Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hanuman Coming To A Close?

This month "with" Hanuman has been very special. I learned so much about that monkey and saw how I can apply his life and lessons to my daily routine.

This month has also helped me tremendously with my physical practice. Not only has practicing such a difficult pose given me courage, but it has also taught me a certain level of patience and understanding of my body and mind.

So is it over? No. There is so much I learned that I will keep with me moving forward in this life and apply to my every day practice. In addition, a great friend gave me something that will help me keep Hanuman close by.

More and More Hanuman

We tend to think of July as a Time for relaxation and basking in the sun. July, however, can end up being like any other month if we allow it to be. This month I realized that our time is what we make it.

I somehow packed this month with meetings and agreed to sub others' classes, not realizing the type of schedule I had built for myself. So I have been going non stop. Once I realized what I had done, I decided that I needed a source of courage. Lucky enough, this month I have been dedicating to the learning of Hanuman and the practice of Hanumanasana.

Just like Hanuman, I received advice from others, the belief in me that helped me realize that I can get through it and do well. In times of doubt, Aum Sri Hanumathe Namaha!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Daily Hanuman

I do realize that I cannot do Hanumanasana every day. So, I have decided to do other feats that are Hanuman worthy. On off days I have decided to work on arm balances and sit in padmasana for 10 minutes (5minutes on each side). While I can get into padmasana fairly easily, holding it takes immense concentration - something that Hanuman does very well.

I have been reading more about him and I have been enjoying the stories. I can see why so many are devoted to him, he is courageous, humble, and focused. In learning about the Bhakti tradition, I understand you can have a relationship with your Ishta Devita as a mother-child relationship, a friendship, or a lover's relationship. I can understand having a relationship with Hanuman as a friend, everyone wants someone like that in their corner.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Approaching Hanumanasana

This month I am making Hanumasana my focus. This challenging pose, I have found thus far, is just as challenging for the mind as it is for the body. The amount of stretch and opening that occurs in the legs and groin is very intense. I have found, however, that the longer I stay in it, the more the pose unfolds itself. When first entering the pose, my mind jumps right to the stretch and the intense feeling in the hamstrings and groins. It can be daunting to let the first reaction pass - the feeling is rather intense. After holding the pose in a supported position a few times, I can now approach it as a learner - realizing that I need to pull a hip forward or rotate the upper thigh to the floor, using the same lessons that I apply to other poses.

To prepare my body for the pose, I have been using a sequence that I am adapting from an old copy of Yoga Journal and different approaches from classes and workshops that I have taken.

  • The sequence starts with a forward bend. I have been experimenting with this - lifting the toes onto a rolled up mat or block to get a deeper stretch of the hamstrings, holding the pose for a few minutes, or approaching the pose in a restorative way - propping up the head, etc.

  • Next, I move onto rajakapotasana (pigeon). I have been using different variations of this pose. I do this pose twice on each side. The first time, doing the pose my traditional way - front leg bent, back leg straight. Then I do the pose a second time, trying to get my front leg closer to parallel to the front of the mat - which means that I have to prop myself up a bit, but the opening it creates in the hip is wonderful. Sometimes I will bend the back leg into the body as well.

  • I then move onto a lunge sequence - runner's lunge variations, added quad stretches.

  • Then I approach Hanumanasana - utilizing bricks to support where I am currently with the pose. I utilize different brick heights to elevate or lower the groins closer to the floor

The experience thus far has been amazing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aum Sri Hanumathe Namaha

I decided that after a month of head standing, I would give myself a new challenge. So this month I will be working on Hanumanasana, a yoga pose we in the west would call "the splits." The pose is named after the Hindu god Hanuman (the monkey god). The pose is a imitation of his jump across the ocean - legs split, arms up, mouth wide open.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Hanuman. I often chant the invocation to him (Aum Sri Hanumathe Namaha) in times where I need to summon up energy or when I need to do something that feels impossible. I have also made the promise to myself that I would learn more about him this month. So, here is what I learned so far:

  • Hanuman is known for great feats of austerity
  • He is credited as the creator of sun salutations, as the sun was his teacher (he actually met the sun when he jumped into the air to eat it - he thought the sun was a mango)
  • Hanuman, as son of the wind god (Vayu) was a faithful pranayama practitioner
  • While Hanuman was amazing at everything he did, music, breath, physical feats, etc. he stayed humble and was faithful to his practice. I think I will need that inspiration this month, working on his pose.