"And the wise seeker knows: the fruit of my endeavours will be commensurate with the intensity of my self-effort, and neither fate nor a god can ordain it otherwise". The Yoga Vasistha section II chapter 7 8
I was reminded of this today on hearing a good friend nailed her tic tac, it also made me think of another friend who recently dropped back and then came back up again for the first time, and of yet another friend who bound Marichiyasana D for the first time. All had been working on these for a considerable period, in some cases years.
On the Leon workshop last weekend, I was asked something along the lines of whether there was a posture I couldn't do, or was that in the interview? Either way, my answer was 'No, there wasn't a posture that I didn't think I could do'. That sounds a little arrogant right, but god when I started Ashtanga I though most postures would be beyond a man of my age and flexibility... but then I finally touched my toes and then managed to keep the backs of my knees on the floor in paschimottanasana and then bound in Ardhabaddha padmasana. I bound too in Marchiyasana D and then dropped back and came up again. I touched my toes in kapotasana and then my heels and even took my ankles.... and from the air. And on it went, each posture I thought I'd never do finally become doable, approachable, such that I began to believe that yes, perhaps anything could be achieved... with work, within the Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama Syllabuses anyway (although kandasana has been stubborn and I still haven't grabbed my heels in chakorasana).
What does this teach us.... how do we justify this work we put into our asana practice....
Perseverance? Self belief? Patience?
"And the wise seeker knows: the fruit of my endeavours will be commensurate with the intensity of my self-effort, and neither fate nor a god can ordain it otherwise".
What else IS possible?
Is loving kindness possible? If I can love you, stranger, as much as my beloved. If I can love you, enemy, as much as my revered teacher......
Is knowing the self possible, transcending the self approachable? Can I see, know, that I am not this or that or that, nor that, nor that, nor that,....24 tatva times not that....
Oscar and I talked about yoga and health and how that aspect of yoga did not concern me as much as perhaps it should (although I appreciate good health and fitness as a byproduct). I mentioned that Krishnamacharya had listed, as a benefit of a posture (I forget which), that it was good for overcoming leprosy........
An asana that can overcome leprosy?
Do we believe that?
Is that possible?
And yet there is leprosy of the body and leprosy of the mind, of the body it's merely another disease, 'Hansen's disease' is another name for it and it's caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. But of the mind.... if I have Hansen's disease and look at you and see reflected in your face, fear, disgust, if I see leprosy there then that perhaps is what I have and that is who I am, who I see in the morning in the window pane.
But if through my practice, my asana practice, my pranayama practice, my pratyahara practice, my meditation practices and yamas/niyamas..... if through my practice I can employ the body to overcome the body, disassociate myself from my body, from the experiences of the senses, the perception of self..... not that, not that, 24 times not that, then perhaps I do overcome leporosy, and all that is left is a body, with the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis, with which I am familiar.
Perhaps this asana, if I stay long enough, if the integrity of my breath maintained, my kumbhaka, then perhaps it can can overcome leprosy, perhaps that is possible.
Perhaps it is possible to know god or the absence of god..... one asana at a time.
Appendix - Why Kumbhaka?
Yoga Vasistha section VI.1chapter25
Yoga Vasistha section VI.1chapter25
If one practises kumbhaka (suspension of breath) after exhaling the prana to a distance farther from where the apana rises (the twelve fingerbreadth distance), he is not subject to sorrow any more.
Or, if one is able to see the space within oneself where the inhaled breath turns into the impulse for exhalation, he is not born again.
By seeing where the praga and the apana terminate their motions and by holding fast to that state of peace, one is not subject to sorrow again.
If one keenly observes the place and the exact moment at which the prana is consumed by the apana, he does not grieve.
Or, if one keenly observes the place and the exact moment at which the apana is consumed by prana, his mind does not arise again.
behold that place and that moment at which prana is consumed by apana and apana is consumed by prana inside and outside the body.
For that precise moment at which the prana has ceased to move and the apana has not begun to move, there arises a kumbhaka which is effortless: the wise regard that as an important state.
When there is effortless suspension of breath, it is the supreme state.
This is the self, it is pure infinite consciousness.
He who reaches this does not grieve.
I contemplate that infinite consciousness which is the indwelling presence in the prana but which is neither with prana nor other than prana.
I contemplate that infinite consciousness which is the indwelling presence in the apana but which is neither with apana nor other than apana.
That which IS after the prana and the apana have ceased to be and which is in the middle between prana and apana - I contemplate that infinite consciousness. I contemplate that consciousness which is the prana of prana, which is the life of life, which alone is responsible for the preservation of the body; which is the mind of the mind, the intelligence in the intellect, the reality in the egosense.
I salute that consciousness in which all things abide, from which they emerge, which is all and everywhere and which is all in all and eternal; which is the purifier of all and whose vision is most meritorious.
I salute that consciousness in which prana ceases to move but apana does not arise and which dwells in the space in front (or at the root) of the nose.
I salute the consciousness which is the source for both prana and apana, which is the energy in both prana and apana and which enables the senses to function.
I salute that consciousness which is in fact the essence of the internal and the external kumbhakas, which is the only goal of the contemplation of prana, which enables the prana to function and which is the cause of all causes.
I take refuge in that supreme being.