Day 16: Myths of the Asana
There are so many different yoga books out there its hard to choose which one to read and those that are must haves for your bookshelf. Myths of the Asana ~ Stories At The Heart of Yoga Tradition by Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij is one book that I can't resist and I highly recommend to students and teachers looking for further insights to the legends and lessons behind a yoga pose.
The more that you practice, you realize that there is so much beyond the physical aspects. It's natural to develop a curiosity of yoga's origins. Teachers recite some of the sanskrit words through chants, counting and naming of a pose. Studios have statues of mystical gods and symbols decorating the room. Yoga is steeped in a rich history that is worth researching. Depending on your interest, Hinduism plays a significant role for some of the stories that are told of the most beloved deities of India. You know already you don't have to be religious to practice yoga but spiritual growth is almost inevitable. Learning about the postures you practice regularly can give you insight to some of the lessons that are found in the stories told in India. They are meant to inspire and reveal our hidden potential and ultimately learn some valuable lessons.
Myths of the Asana was introduced to me
7 years ago in Maui. I was attending a yoga class when we entered warrior 1 posture. The teacher made a brief comment how this pose was made from the dreadlock of Shiva who was sitting on Mt. Kailash meditating. That was it. That was all she said. My ears were perked and I specifically remember turning my head hoping she'd elaborate. But alas it was up to me to inquire more about the story and thankfully this book landed into my hands.
What I love most about this read is the layout. You don't necessarily need to start at the beginning as each segment covers a different posture. The authors cleverly open with descriptions of the pose followed by a myth of the asana and how the lesson can be applied into our life. The illustrations elegantly sketched and open our imagination to a time and place long ago. Learn how Hanuman the Monkey God thought the sun, Surya, was a big giant mango he wanted to eat or perhaps discover how the story of the great sage Ashtavakra, reminds us not to judge by appearances. No matter which section you open to your guaranteed to find connections through Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Krishna's child's pose or the humble beginnings of Padmasana, Lotus.
Treat yourself to the mysteries and legends of sages, kings, demi-gods and deities and I guarantee your practice will resonate something more than just movement. Happy Reading!