Yoga - Renouncing on the mat
by Shameem Akthar
You need to renounce your sense of either wanting to do it or not wanting to do it, to achieve success with any yoga pose
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
We have created a cult of renunciation. However, in yoga renunciation starts simply – on the mat. You get a pose by renouncing effort, you stay in it by renouncing the sense of achievement. Even the discipline of practice comes when you renounce your sense of either wanting to do it or not wanting to do it.
Most people talk of passion as a primary motivation for doing something in their life. However, as you advance in yoga you renounce all those props most others need to prod them into practice, including passion. Some props beginners to a yoga practice need include a need to look good, initially a useful one for most beginners, or a need to be healthy.
Others are the sense of achievement you feel when you are disciplined on the mat, the pleasure discipline itself gives, the sense of being on some road or progress towards a worthy goal (including spiritual ones). However, later on, as you practise regularly, you learn slowly to leave all that behind.
The phenomenon happens automatically. Initially, even beginners realise that they can hold on to their progress only when they slowly accept the important role of renunciation on the mat. They learn that they have to give up those nice highs they get when rolling out their mat, the sense of achievement in a pose, the thrill of getting into some exotic pose, or for those who don’t get excited about that – their sense of connection with the same old routine. Even these seemingly harmless emotions have to be left behind.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says that there can be no raja yoga (yoga of the mind), without hatha yoga (yoga of the body) and vice versa. Because in yoga we cannot become attached to anything, including the sense of complacency in a certain type of practice, the subtle pride in the discipline of practice, or the rigorousness of it. You have to renounce first on the mat before you renounce in life.
Advasana (Prone corpse pose):
Exhalation is said to be linked to dispassion or vairagya. Try this pose below first to deepen your breath. The pose automatically encourages this. Later, you can try to inhale to a count of four and exhale to a count of six or eight.
Lie on your stomach. Stretch out legs behind, flaring feet away from each other, or placing them so the big toes touch and the heels are away. Place chin on ground, as well as forehead, ensuring the nose is not feeling pressed
down. Pass palms overhead, as shown, bringing them together to form the prayer gesture/namaste. Hold for as long as is comfortable.
Benefits: Though this pose requires some getting-used-to, it is also a safe pose that helps the practitioner remain in meditation for long. It deepens the breath powerfully, working on the parasympathetic nervous system to create a healing flow in the mind and body.