Behind every yoga posture (asana), a story can be found! Behind the iconic Warrior sequence, there is a colorful story of passions. This particular story is a love story, a tragedy, a drama and a cautionary tale with elements of attachment, shame, violence, sadness, compassion and renunciation.
Are you ready for this tale!? Read On. . .
Once upon a long time ago, lived a great king - Daksha, a nobly born son of Brahma. Daksha was very rich and powerful, blessed with 100 beautiful daughters, and he served as the high priest to the ASURAS (Gods). Out of his 100 beautiful daughters, his favorite was the youngest- Sati, who happened to be an incarnation of Parvati. As one would suppose, an incarnation of Parvati would be drawn to Shiva, and so it was Sati was helplessly in love with Shiva, and was determined to marry him. Daksha disliked Shiva intensely, and was determined that this unorthodox yogi, god of death, destruction and transformation, who hung around graveyards smoking bhang, and keeping company with goblins, ghouls and other unmentionables, wearing tattered skins and nappy dreadlocks - would never wed his daughter. Love won out however, and Lord Shiva and Sati wed and lived happily in the pleasure city Shiva created for them on Mt. Kailash.
Shortly after Sati had left home to her new domicile, Daksha, being the high priest to the gods organized a HUGE yagna or ritual sacrifice. Ritual celebrations in themselves are not a bad thing, but this one was for the wrong reasons. Rather than devotion , the purpose of this yagna was to show off his wealth, his social standings and to intentionally avoid Shiva and Sati. Daksha invited anyone who was anyone back in Long Ago BC: all the Gods and demi gods, nymphs, air spirits, celestial beings, nature elementals, wealthy kings, shamans, priests, etc. Think Kardashian wedding of long ago B.C. Everyone that is except for Shiva and Sati. Shiva could have cared less. Life up on Mt. Kailash was sweet and he told Sati to leave well enough alone. Sati was heartbroken at not being invited, and insisted upon crashing this party. So, despite Shiva's admonitions Sati ignored social etiquette and her husband's wishes and went without Shiva to the ceremony. Upon seeing her at the yagna, rather than embrace her, Daksha belittled, embarrassed and ridiculed her in front of the guests. All the guests present laughed. Humiliated, Sati was unable to bear further insult, decided that she wanted nothing more to do with her father, including the body he had given her. She fell into a mystic trance and began to increase her inner fire through yogic exercises until she burst into flames and perished.
When news of Sati's death reached Shiva, he was shocked, sadden- and enraged. The Lord of Destruction fell into blackness. He tore his clothes, ripped out his hair and shrieked in fury. He picked up the dreads he had torn out, and from these he fashioned the fiercest warrior to carry out his revenge, Vira (hero) Bhadra (friend) - and gave him the task of retribution for his lost Sati. He sent him to the yagna to kill Daksha and the guests who had humiliated his love.
Shiva arrives at Daksha's palace to see the damage that Virabhadra has ravaged. His anger is gone, but now he is full of profound sorrow for himself, for Sati, for Daksha. Sorrow turns to compassion as he sees the bloody aftermath of his rage. He finds Daksha's headless body and he brings him back to life, giving him a goats head in place of the one lost. Daksha, overwhelmed by this generous action, bows in awe and humility to Shiva Shankar (Benevolent one). All follow his suite and honor Shiva. Sati, however is still dead. Shiva gathers up the body of his bride, and wanders the earth crazed w/ grief knowing that somewhere somehow, they will be together again.
Moral of the story
The higher self (Shiva) slays the prideful ego (Daksha) for the sake of the heart (Sati). Through infinite compassion, the higher self forgives the ego. The essential nature of the heart is the power of love, which will be brought back to life again in another form. . .but that is another story.
“To the warriors of light, there is no such thing as impossible love.
They don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by silence, or by rejection.
They know that behind the icy mask people wear there is a heart of fire.
That is why the warriors risk more than others.
They tirelessly seek love, even if this means hearing, many times over, the word ‘no’,
returning home defeated, feeling rejected in body and soul.
Warriors don’t allow themselves to be discouraged.
Without love, living has no meaning.”
I fell in LOVE with YOGA the first time I went parachuting. Yep! My mother added my name a a list of volunteers who were prepared to jump out of an airplane to raise money for charity. It was one of those things she knew I wanted to do, but I remember thinking ‘but do I want to do it ‘now’? A group of us went. We were working at the RAC Club in Epsom, England, and we headed out for the weekend to train and to jump. Let’s fast-forward to the jump itself. It was my first experience of Yoga. What?!
So, the definition of Yoga is "a union of space and time and body and soul that enable you to be in the present moment." Yoga is an experience of the present moment. See?! I definitely ‘did’ Yoga that day. From suiting up to preparing to jump out of the Cessna, to being told ‘now!’ to jumping out of the airplane, I was totally ‘doing’ Yoga – I was totally present and totally aware of where I was and what I was doing. And the jump itself.. well that was the epitome of yoga. And I fell in love. Without knowing anything about Yoga, I found myself in the present moment. Away from doing to just ‘being’.
Let’s use a few adverbs here; BRILLIANT, AWESOME, AMAZING, FABULOUS, EARTH SHATTERING, INCREDIBLE. . .I could go on . . . ! From the moment I jumped out of the airplane, the world became ‘my’ world and everything transpired in slow motion. Floating in the air, falling through the sky, everything was still and quiet and real and ‘now’, and yet everything around me was so small and seemingly insignificant. I was superbly happy. I was experiencing every single second of some few minutes before reality set in and I had to start ‘doing’ and get ready to land.
I never realized I was practicing yoga until I actually practiced it for the first time. Didn’t enjoy the class at all, but right there at the end of the class, in Savasana, I had the very same experience that I’d had as I was descending through the air; being present as a single entity in the world whilst simultaneously being a part of the whole world and being superbly happy.
The next day, despite being 8 months pregnant, I signed up for yoga teacher training. I wanted that same experience, and I have worked towards that same experience every day since. I practice yoga every day. I try to be as present as I was on that day floating to earth. Some days I am. Some days I am not. I work to continue to experience ‘being’ in the moment.
I have been parachuting and skydiving 4 more times since my first jump and have been teaching and practicing yoga every day. Thanks mum!