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. 

Sitting down

Lately, I have been exploring the seated asanas, particularly dandasana, upavishtakonasana and baddakonasana. The legs seem to have a mind of their own and are reluctant to go where I want them to. Stubborn and dull. So, I patiently stay until their resistance wears away and they become amenable to settling down. It is a different way of practising compared to the earlier exerted way of pushing to move. Most of the time, I need to push to learn the correct movements and alignment for better endurance. However, these slower explorations are no less intense.

These poses are helping to ease my knees and get a little freedom from tight runner groins. The standing asanas also seem to have benefited from the seated ones. Today, I got out for a run after a long time and noticed better knee alignment while in motion. There was symmetry and barely any sensation of overuse of one leg. 

Last week of the month classes are a prep to pranayama and it is usually difficult for me to get my mind to slow down. But yesterday’s class was a different experience. It was so silent inside, quietness so quiet that it felt as though my breath had stopped! I still don’t think I am ready to try it on my own yet. A good asana practice itself is not possible everyday!

Japa sadhana is troublesome as my mind wanders and I want to quit. But I sit and complete it even as I see my powerlessness over the thoughts that rise. Somedays, it is easier to observe and gather attention but most days it is like watching a child run riot and being helpless to do anything. Frustrating. But, eventually the child tires and has to settle down. Perhaps the mind will also tire itself out and be still. 

I question myself about my reasons to sit down and all I can come up with is to become a capable sadhaka. A fit instrument. The earlier days were fresh and it seemed light and as though I was on track. Now it is a hard and barren landscape, a struggle to keep going. It’s been just a paltry few months but my mind wants instant gratification. Come to think of it, this tendency defeats the very purpose of the whole exercise. One good thing is that I have sustained a daily practice despite the resistance. Perhaps if I do it often enough, it will become refined by itself.

Sometimes it seems like there is a constant endeavour and dissatisfaction but I have never been as content and at ease in my life. Often, it feels like a dream, a rich private world that draws me and the one outside where I still have to play my roles.

Hari Om