Blog post by Anjali Davidson
In yoga, we call liberation by the name of Moksha or Nirvana, which is the state of being in ultimate reality or perfection. However, it must be noted that there is a rather significant difference between the two. In Buddhism, Nirvana is the realization that you are nothing and it is a “blowing out” or “extinction”. In Hinduism, Moksha is realization that you are one with Brahman, which is one of the many name for God/Spirit/Source. Our practice of yoga is one of the many paths toward realization, whatever that means to the practitioner. It can lean toward nothingness, a complete dissolution of identity, or it can be such oneness that you lose your sense of ego and become spirit.
POSE OF THE MONTH: CHAKRASANA (WHEEL POSE)
In Sanskrit, chakra means wheel, so our pose of the month is chakrasana, or “wheel pose”. Another name for this pose is urdhva dhanurasana, which means upright bow pose. This is one of the deepest backbends in our studio’s asana practice, and should be approached with a mix of caution and curiosity. Chakrasana strengthens the entire torso, which has to work very hard to hold the body upright. As all backbends, it opens the entire front side of the body, including the chest, arms and thighs. It helps to strengthen the muscles around the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine. In addition to the physical benefits, this pose is said to promote joy, decrease feelings of depression, and help alleviate asthma, back pain, infertility, and osteoporosis.
MUDRA OF THE MONTH: NIRVANA MUDRA
Nirvana Mudra is called the mudra of liberation, bringing about the calm stillness of realization. This mudra specifically helps to facilitate the letting go that is needed in order to find liberation. It is helpful especially for letting go of the ego. The ego is not a singular “thing” that we simply choose to release. Instead, it is a complete collection of personality, including likes/dislikes, habits, desires, actions and emotions. Nirvana Mudra is quite complicated to describe, so we will have to visit this mudra in a class at the studio.
VISUAL FOCUS: SEED OF LIFE
The Seed of Life is seven circles arranged together to create an image that looks like a flower. It is actually the center of the Flower of Life, which will be our visual focus at the end of the year. The Seed of Life is said to represent the seven days of creation, with the seventh day being the Shabbat, or day of rest. The seven circles can also represent the seven chakras, colors of the rainbow, or musical scales. It’s said that with the seed of life, we have the blueprint for all of the universe. It is said to be found within all of creation, in all dimensions.