Uthita Sthithi

Standing Asanas. Everytime, my mind takes off at rocket speed, I know I need standing poses. There is something about the firmness in the legs that anchors body and mind. I’ve been feeling flighty lately with extremely packed days. So, prescribed a week 1 kind of practice and threw in an abhyanga for good measure.

Practice took a beating this last week with 12-14 hour working days. All I could manage was some releases to ease creaky pains for a short bit early in the day. But today I was up super early and got a solid practice in. I’ll probably ache later in the evening or tomorrow but it will be a sweet reminder of the coursing energy that tells me I am alive. 

Last evening, while I was watching the Obi-Wan series, I thought about how our true selves are hidden from us. How little do we know of the vastness that lies below our waking selves. It is something the texts talk about but every once in a while, there is a sudden dawning, if only momentarily, of those truths. And then they sink under like a big, blue whale. 

I am reminded of how Jambavan needed to remind Hanuman that he was the son of the Wind and had great power within him. Hanuman is a wonderful symbol to explore the various concepts like Yukti, Shakti, Bhakti. They are a progression as well as a base. As a student, it shows as both a continuum and a blossoming. Cyclical. 

A good start to dive into another maddeningly busy day. 

Wall Adho Mukha Vrikashasana and half, Column Pincha Mayurasana and half, Uttanasana, Dandasana, Trikonasana, Parvakonasana, Ardha Chandrasana, Uttanasana, Upavishtakonasana, Supta Padangustasana 1 and 2, Prone Tadasana, Sirsasana, Ek pada Sirsasana, Halasana, Sarvangasana, Niralamba Sarvangasana, Savasana

Bridge over troubled times

2019 is long over but the calendar from last year still hangs where I see it up close. My eyes stray to it multiple times in the course of the day and as the month progresses, my viewing also gets adjusted. It inspires enquiry and experimentation. Often, more questions are raised than discovering of answers. I suppose that is the process of svadhyaya.

Somehow, seeing the asana everyday makes it seep into its practice too. I find myself cueing what I observe. It’s a different learning in the absence of a class. No oral instructions, just watching a still image and finding out for oneself. On one of my other blogs, someone mentioned the word tattolna and it probably explains this seeking. An exploration, a seeking , a searching for oneself.

Before Vipareeta Dandasana became my favourite pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana held that place. Of course, not very yogic in being attached to an asana but then I’m not a yogi :). It would be the one I chose when given an option between any of the cooling inversions. Almost always, propped. Besides the bolster, brick, bench versions, there was one with the bench and a large square cushion which was a completely different experience. I learned to fill my breath in that one with P. She would ask me to reach her palm with my sternum as I inhaled and eventually, my sunken despairing heart began to open.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is often called Bridge pose but Light on Yoga mentions it as construction of bridge pose. It implies a movement. Classically entered from Sarvangasana, it makes sense. It also goes by Uttana Mayurasana or stretched peacock. In either name, there is an implied movement of stretching. One of the insistent images is that of the bridge to Lanka in the Ramayana and Hanuman’s leap across the sea. Intense and stretched.

Today, I took a picture of myself in the pose to share with a friend who was trying it as well. Later, I placed it alongside Guruji’s image from the calendar and saw an entire universe of a difference. It’s a good way to see and correct when there is no teacher to walk one through the finer details.

The world outside spins in lockdown which will continue for the next two weeks. We’ve been in this state for long enough to have it become the new normal. Post lockdown, whenever that happens, I still see myself living this kind of a life for the foreseeable future. Except for the financial implications of work, this minimal way of life has been one of a rich inner landscape. I avoid the news and check on updates every couple of days. Instead, there is much watching the skies, doing whatever little I can at work and volunteering. Meals are simple and readings are varied books. There is also a lavishing of time on my craft and I try to put something as an offering as often as I can. While the current state of the planet is one of fear and isolation, there is acceptance and a continuation of doing whatever one can. And that helps keep my world on an even keel. Eventually, this too will be in the past and the bridge would be complete.

Last month’s thought was ‘Yoga is equanimity’ and it has been an endeavour to keep that idea through the month. May says, ‘Yoga is harmony’ to the accompaniment of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana so that is the meditation through this month. Last year Pavithra mentioned that she had done this as an exercise and I thought it was a beautiful way of keeping yoga alive through the day. So an attempt even if the calendar be one year old.

Daughter of the wind?

