Friday, July 1, 2011

Power Comes From Devotion

I enjoy reading the stories behind some of the yoga postures that we do in class. Having read the story brings more meaning and depth to the pose and to the entire practice. One can move into their own yoga practice with greater intention.

I recently was reading about Hanuman, the Monkey God. The story goes....a demon king had abducted the wife of the king of ancient India. Rama, the Indian king, order his troops to rescue his wife, Siva. During the battle that occurred in this pursuit, Rama's brother, Laksmana, was gravely wounded. The only way that he could be saved was with an herb that grew in the Himalayas. But the distance was so far; how was Laksmana going to be saved in time. Hanuman, a great devotee to Rama, said he could complete the task. He took a mighty leap from the south of India to the Himalayas. Once there, he did not know which herb to return home, so he rasied the entire mountain, took another mighty leap back to India, and the brother was saved.

This story tells us that with great devotion, one can accomplish the impossible. YOU have the power to overcome any obstacle when your desire to help is combined with reverence and respect.

The pose is an intense hamstring stretch; you're essentially doing the splits. You made need at least three blocks and a blanket to help guide yourself into this pose. This pose embodies Hanuman's devotion and giant leap to save his king's brother.

This pose, while using the props, is best done with a yoga mat on a hard wood floor. Start by coming to your hands and knees near the top of your mat. Have a blanket (or towel) on the floor in front of you. Have a block on either side of you and one at hand's reach to use later.

Place your right heel on the blanket or towel in front of you. (Your knee can remain bent.) Then place the nearby block underneath this leg. Place your hands on the blocks on either side of you. Very slowly, begin to slide the blanket directly forward. This will begin to extend the front leg. As you slide forward, your rear leg (with the knee still on the yoga mat) will also extend. Move slowly and carefully. Take small movements forward and let each movement be supported and guided by your breath, particularly your exhales. Your front leg will eventually rest on the block so as not to hyper-extend your knee. Take 5 to 10 slow deep breaths here. When you're ready to move out of the pose, simply slide the extended leg back toward your yoga mat. Do the same on the other side.

If you are very flexible, you may not need the props. Further, if you have been working on this pose for awhile, try this little tip. You may find that you can go deeper into the pose when you produce an inner spiral (rotation) with the front extended leg. That is, the leg at the point of insertion in the pelvis, rolls inward. See if this allows you to create a deeper splits.

With Hanumanasana, you experience a moment where you accomplish something that seems nearly impossible. Transfer the same thought and idea to your everyday life. If you are faced with great obstacle, remember Hanuman's love and devotion for his king. That respect, honor, and love, allowed him to achieve what seemed humanly impossible. You may be surprised at the power you hold within yourself.


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