One of the reasons Hatha Yoga postures were developed was to simply just sit in a comfortable crossed legged position. Unless the body is perfectly healthy and free from all toxins and tensions, a comfortable pose is not easily obtained. This is the Reason for practicing yoga. Physical and mental toxins create stiffness and tension. Anything that makes us stiff can also break us. Only if we are supple will we never break.
A story from Swami Satchidananda: A conversation between a weed and a big tree…..
Both grew on the bank of a swiftly running jungle river. One day, the tree looked down at the tiny week and said, “Hey, you puny little creature, why do you stand near me? Aren’t you ashamed to be by my side? See how great, how big, how tall I am? How sturdy and strong? Even an elephant cannot move me. But look at you. Hah! You shouldn’t have come here. People will see the difference and laugh at you. Why don’t you move somewhere else?”
The week bent her head. “Sir,” she said, “What can I do? I didn’t come here purposely. I just happen to be here. I know I’m not as strong and stiff as you. But please pardon my presence.”
“All right”, boomed the big tree, “but just remember your place!” This conversation happened during the rainy season. The very next day a heavy rain came, inundating the jungle and causing a terrible flood. When a river floods, it erodes the banks and pulls down anything in its way. Coming in such force, the water pulled down the great tree instantly. But the weed bent down, flattened herself completely and let the water run over her. When the flood passed, she rose up again. Looking this way and that, she wondered, “What happened to the great tree? I don’t see it”.
From far away she heard the tree’s reply. “I’m being pulled down by the water. I should have been humble and simple and supple like you. Now I’m being destroyed.”
What we need is the strength of steel, but with steel’s flexibility-not like crude iron, which is very strong and hard but breaks. The body must be so supple it can bend any way you want it to. Such a body will always be healthy and tension-free. The moment we sit down for meditation in such a body, we’ll forget it.
This is the reason hatha yoga was created. People trying to sit quietly found they couldn’t. They encountered pain, stiffness, bile, gas, etc, and thought how can I get rid of these? Thus, they changed their diet. Next problem was what to do with the toxins already inside the body. They concluded that these could be gotten rid of by squeezing the body in all different directions. For example, they found the way to cleanse the liver, spleen and intestines was by doing the forward bending pose, paschimothanasana, which is bending forward touching your toes, and crushing the stomach a bit. When the spine was stiff and didn’t want to move, they employed postures that bent it forward, backward sideward and upside down. Although Hatha yoga is several thousands of years old, it never becomes outdated. The truths of it are always current. They are like gold. Although other things lose their value according to time, gold is always the same.
See you on the mat,