This week the Four Desires is taking a look at Janu Sirisasana (head-to-knee) pose. Like many poses, it requires you to relax in order to fulfill your potential in it. If we were to take this discipline into every pose we do, our asana practice would truly start to reshape the breath, calm our minds and lead us towards a more devotional attitude.
Start with your legs out in front of you, and make sure your seat is comfortable. If you feel that there is a rounding in the lower back (or you are just uncomfortable sitting on the floor) add some blankets or a block under the sits bones. This extra lift allows you to move further in the pose in a more relaxed manner.
Once your seated pose feels comfortable, bend the right knee and bring the sole of the foot to the inside of the left thigh. The straight leg should be strong; there should be weight on the inner thigh and inner ankle, to keep the body stable. Check that your right shin is perpendicular with the left leg.
With your next inhale, reach the arms up in-line with the ears and soften the shoulders. Try extending through the torso without overworking the shoulders; bend your elbows to feel more ease in the shoulders and neck. As you exhale keep the length of your spine and fold forward from the hips towards your leg, not being attached or worried about how far your body goes.
This seated forward bend’s muscular function is primarily focused in the lower back. Moving dynamically is a good idea to ease into this deep and challenging pose.
Inhale as you lift up and exhale as you extend from your hips, bringing the chest towards the straight leg.
Then hold the pose for a comfortable amount of time. You can even increase the exhalation or use each exhale as a means to deepen your body’s relaxation. Repeat on the opposite side.
Let this pose embody all that you have learned about vairagya in the past couple of chapters. Practice stage one of viaragya, and release any physical or emotional pain. This includes the disappointment of not getting your head to your knee.
The release may lead you to stage two; you may find some room in the body to settle into, finding yourself deeper in the pose. A clear indication that you are growing through the pose is that your breath becomes smoother and more even.
Stage three would be a continuation of that surrender coupled with contentment; not needing to change the shape of your body or pattern of your breath, just being. You may even feel devotion for your physical body, enabling you to experience the richness of the pose. “Asana is used to integrate with your body so that you are a more fit vehicle to express the divine in the world” -Rod Stryker. When we start to use our physical practice as a means of expressing divinity, there is nothing more to hold on to.
Maybe just this one time, take your mat out and practice with that in mind. It transforms the way you practice: the poses you choose, the way you breathe, your over all attitude and the relationship you build with your Self on the mat.
I really want to hear about everyone’s janu sirsasana, and your physical practice of vairagya. Please post your experiences.
Learn more about Rod Stryker and ParaYoga at RodStryker.com
Read The Four Desires book review on Elephant Journal.
The Four Desires: YouTube talks with Rod Stryker
Read other discussions about The Four Desires
Instructions: How the book club works
Rod Stryker travels to the largest spiritual pilgrimage in history in 2013. I’ll be there. Will you?