Any pose that brings us comfort and steadiness is an āsana. If you can achieve one pose, that is enough. It may sound easy, but in how many poses are we really comfortable and steady? Why is flexibility important?
As soon as we sit in a particular position there’s a small cramp here, a tiny pain there. We have to move this way in that. Continuously we are reminded of our legs, hands, hips, and spine.
Unless the body is perfectly healthy and free from all toxins and tensions, a comfortable pose is not easily obtained. Physical and mental toxins create stiffness intention. Anything that makes us stiff can also break us. Only if we are supple will we never break. Here are 5 poses you can do at your desk to get started.
Nature’s Story, The Value of Flexibility
That reminds me of a conversation between a weed and a big tree. Both grew on the bank of a swiftly running jungle river. One day the tree looked down at the tiny weed and said, “Hey you puny little creature, why do you stand near me? Aren’t you ashamed to be by my side? See how great how big how tall I am? How sturdy and strong? Even an elephant cannot move me. But look at you. Hah! You shouldn’t have come here. People will see the difference and laugh at you. Why don’t you move somewhere else?”
The weed bent its head. “Tree,” the weed said, what can I do? I didn’t come here purposely. I just happen to be here. I know I’m not as strong and stiff as you. But please pardon my presence.”
“All right,” boom to the tree, “but just remember your place!”
This conversation happened during the rainy season. The very next day a heavy rain came, inundating the jungle and causing a terrible flood. When a river floods it erodes the banks and pulls down anything in its way. Coming in such force, the water pulls down the great tree instantly. But the weed bent down, flattened itself completely, and let the water run over it.
When the flood passed, the weed rose up again. Looking this way in that, it wondered, “What happened to the great tree? I don’t see it.”
From far away it heard the trees reply. “I’m being pulled down by the water. It should have been humble and simple and supple like you. Now I’m being destroyed.”
What we need is the strength of steel, but with steel’s flexibility- not like crude iron, which is very strong and hard but breaks. The body must be so supple it can bend any way you want it to. Such a body will always be healthy and tension free. The moment we sit down for meditation in us such a body, we will forget it.
Preparing for Flexibility
In order to achieve such a meditative pose, we may practice many preliminary cultural poses. This is why hatha yoga was created. People trying to sit quietly found they couldn’t. They encountered pain, stiffness, bile, gas, etc., and thought “What is the reason for these things and how can we get rid of them?”
They realize it was due to toxins from eating the wrong foods, and at the wrong times in the wrong quantities. These people pondered, “What is good food that won’t leave toxins? What should the limit be? When is the proper time to eat?” They formed the Yoga Diet, free of meat, fish, eggs, stimulants, and excessive use of spices.
The next problem was “What do we do with the toxins already inside the body?” They concluded that these could be gotten rid of by squeezing the body in all different directions. For example, they found the way to cleanse the liver, spleen, and intestines was by doing the forward-bending pose, paścimottanāsāna, which is bending forward and crushing the stomach a bit.
If this wasn’t enough, they develop Yoga mudrā in order to crush it more. If toxins were still present they came up with mayūrāsana, the peacock pose. If this still wasn’t good enough, they created uddīyāna bandha, the stomach lift, and nauli, the stomach churning.
When the spine is stiff and didn’t want to move, they employed postures that bent it forward, backward, sideways, and upside down. Although hatha yoga and several thousands of years old, it has never become outdated. The truth of it is always current. They are light gold. Although other things lose their value according to time, gold is always the same.
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