Look ma, no wall!

One of my wishes was to be able to do an unsupported Sirsasana by the end of the year. I didn’t have to wait that long, it happened. And then happened again. Simply because of trying out something a fellow student mentioned. I haven’t tried it in class yet. Maybe in the next one. Of course, looking at a picture made me cringe but I was elated for a while. Still am. The happiness of a child learning to write a complete word. Then, all she wants to do is repeat it until the novelty wears off. 

The academic year is almost at an end and it has been an interesting one. It began with a steep learning curve which slowed down to smaller, quieter steps forward. The knee injury was a good opportunity to pause and rearrange my life a bit. Of course, many old patterns came up alongwith it but overall, it has been a blessing in disguise. It has taught me to be more seeking in my practice rather than just waiting for my teachers to tell me. In the process, I realised it was more the mind I needed to fix than my body. The body heals itself, it is the mind that needs treatment through the body. Just like my teacher says…

In the meanwhile, I found pleasure in swimming while also discovering deep silences under water. The breath has started to become a friend as I let go and surrender to the flow. It is a different experience to be suspended in a medium which can either support or swallow you. As an element, it’s an interesting one to explore through its different aspects. Benign, malevolent, neutral. Three different states- ice, water and steam, all with different gunas. Water in the womb, water in our bodies and on our planet. Universally used by all that lives. Infact, the beginning of life itself. The purifier in all rituals from birth to death and beyond. There is much to learn from contemplating the building blocks of life. It is a theme common in the Upanishads as well. Our rishis of old had pretty much cracked the whole thing and expressed it so eloquently. Despite all the commercialism associated with the sacred art and science of yoga today, the pure truth endures, hidden in plain sight. Quite like the secrets of water under open skies. They invite you to dive deep and dissolve. After all, isn’t life really a preparation for dissolution? A bit like all asana being preparation for savasana…

Hari Om

Of backbends and children 

There’s something very exhilarating about backbends, like a bird spreading its wings to fly. I feel it for a pause before I start a run too. A sense of gathering myself from inside and spreading my wings to take off. Imagination plays a funny role, both in asana practice as well as running. I have this image of a graceful running stride or an aligned urdhva dhanurasana but reality is a different picture. 😊 It makes me smile at the huge disconnect between my perception and reality. Just a small instance of how our outsides reflect our insides. It’s the same with our usual mental and emotional posturing. Case in point, children. 

As a parent, I mean well and have the best interests of my kids. However, it is easy to get caught in the, “Mother knows best” syndrome. Do I really know best? Are my actions and words really from a detached perspective and not a reaction to everyday frustrations? Truthfully, not always. It is a different world now from the one I knew as a child. The paradigms that defined an older period no longer exist and the conflict is beacuse of the eternal loss in translation between an older generation and the current one. 

Two children, as different as chalk and cheese. One, a meticulous, highly organised and driven child and the other a free spirited artist. One who learns well with a structured format and the other who teaches herself what she wants to learn. One who doubts and the other who doesn’t. How did they end up choosing me? Perhaps it is as Khalil Gibran says in The Prophet.

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 

They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. 

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. 

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

It is a great privilege to be a parent but how often do I see it as such. I just get caught up in the current of the day and getting them to do their stuff. Sometimes I would look at a tiny K and wonder aloud, “Where did you come from?” She’d have an impish smile and say from the sky. Actually, it’s not too far from the truth. After all, didn’t Yashoda see the entire universe in little Krishna?
Hari Om

Happy in Dandasana

I’ve been a bit reluctant to attend class lately since most of the asanas are not available to me. My head tells me that I could do my little bit at home instead of going to class. 

Friday was a treat for me despite doing a number of repeats of dandasana, parsva dandasana and paschimottanasana. A class within a class of sorts while the rest of the hall did twists and various other poses. By the end of class, my back felt good and I had a glimpse of tadasana in my buttocks. I left feeling happy.

Danda means punishment or staff and it’s an interesting word considering my current state of recovery from injury. Yama, the Lord of Death, is aptly shown holding the staff, a stiff reminder of the injunctions of ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha. Pretty much in line with the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. Both have death as a common thread, as a means to pay back karmic debt and as punishment for sin. 

What does all that have to do with my knee? Plenty. In retrospect, I violated all the yamas in my desire to run fast. One does not mess with the mighty vows and escape unscathed. How I got here is history, it cannot be changed. But, what I can do about it is what Sutra 2:33 says. As Guruji elaborates, “By raising the weak or dull to the level of the intelligent or strong, the sadhaka learns compassion in action.” Although, compassion is easier practised with other people than with oneself. 

I do miss the road and hope to get back once healed. Unfinished business, you could say, before I hang my running shoes (only I don’t own any😊). Hopefully, I will get back stronger and a little more humble. In the meanwhile, I remain happy in dandasana. After all, it is tadasana, just seated. 

Body talk?

Recently a dear friend said something about ‘the wisdom that my feet communicated with me’. It got me thinking about the feet and the tattvas- internal radio catching bits of static again. I sense an inside understanding of the interconnectedness of it all but can’t quite hear it clearly. 

Perhaps this period of more gentle movement is meant to start looking at the other more esoteric aspects of yoga. Or, is it being precocious? The little I picked up from my readings is enough to warn against uninformed and unguided exploration. Yet, there is a pull and I find it occupying space in the background. The sounds, the colours, the geometry, the symbolism of the deities etc. in freewheeling thought. No messing around, just keeping my ears and eyes open. 

Asanas are few and mostly supported at home and I’ve been using tadasana with a prop quite a bit. My issue cropped up because of poor biomechanics so going back to the basics seemed like a good idea. It seems to be working or perhaps it is a combination of rest, physio exercises, medication and swimming. I’m partial to the asana since I find instantaneous change for a while after removing the brick. The shape of the knee looks a bit different too. An unexpected bonus has been an effortless chaturanga dandasana! That’s a pose I struggle with and I suppose all the physio stuff has helped with core strength. Taking charge of solving my problems, whether they work or not, has brought some freshness to the limited poses. The others will wait for me when I get back. 

Chakra T shirt

Hari Om