One giant leap
It seems that every time I come to write my blog I talk about the weather, I guess that is part and parcel of being British! Still, we are almost in double figures now, which really is worthy of celebration. It does seem that every time I go to teach at St Peter's, the thermometer in my car registers 4 degrees. So it is rather refreshing that change is actually happening...as I knew it would do, but all the same, it is almost the middle of April.
It has been a busy few weeks, what with writing a newsletter and a couple of articles, completing another Yoga therapy study module, helping Nick with some photos, finalising the Yoga Nidra CD and of course Spring cleaning! Easter came and went, we did manage a few cliff walks, which is always great to clear the energy and connect with nature (the gorse is just stunning at the moment) and it was lovely to catch up with family and friends. This weekend too, we managed to get some sunshine out on the bikes, hoorah, there is the scent of Spring in the air. We have failed miserably with sea swimming, far too cold!!
The kestrels have arrived again, they are very noisy in their nest at the bottom of the garden, but we are delighted to have them back again and look forward to watching them teach their young to fly again. I even managed to get out in the garden yesterday and do a little bit of tidying. The daffodils still look wonderful, and so too all the tiny violets that grow in the most obscure places.
I have been devouring a Jivamukti Yoga book that I came across recently. I connected with a Jivamukti Yoga teacher I met when I was last in London and I have to say that I am enjoying very much learning more about this brand of Yoga. The vinyasa Kramer resonates strongly with me, for there is so much potential for the liberation of the soul, which after all, is what Yoga is all about. So I have been incorporating some of the sequences in my daily practice and observing the way that they make me feel. Alive really!
Class on Saturday certainly made me feel alive and I can only hope that it had a similar effect on those in the class. We practiced Hamumanasana, the monkey pose. We would commonly recognise this pose as the splits. Debbie asked me what this pose represented and so I thought I would share it with you all as it is a rather lovely story and told beautifully here by Aadil Palkhivala:
During mythological times, Rama, a king of ancient India, had a problem. The demon king who presided in Sri Lanka, Ravana, had abducted Rama's wife, Sita. Rama and his troops set out to rescue her from the vile demon. In the ensuing battle Rama's brother, Laksmana, was severely wounded, and the only way to save him was with an herb that grew exclusively in the Himalayas. It appeared that he would be lost, for who could possibly travel to the Himalayas and back in time to save him?
Hanuman, Rama's greatest devotee, said he would accomplish this impossible task. He then took one mighty leap that stretched all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas. At that point, he wasn't sure which herb to pick, and so he carried the entire mountain with him as he made another massive leap back to the battlefield. The healers found the herb in question, and Laksmana's life was saved. In that giant leap Hanuman embodied his love for Rama. His intense devotion allowed him to do the impossible, and this is the lesson of Hanuman: Power comes from devotion. That mighty leap is memorialized in the pose Hanumanasana. This pose asks you not merely to stretch your legs but also to bring true devotion into your practice. Hanumanasana expresses the expansiveness possible when devotion is in the heart—the sense that you can overcome any obstacle when your yearning to help is combined with reverence and respect, as well as an intense and fiery devotion. In Hanumanasana you strive to reach much further than seems humanly possible. When this attitude is infused into the practice of Hanumanasana, it brings with it the energy to do this magnificent posture. Though Rama himself was an incarnation of the god Vishnu, he wasn't able to make the giant leap because he was earthbound in a human body. But Hanuman, with his intense devotion to Rama, could make the leap. This story shows that even a god cannot do what a human can when the human has true devotion in the heart. For a devoted soul, nothing is impossible. As you practice this pose, notice the duality between your reach for the pose and the pains that may accompany your attempts. When you feel pain, turn your mind inward. Instead of focusing on the pain, use your breath to access your heart, finding the inner passion that created the leap of Hanuman. Notice that when you switch the mind from pain to passion and do the asana with a sense of Hanumanic devotion, resistance begins to dissolve and the pose starts to blossom. As the mind turns, so the body responds. As the mind moves into devotion and the heart opens, so will the hips, the hamstrings, and the legs. The opening up of the legs, hamstrings, and hip flexors is a reflection of a deeper opening felt inside. When you maintain an inner quality of expansive devotion, the pose will not be a fight to open your hamstrings, but a joyous attempt at aggrandizing all your capacities. Cervantes wrote in Don Quixote, "The road is better than the inn." And so it goes with all yoga poses, and none more than Hanumanasana. It's irrelevant whether you achieve the full pose or not. What's important is you turn your awareness inward to find the energy of Hanuman inside yourself—an energy of devotion and introspection toward your own inner divinity. As you do this, your body will release and move. This movement, which transcends your current capacity and takes you where you could not have gone without this devotion, is your offering to the divinity within".
So you see, as with every pose that we practice, there is so much more going on, so much more potential offered to us, than the physical form alone. Hanumanasana is a wonderful pose, however, to truly observe how we feel, both before and after we have practiced the pose, for often there is much resistance, frustration and doubt, and then much surprise as we realise that really it is not so bad and it really is all about our state of mind...and heart...although let us not forget the role those joyful hamstrings play!
Keep smiling - let the sun shine inside, even if it is not shining outside today.
With love and gratitude