unscramble the jottings.

      Liked by 1 person

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