Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dandasana: the simple, tough pose of Guru principle

(This image is of B.K.S. Iyengar, from his book Light on Yoga)

The book Myth of the Asanas lists some stories with this pose. I did not see the connection with the stories or the pose, strangely. The authors also felt that this pose is where the student prostrates before the teacher. Again, I disagree simply because I cannot imagine out here, in India, we would place our feet out towards a teacher in that fashion. It would seem highly disrespectful. One link which the authors made, but bypassed gently because I realise the concept of a firm teacher who wields the stick may be a bit difficult in that part of the world, is the Guru principle. I myself see this pose as one which shows the Guru can be a tough one, like the teacher who wields the stick. In fact, in one of the chakras the various lingams in the center of the lotus petals has one of Shiva as the Guru who rocks you out of your lethargy towards the ultimate goal. That stick that needs to be used firmly:) So, it may be explained why this pose is a rather tough one, despite its seeeming simplicity. I see even my advanced students struggle with it. The duration, the structure and form of the pose, can all give immense trouble. The breath feels rough, the shoulders drop or roll up, the spine may curve, stomach may poop out... all throwing into stark reality the extent of postural corrections, respiratory adjustments one may still need to develop, on the mat.
For me, that is why this is a rather exciting pose. I recall when I wrote to Prahlada once about my student woes, he advised me that a teacher had to be both firm or gentle, not fearful about using the `stick' to get a good student out of his/her comfort zone!! These days I reserve that attitude to the best of the students. The rest, they come and go...


Each representation of Shiva lingam is said to be a mystical understanding of the state of your progress. In the first mooladhara chakra, according to Harish Johari, the lingam is svyambhu (self-created). In the fourth chakra it becomes the bana lingam where it turns into the Guru priniciple, the one who guides. This pose, I believe, is how you know. Because Johari says, the heart beat rate, the way you feel, is an indication of your progress in your sadhana!!

Tomorrow the story of bana lingam, and why it is the guru priniciple /manifestation of Shiva. 

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