A sculptor explains how they creates their work. They describe starring at a large oddly shaped rock for days or weeks concentrating only on this rock and at first seeing nothing but a big hunk of stone. Eventually the sculptor will notice an outline or a figure, which gradually becomes more obvious to them, for example an elephant. Using their tools they will start to chisel into the stone and the outline of an elephant begins to take shape. The sculptor can only reveal the elephant when all the stone that is not elephant has been chipped away. This process can be applied when we begin to look at our true self. We tend to bury ourselves in labels, thoughts and perceptions that end up governing how we act and react to life. The adjectives we use to describe ourselves (our job title, our family roles, our community roles), as well as our thoughts, our feelings, and even the information we receive from our senses create the stone that covers our true self. We then use this outer stone as our identity, this is a false identity.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (the first yoga text) states, “False-identification is confusing the nature of the seer, or True Self, with the nature of the instrument of perception. In other words, false identification happens when we mistake the mind, body, or senses for the True Self.”
We can chip away at this false identity to reveal our true self just as the sculptor reveals the elephant which has been inside the stone all along. Yoga offers several ways of beginning to chip away including meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises) and asana practice (yoga postures). Each of us is unique and our path to the true self will be just as unique. Finding the path is the beginning and what you find when you look inward is a question only you can answer.
Welcome This is the first of a monthly publication where we will together discover a deeper awareness of the ideas and philosophy that drives our yoga practice. I will also highlight chakras, mudras, bandhas, asanas and more related to the topic. I encourage you to explore these topics on your own and share your discoveries.
Bakasana This asana truly brings out the concept of letting go of the false identity and embodying who you are. The first trick to mastering this dynamic balancing pose is to breathe through and past the common fear of falling on your face. Second you will utilize the core which is strengthened by uddiyana bandha. Once you feel secure in the full expression of the pose you can use the core strength to jump back or even jump forward into the pose. We will work on bakasana and several variations throughout the month.
Uddiyana Bandha Uddiyana Bandha strengthens your digestion and increases the energetic core. The abdominal organs are massaged, toned and purified and the adrenal glands are balanced by abdominal contraction. It moves your energy upwards allowing you to invert, float forward and back more lightly, and twist more deeply.