I was in Prashantji’s online class today and it was a revelation how he managed to make pawanamuktasana such a powerful asana. I don’t think I will ever see it simply as a release pose or a preparatory one for Supta Padangushtasana.

Post class as I sat to gather my thoughts and reflect on what he spoke about, I thought back about one of his earlier classes which revolved around saucha. Today, there was an exploration on satya as well as the prithvi tattva. His classes are an invitation to explore. They are not to be treated as an asana class in the traditional sense as he opens up multiple interlinked points through the 2 hours. And the thing is, each of them are worth an entire practice hour or two over a long period of time.

RIMYI has been a unfolding for me. Sometimes students argue about wanting to go to the ‘next’ level and I feel they miss the point completely. The more time one spends in those initial years, the more ease there is in the later ones. A certain ripening. I see how my body, mind and breath cooperate better now and often surprise me with an effortless entry into never before attempted poses. Today, I experienced a glimpse of what might have been referred to as breath condition, mind condition and body condition in rope sirsasana. It is a comfortable enough asana to be in as there is no physical effort required. And yet there are shifts in the mind and breath. The fluctuations or vrittis have a visceral expression.

Not really related but when he smiles, he reminds me of Geetaji.

Days and Nights of the Devi

The triumvirate of creation, sustenance and destruction in the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is common enough knowledge but they are inert without Para Shakti. In her creative aspect, she is inspired artitstry; in her nourishment avatar, she is the womb of the world; in her destructive form, she is ruthlessly savage. All destruction is but creation waiting to be born.

This morning, I had a glimpse of the elements as an expression of the devi principle.

Earth is the fertile field on which life is born and sustained. Bhoomi devi is also the savage goddess who makes the earth quake and erupt liquid fire that eventually transforms the geoscape.

As water, she is the ocean on which Vishnu sleeps until the moment of creation is ready to spring alive. She is also the waters of the womb nestling new life just as in her fury, she is pralaya.

As Fire, she is the union of egg and sperm that sparks life even as she nestles in the warmth of a mother’s embrace. She is also the pyre which chars the shell of a spent body.

She hastens the seasons to create their winds even as they soothe or agitate the body. In her rages, she is the hurricane that hurtles through life.

Space implodes in her black holes even as stars are born and planets wobble in their steady orbits.

She is Mahamaya even as she expresses in such sensory life. It’s hard to wrap around the thought of the illusory nature of the human embodiment even as it evolves in mystical ways into Pure Consciousness.

These days of the Devi have been one of heaviness of the heart and I didn’t expect to have her darshan. But, I did. In unexpected ways, both in human form and in clay. It’s such an irony that this period has also seen a rise of #metoo in my land. On one hand, we worship the feminine energy and on the other, our girls and women are violated as they have been since the beginning of creation. It’s Maha Ashtami today and as I looked at the avatars of the Devi in the neighbourhood, I couldn’t help but recall Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I rise’.

The neighbourhood community Devi.

With all the rage of suppressed voices and mockery of those who have never known the paralysis of silence, one thing that is lost is the now. That’s all we have and sometimes it comes as a prescription from an old teacher- one setuband sarvangasana a day. Sometimes, the very thing you tell yourself has to be heard through another voice.

I have zero expectations as I assume the shape of the asana and wonder if I’m imagining things even as I watch the wobbliness of Prithvi and the lopsidedness of Ap as it flows on one side. Agni is burning inwards and vayu is blocked in a triangular circuit while Akash is closed to me. Is it possible to actually sense these things when one has been out of regular practice? I don’t know what to believe and so just watch the unruly mind as the body goes through the motions of rest.

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

The body as a Mirror

The soles fascinates me endlessly. I know not its anatomy. I know not the names of its intricate structures. Yet, it speaks to me. It reflects how I feel and think. Some times it is sure and steady while at others there is a flightiness. Some times it is doubt and at others it is shaky. Rarely, if ever, is it evenly balanced. There are times my entire practice revolves around tadasana and I still don’t scratch the surface of this foundational pose.

forever in tadasana

Today’s class had our teacher prodding us to see how different parts of the body could be a mirror for actions in other parts. He articulated it in a beautiful way, “The bottom of your foot is a mirror!”.  Perhaps it is barefoot running that has heightened my sense of the soles. They speak quite loudly. There is a kind of auto-correct that happens when running barefoot, it is difficult to run sloppily without shoes. The entire body is alert and it is a light and compact experience. There is communication that happens between the soles and rest of the body as I move. I never felt like that in shoes. Barefoot, there is a lot of respect for the field of experience, it is the ground beneath the feet that commands. Quite similar to our lives when one thinks about it. 

Our situations and capabilities mark the field where we struggle, explore and transform our life patterns. I can’t fight the field but if I work within its limitations, there is the possibility of freedom. 

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage

Exploring the theme of mirrors, the body reflects the mind and vice versa. As a student, it is a little easier to work with the body and see the changes reflect in the mind rather than the other way around. Moving the legs are more accessible than shifting my thought patterns defined and coloured by Prakriti.

I’ve been drawn to the Tattvas repeatedly of late and it is interesting to see how this system accounts for the universe at large and the individual embodiment. The sheer scale of subjective understanding of the ancient ones is mind boggling and all this was intuitively experienced! That makes me believe it is possible for us to be what we truly are.

Man awakened to the Self’s Glory is God; God forgetful of His own glory is the deluded man!

-Swami Chinmayananda

Hari Om