The pose of Sage Vashista is a very interesting one. It asks us to balance on one hand and the edge of a single foot while we hold an extended leg pointing skyward, and press ourselves away from gravity. Like with most asana, there reaches a point in this pose, where we have figured out the delicate balance of physical actions to achieve it without much struggle. But until then, rigorous asana practice is a mysterious and challenging combination of identifying parts of our body we didn't know existed, and then actually using them with vigor. If we can make peace with the humility of this process, then we are able to move with curiosity into the exploration of our ever-expanding and dissolving limitations. Because of the delicate nature of this difficult balancing pose, it’s the perfect place to play with your notions of Ahinsa. Ahinsa, (or, as some people pronounce it, ahiMsa) means to “not strike.” It has come to be known as the practice of non-harming. As our ego involves itself in our yoga practice, we sometimes find ourselves pushing our body beyond capacity. When the body gives way to our egoic pressure, we become injured. Sometimes we even sustain long-term injuries in our yoga practice. To avoid this, our concentration must be balanced with a reverence for the health and safety of this sacred body… this body that allows us to practice at all.
For the next few months I'll be exploring the idea of incorporating our practice of the yogic ethical precepts (the yamas - stuff not to do - and the niyamas - stuff to do) within the context of our physical Hatha Yoga practice. I hope you find these little observations thought provoking and even inspiring. My prayer for us all is that we always feel the expansive and rich potential of our practice, that we always feel motivated to practice regularly. And that when we don't, we have the persistence to go remind ourselves.