When I started practicing yoga a year ago, I used to wonder if I was in a wildlife park or similar. Often, the instructor would ask us to become a tree , then a serpent, a crow, cow, cat , dog and what not !!
Initially we are only focused on correcting the asana and then we began to practice the art of holding the asana. It is now, in the act of holding, that we realize how important is that name! Imitating nature can be so enlightening.
What came to my mind was, we should not only emulate the different forms of nature physically but we should try doing this psychologically as well. Say, for instance the cat awakens with the stretching of its spine by making an arch inward and outward before
getting into action. It relaxes the body and normally this asana, cat pose , is practiced , for relaxation either in the beginning or towards the end of yoga practice. Next time , if we actually try to imagine ourselves as cat who is just awakened from sleep trying to warm up a little , it will help us do the asana better and in fact feel it better.
Downward dog , for example, is another asana named after the animal, which adopts this bending to stretch after waking from a nap. This asana when mastered with perfection can actually be very relaxing after a prolonged lying down position or even after a prolonged standing position. So next time try to embody the creature to feel that stretch and you might be able to understand why is that stretch essential.
More importantly, if we go deeper to comprehend a few other postures , we will know it guides us emotionally and psychologically. Emulating the tree in Vrikshasana, simply helps one to balance self and stand erect. Consider the life’s challenges as the wind storms or
heavy rains and yet you stand stable and steady like a tree and confront any hardship with more strength.
So I decided to give it shot one day while trying the ustrasana , the camel pose. Initially I
would struggle through it but I still made sure to picture myself like a camel every time I do it. It worked! Most of the time, I would struggle to get into the posture, I just imagined how a camel would never give up even in the scorching heat and that stamina and commitment to the awareness finally helped me perfect the asana. I continued to imagine myself as the beautiful tolerant creature who has just reached an oasis ready to fill it’s picnic basket, the hump!
In the next yoga class when you hear an asana name , and think that , what’s in a name!!
Think this – ‘I am not merely trying to mimic the look of it, I am trying to experience it’
and you will realize that , indeed, everything is in a name !!
Matsayasana – Learn from the fish that the only way out from most things in life is to simply swim through them.
Bhunjangasana – Learn from the cobra to rise and strike but at the same time be in control
of your actions and use aggression only as the last resort.
Garudasana – Focus on the goal with an excellent vision , concentration and balance , just
like the eagle. Give it all your time , effort and energy before you set out to achieve it.
Goumukhasana – Adopt an attitude of patience. Cows are gentle and calm animals. We
never really see them running around. Experience the joy of living life with simplicity and
still be of service to others.
Bakasana – The crow pose reminds me of the nature of crow as to how regular and committed they are. If they don’t turn up , they won’t be fed. So be regular be committed to succeed.
Simhasana – While mimicking the lion, experience the feeling of royalty and power. At the
same time , remember to embrace failure and evolve each time we face it.
Let us not only embody the posture but also empathize a little with the flora and fauna and make a sincere effort to nurture nature. Nature has stood the test of time and resurrected itself in a steady way every time be it after a natural calamity or human interference. The wildlife too has found better ways to deal with stress and survive which is why we are constantly trying to impersonate them. Yoga is one way you can experience nature inside out so make the most of it.