May 2, 2014

Pitfalls of the Yogi’s Journey. ~ Jennifer Strukoff


In the beginning, the hardest part of my yoga journey was leaving my new son at home to run to yoga class.

I knew I needed the time for myself to unwind, and I also hoped that a few yoga classes a week would help me to get rid of the many pounds I had gained during my pregnancy. But it was so hard to leave this little cherub at home, so interesting to watch and so rewarding to care for. I had no idea at the time what these few classes a week would change my outlook on life forever.

Every student has a different reason for coming to a class.

Maybe they were roped in by a friend who didn’t want to go alone, or perhaps they wanted to validate spending over a hundred dollars on a pair of yoga pants. Whatever the reason for attending that first yoga class, is that the same reason we continue to go?

Let me tell you a little story, about a great warrior king.

Legend has it that on one of his military campaigns, King Vishvamitra visited a great sage. The sage took care of the king and his entire army, feeding them great feasts. When the king asked the obviously poor sage how he could feed so many people, the sage replied that his magical cow was responsible.

The king was amazed, and thought how useful it would be to own such an animal, so he asked for the cow as a gift. The sage refused, and this enraged the king so much he ordered his army to kill the sage and take the cow.

Even though the king and his army stood against only one man, they were defeated by the mystic power of the sage. When the king saw the what the sage could do, he wanted that power for himself. He decided to give up his kingdom, and become a sage himself through the practice of yoga.

Vishvamitra spent many years practicing yoga, and slowly obtained the power he sought through hard work and practice.

He would often face setbacks, losing the power he craved when he would use it for ill intent, cursing someone or having an affair with a beautiful girl. Eventually, he realized that the only way he could have the power was to finally conquer his personal demons of lust and anger.

Over time, and through many pitfalls, Visvamitra became known as a great sage.

His story is embodied by the posture vishvamitrasana—a challenging standing pose that is a twist, hip opener and arm balance all in one.

Vishvamitra’s journey shows that progress in life often involves trial and error, and that persistence will lead to success. Yoga is rarely the easy path, but it’s certainly one worth pursuing.

Epic myths from the East and the timeless stories of the West arose from the wisdom of the land to guide us to a deeper understanding of the world, and our place in it. Yoga poses are an outward expression of the inner journey that dissolves our separation from all that is around us.

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Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Wikicommons 

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