If I had to have a deity as a parent, it would probably be Lord Hanuman, the son of the Wind. Simply because I feel like the wind and all things that relate to the endless skies and vast spaces. Sometimes that includes having my head in the clouds. 😊

Recently, I was in Chennai to attend a wedding and wished to visit the Kapaleeshwar temple but somehow that wasn’t possible. Unexpectedly and without even knowing about the Anjeneya temple, I found myself there, right at the time of the aarti. S was with me and it was once again apparent that I don’t go to a temple, the temple pulls me when it is time. The 32 feet black idol of Lord Hanuman is made of a single granite rock and is housed behind enormous wooden doors. At the time of the aarti, the doors are opened and the energy of the worship is palpable. Offering made, prasad received and we made our way out into the bustle of the temple market outside. There was a little store right there and before I knew it, I bought a miniature of the same idol. Back home, I looked at it closely and saw the resemblance of Guruji in his face. The power and serenity of a jitendriya.

Below is a picture of the great siddha from the internet. I did take a picture at the temple before I was told that cameras were not allowed. And there is another moral dilemma. Should I share it or delete it from my phone? It’s still very much with me and I don’t wish to erase it. It got me thinking of the restriction against taking pictures at certain temples. Something to do with the energy, I suppose but how is not yet revealed.

As an ideal, Lord Hanuman is a great role model. Flawless devotion, knowledge, wisdom, immense power and humility are amongst his innumerable qualities. He is said to be a master of the siddhis and a brahmachari par excellence. His Ramayana rendition is said to have made Sage Valmiki insecure and Lord Hanuman’s magnanimous heart was such that he tore it to shreds that the world may remember the sage’s retelling. His reasoning was that his Ramayana was for him to remember Shri Ram while that of the Sage was for the world to remember. (from a children’s book by Devdutt Pattnaik).

It’s an interesting perspective and one that is personally relevant too.

I’ve found a renewed passion for writing and the only rule that seems to work for me is to write for myself. And I find that it resonates strongly with many people.

I’ve been using Instagram as a medium of writing and it’s been a revelation. It’s been overwhelming to see how many folks have written privately and publicly about similar experiences. End of the day, our lives are the same, joys, sorrows, laughter, pain, brokenness and a deep need to love. Another incident was one of the relatives at the wedding saying that she felt inspired to be courageous after chatting with me. I share this not out of pride but joy, happy that someone could use my experience to find new vigour to face their life.

No coincidence since I’ve stopped believing in those. Today our teacher referenced one of Guruji’s quotes which is my motto in life too. ‘Live happily, die majestically’. It’s a thought echoed by all the realised masters. Sat-chit-ananda

Hari Om

Image source: Http://veludharan.blogspot.in/2017/07/arulmigu-aadhi-vyadhi-hara-bhaktha.html?m=1

Adi Kavya

This is a lovely illustrated children's book.

Sage Valmiki is said to have penned the Ramayana. There is a story about how he hears about Hanuman’s Ramayan and goes to check it out. He reads it and realizes that his version is not as moving as Hanuman’s and feels sad. Hanuman then shreds his version so that Valmiki’s Ramayan will be the only one known.
Hanuman’s poem was so that he could remember Ram while the sage’s massive tome was for the world to remember Ram.
I get my answer to an old question., ‘why do I write?’
It is to remember.

Today is Ram Navami and I finished rereading the Adi Kavya over the last few days.
-6 books
-5 cantos
-24,000 verses

It is a work of sheer genius in composition and to think Luv and Kush memorised the entire epic…

Jai Shri Ram

Hanuman’s leap of faith

I end up reading everyday. While there is no fixed plan or agenda, often I have found exactly what I needed to hear. Yesterday it came through the Ramayana. It has been a while since I read it but something got me to pull it off my shelf and it opened to a page that was an encouragement.

There’s a chapter in there where Jambavan reminds Hanuman of his true self while the latter is in doubt about his abilities and is despondent. Being reminded of his innate power, Hanuman grows in stature to be a mighty vanara who leaps across the sea for his Lord.

I’ve found myself slipping into a space of unmanageability and that brings up self doubt which prevents me from taking action. I don’t do well if there is relaxation, I prefer to be in a little discomfort as that keeps me attentive. A week long break from regular routine has had its effect.

I suppose I could be considered to have a predominantly vata constitution. Stressful situations, internal or external give rise to the agitations in my thought and procrastination in my actions.

A sampling of the train of thoughts would go something like
“Oh no, I got a whole ton of stuff to finish. The dishes are staring at me. Lunch and dinner need to be fixed.
The laundry is waiting to get done and the clothes need to be put away.
I have work to get started on. I need to sleep on time. I have to get out for a run tomorrow. I don’t feel like going for a run though. I also need to practice asana but I don’t feel like it. I am so bad at it anyway so its no use. I need to get my daughter’s school admission sorted. Will she get a place somewhere? I want to be left alone. I really need a break from my family.”

These thoughts paralyze me from being in the moment and fixing what I can. When I see them from a little distance it is so clear that I haven’t taken care of myself and my tendencies.

The single most important reason for this setback is that I did not keep myself first. I can only be of service if I am healthy- body, mind and soul.

On a separate note, I am excited, nervous and eager to start a beginners class at RIMYI next week.