January 10, 2012

Staying Steady with Shiva Nataraja. ~ Justin Dees


It’s time for me to buy my first Shiva Nataraja statue.

I have no murtis in my possession and didn’t buy any because I wasn’t really sure about them. I’m still not really sure how I feel about them today. I was raised Catholic as a child but left the faith when I was 18. Today, I consider myself Agnostic. I believe that something might be going on after death. However,  I don’t think that talking snakes or an old man herding animals onto a ship ever existed. Again, I’m not endorsing Hinduism, but I like what this statue represents to me.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the God, Shiva:

In the tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as a major Hindu deity, the supreme God. He is represented as a handsome young man immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the Lord of the dance, goodness, humility, and every good quality a human should have. In this statue, the murti is depicting Shiva’s “Dance of Bliss.”

Depicting every good quality a human should have.

I kind of like that. It was seriously eight or nine months before I knew what the statue even meant or who it was. At the time, I was just trying to focus on doing better forward folds and backbends. I wasn’t trying to immerse myself in philosophy or the culture behind it all. It just wasn’t a priority.

The first six months of my yoga practice with Karen was very interesting. I had never heard of teachers playing artists like AC/DC, Nirvana,  and Skid Row during class. I mean, who does that? Not many teachers. But, that’s one of the things that I love about her:her uniqueness. At the same time, it was a little difficult holding Vashistasana (side plank) while listening to Styx pleading with me to “Come Sail Away” with them.  It’s hard to stay steady in your pose with distractions and you have to learn how to overcome them. The same thing went for my life off of my mat. Life was tough after a breakup, but I had no other choice than to stay focused on my goal; which was ultimately to find happiness again.

John Friend described the Shiva Nataraja statue in a weekend retreat he had in San Francisco in February 2011:

“Look at all the movement that’s going on with Shiva. The hair is wildly moving behind him, indicating that he is dancing very quickly. But, his eyes are always steady, straight ahead. He is always focused on what’s important.”

And after that, I got it. I just got it. There will always be distractions around us. It may be ex-boyfriends, bad coworkers or financial troubles. Even doing yoga while listening to Marilyn Manson in your underwear could pose a challenge. The trick is trying to stay steady among all of the chaos and stay focused on your goal at hand.

And by the way… if you’re able to do arm balances to Marilyn Manson yelling obscenities at you, you’re off to a great start in following Shiva’s example.

[Originally published at www.JustinsJourney.net]

Justin Dees: I started my Anusara practice on April 1, 2010, in Las Vegas, NV. Stumbling upon my first Anusara teacher, Karen Lane, was no accident either. They both came into my life when I needed them the most. From the first class, I was hooked. I was “Home.” Through my practice, I found love, laughter and a lot of handstands! Anusara yoga has enriched my life in ways that I could not have imagined. It wasn’t just asana, it became a way of life. As my teacher told me, “You have to try and find the light in even the darkest places.” Well, with my Kula, my yoga mat, and my bare feet…I’m doing just that.
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