Yoga resembles Greek mythology: it’s filled with stories. Some have a deeper meaning, some are funny, and all are fascinating. Each pose has its story, which is detailed during a class (an individual class for each pose). Last Sunday, I presented the story behind the Crane Pose (Bakasana in San-skrit).
It is fascinating to watch someone do this pose. It is part of the “arm balancing” category and it strengthens both the arms and the abdominal organs. The spine is extended to its maximum. If it’s executed regularly, this pose contributes to your flexibility. More so, it cultivates the power to con-centrate, your balance and coordination skills. The pose resembles a crane that drinks water. I invite you to discover the story behind it:
“Mahabharata”, the longest epic creation of universal literature, represents the fundamental element of Hindu mythology. Its name literally translates into “the great war of the Bharata clan”. The story revolves around the fight for supremacy between two families. However, it debates the main pur-poses of humankind (artha – the intention, kama – the satisfaction, dharma – the obligation, moksha – the liberation) and it tries to explain the relationship between individual, society and karma.
One day, the brothers from the two rivaling families were competing in a game of javelin throwing and decided to exile the losers to the forest for the next twelve years. This is how the five brothers in the Pandavas clan ended up retiring to the mountains. They were tired of the heat and had enough of wandering through the valleys and hills, so they tried to find a lake where they can quench their thirst. Happy to have found one, while they hurry towards it, they hear, out of no-where, a voice that cautions them:
- “If you drink from the lake, you will die.”
The younger brother does not listen, drinks the water and… dies. The next brother follows his lead, even if the voice repeats the same message. Soon, he dies too. The same happens to the next brother, until there is only one brother left, the king. Stunned by what he had just witnessed, he sees in the lake the silhouette of a crane. The crane tells him:
- “I am the one who killed your brothers. If you want to bring them back to life, you have to answer some questions. In the end, I will decide if your answers are good enough.”
The first question was:
- “What is happening in the world lately?”
Upon hearing this question, the king decides not to inform it about the latest economic situation or natural disaster, and answers:
- “The world suffers from the growing ignorance in which people live their lives. They have disconnected from their inner source and they suffer greatly because of this fact.”
The crane is surprised by the answer it receives and continues with the next question:
- “What is the most surprising thing in the world?”
Instead of answering the Taj Mahal or the pyramids of Egypt, the king replies:
- “Death is the most surprising thing in the world because even if it surrounds us everywhere, we believe it won’t happen to us. This impossibility of accepting death makes our ignorance grow even further and it averts us from living our lives to the fullest.”
- “What is the right path?”
- “The right path is the one of those who have found their true self and speak the great simple truths of life. When we surround ourselves with their messages, we are contaminated by their energy”, the king replies further.
- “Who is happy in the world?”
- “Happy in the world is the one that has paid all his karmic debts. In yoga, illumination is on-ly attained by the ones that close their karmic cycle.”
Content with the answers he has received, the crane presents himself as the king of Death. He brings the king’s brothers back to life and quenches their thirst for water.
These four questions summarize the yoga path. This path starts with the first step, which is connect-ing ourselves to our own self, to our inner intelligence. As we do this more often, ignorance begins disappearing and we begin seeing reality as it is, not as we wish it to be. We begin living in the pre-sent moment and connecting to our intuition, which guides us every step of the way. The more we listen to our intuition, the more we become honest about who we are, and we find peace and bal-ance in all of life’s experiences – the same way the king didn’t lose his composure when his brothers died. This is the crane’s invitation: we should find our balance when life isn’t as we wish it to be.