I have been reading much about Ramana Maharshi. I was first introduced to him in a mediation group I used to attend many years ago. Maharshi’s basic premise is that we are already enlightened, we just have to ask ourselves “who am I?” It is a bit more complicated than that, but maybe it isn’t.
I have been finding that question useful in my personal sadhana. I am working hard toward my Junior Intermediate I certification. Some of the most difficult poses for me are seated lateral twists. Mainly because of my girth. It is easy not to accept yourself when you are struggling in a twist. The asanas are like looking at your body through a microscope and seeing every imperfection amplified with a x1000 lens.
Every day I have been doing twists and making progress. Right when I feel discouraged, and uncomfortable, I ask myself a question: “Who is it that is struggling in this pose?” Suddenly, the twist gets deeper and more profound. The chakras align and spin. This spine works its wonders. In ardha matsyendrasana, I reach my knee, a huge milestone toward the summit-the foot. I am not there yet. “Who is not there yet?”
I reflect on Ardha Matsyendrasana. This is a pose with a beautiful lineage all the way from Shiva. Shiva was at a lakeside with Parvati, his girlfriend. Shiva and Parvati have a complicated relationship. He is teaching her yoga, but she is not listening to him. A fish in the lake is listening to Shiva’s words and becomes instantly enlightened and takes the form of Matseyandra–half man, half fish.
As I struggle in the pose I listen for Shiva’s words. All that comes is “I am” “I am.” Shivoham, Shivoham. I am not this struggling body. I am beyond that. I am beyond here and now. It doesn’t matter that I reach my foot, or my knee, or any twist at all. The main thing is that I am practicing sincerely daily. Not just in Yoga, but in life.