The Asvattha Tree is the Sanskrit name for the sacred Pipal tree; a relative of the Banyan. Asvattha meaning that which will not be tomorrow. Normally we don't see the roots of a tree as they are under the earth, but by the very fact that the tree is there, we know that the roots are also there, as otherwise how does the tree stand? This Asvattha Tree is said to be indestructible, standing with its roots above the earth and its branches are below, its leaves representing all Vedic knowledge, those who come to know this tree, come also to know the knowledge of the Vedas and the triangle of life; Samsara. Some of the branches of the tree go up and some go down, representing some of our actions as becoming and some as not. The tree is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita as a tool from Lord Krishna to explain to Arjuna the rules of cause and effect and how we are governed by the 3 qualities of nature, the Gunas; sattva, rajas and tamas, that of purity, action and laziness. By our practice of yoga we try to bring the 3 gunas into equilibrium to form perfect balance and be able to transcend ourselves. Working with our inversions, essentially sirshasana (headstand) and sarvangasana (shoulderstand), can be a process that teaches us so much, rather than worrying about getting to that perfect posture we would like to put on a postcard and send to someone, it is the whole process of learning these poses that makes all the difference. It doesn't matter how long it takes and the journey may seem very long at the beginning, but giving ourselves the time and being patient is key to the process. Often it is the case we put so much pressure on ourselves that we have to be better, stronger, more flexible etc that we forget the benefits from simply going slow and taking the asana step by step and not racing onto the next stage before we are ready. Remember often it is the process that teaches us most and not the final position. Inversions teach us a lot of patience and acceptance, some days they may come easy and some days not so, we have to learn to accept that. They teach us how to overcome fears that we are facing and build on our confidence, someone practicing the headstand rarely suffers from a nervous disposition. And turning ourselves upside down can help us see things from a different perspective. Don't worry if you think you can't do it at first, the very fact that you are trying means you are doing it. So often in class I hear from my students "I can't do that!" As I look at them and reply 'You are doing it!.' The effort is there, so the results will be there, it isn't about how you look in the pose as long as we are doing it safely, but suddenly when you approach a difficult situation in life with confidence that may surprise you, where did that confidence come from? From practicing that headstand. When you endure something with more grace than you expected in a work or home situation, where did that endurance come from? From practicing that headstand. So have faith, dig deeply into your heart find your beautiful branches and leaves and turn them upside down for a while, you just might see something you didn't see before. We are limitless as to what we can achieve but we must have patience and acceptance to get to that final goal, be courageous and battle on my friend, become the Asvattha tree and be strong and wonderful.
Free headstand clinic after class every wednesday at Pranamaya yoga studio, Moksh, Patan, Kathmandu; 9.30-10.45. Clinic follows class.
Just breath and let the universe take care of everything else
om om shanti om
nicky/ mangala :-)