The focus on Wednesday’s class was the dorsal region and there were brisk adjustments through the hall. I found it a little easier today since I find myself doing a lot of concave back Uttanasana and prasarita paddotanasana through odd times during the day to release the back. Ever since I got a sense of that area when a teacher adjusted me, I’ve tried to access that part of my back in my poses. The first time I sensed that region, it was an immediate infusion of a more expansive breath.
Our teacher mentioned how Guruji used to say that you have to cut your chest open for heart surgery but he did it through his back. I walked differently the whole day after class!
Yogibattle talks about the asanas helping to absorb and filter out unpleasantness at the chakra level. My earlier yoga teacher would get us to mentally repeat the beej mantras associated with the chakras as we worked on different poses. At times, savasana would be a guided one where the entire body was scanned along with the corresponding sounds. During one of those sessions, I saw Om. It was inexplicable, I don’t mean seeing the symbol of the sound just seeing the sound, a cross sensory experience. It was an explosion of white and lasted for less than a fraction of a second but it was a full moment that felt timeless. It never happened again but there is no doubt about that experience. Later I found that there is a medical term for the phenomenon- synesthesia.
Reflecting on yogibattle’s post and looking at the changes in my thought and behaviour, I can see the ‘sneaky’ effects of an asana practice. A better ability to express myself, a more open heart, vigour, stamina and a happier disposition. Just standing straight in Tadasana taught me to stand tall and fearlessly and I see it in the mirror. I don’t need to really roll my shoulders behind anymore for the straight and wide line. A recent picture of my back in tadasana showed me the fall of the fabric and it was like a curtain, quite symmetrical on both sides. Not that I’ve mastered it but more a natural progression towards change. It is a pose I can endlessly study and one that constantly opens up new insights as I learn to access other areas while simply standing.
For someone who walked around with hunch and suffered chronic pain in the neck, shoulders and arms due to cervical spondylosis, this new openness in the shoulders is nothing short of the transformative power of yoga. I believe all illness and pain is symptomatic of deeper mental, emotional and spiritual imbalances. While I can blame an earlier desk job, long hours and an unhealthy lifestyle, the root of my problem probably lay in my inability to to express myself especially where my needs were concerned, an inability to filter out negative thoughts. Perhaps that explains why ‘ham’ is the first beej mantra that comes to mind and the throat when it comes to focusing on an area. Another one would be ‘Yam’ while dealing with a heavy heart and ‘Lam’ for tired legs, sometimes while running too. Even when chanting silently, these syllables had the power to energize.
I don’t know anything about the chakras and have consciously stayed away from learning anything about it at this time. I would like a solid and undistracted base in asana before I start exploring further. The little that I remember is from my time with the earlier yoga teacher. She used to play ragas before the class started and sometimes got one of the students to sing certain notes so that we could use the same frequency as we silently chanted it in our minds. I would make notes after class and that helped me to remember the sounds and corresponding areas in the body. I now have a ready reckoner to look at, a RIMYI tee!
The ceaseless flow of discriminative knowledge in thought, word and deed destroys ignorance, the source of pain.
-Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar
This is my thought for the day and the reason for it is sound, the sound of the word ‘aviplava’- described as undisturbed, unbroken, unfluctuating, unfailing…
It’s a word that has been rolling in my head since a few days and the image it paints for me is one of complete presence in the moment- unbroken, undisturbed being. An ideal to work towards. I like the completeness of the three aspects of thought, word and deed attached to the word. It’s such a short and complete explanation of how to do away with avidya, the foremost of the kleshas and the cause for all pain. The more I think about it, the more I see it’s simplicity yet it is such a difficult thing to do for even a moment, let alone maintain it for consequent moments.