These past few weeks I’ve been slowly savoring A. G. Mohan’s tribute to Krishnamacharya. It’s a small but potent book full of beautiful reflections and stories about the “grandfather of yoga as we know it”, including some wonderful segments from K’s own journals and interviews. Mohan was deeply devoted to his guru and his respect for his teacher is so profoundly moving. That in itself is a teaching lesson within this book.
One passage I read struck me the other day. Mohan was speaking about how his guru would sometimes give imagery to help facilitate deeper learning within the asana practice (something my teacher David does a lot as well, for example this morning he gave me the image of myself as a centaur to help me get more grounded and power into my legs/hips – pretty cool stuff!). I’ve heard vinyasa teachers today use imagery and metaphors in classes and sometimes they come across as really cheesy or new-agey, but reading this passage gave me more reason to believe that using imagery is a powerful tool and not just flowery language!
Mohan was practicing one of Krishnamacharya’s favorite sequences that consists of many variations of warrior pose (virabhadrasana) and writes about it in his book:
“When I did the warrior vinyasa, Krishnamacharya recommended that I bring into my mind a feeling like that of a bird. This is particularly appropriate in the devotional tradition of Vaishnavism, in which a principal devotee of the Divine, in the form of Lord Narayana, is depicted as an eagle named Garuda (see pic above). The eagle Garuda also functions as a vehicle, bearing Narayana on his back. “As you do the viradbhadrasana vinyasa,” Krishnamacharya would say, “keep in mind that you are in the service of the Divine. As you extend your arms and look down, bring the feeling that you are above the world and its various concerns but close to the Divine. As you bring your arms by your side with the palms facing upward, feel that the feet of the Divine are resting on your hands.”
To this, I once responded, “This is relevant for me, but what if a practitioner has no religious beliefs?”
Krishnamacharya replied, “Still, the imagery is valuable. Instead of [thinking of] the Divine, [a practitioner can] bring the feeling that ‘I am without any fear or burden. I am not troubled by the future of the past, flying above worldly pressures.’ “
Beautiful, don’t you agree? Think about that next time you are wobbling in Warrior 3.
Love and Blessings,