Hi there! It's beetee. I hope you are well. If you, like me, celebrate Lunar New Year, Happy New Year! May the year of the Tiger brings you the King of the Jungle's energy, strength, power, courage and valor! After all those (fatty) celebrations, time to get back to our yoga mat, shall we?
This week's quick dive: Warrior 1, Asteya (Non-stealing) and Take The Money and Run.
Yoga Pose of The Week: Virabhadrasana Warrior 1
If yoga is such a peaceful practice for both the body and the mind, why would a yoga pose be named Warrior? Who's at war?
Well, there's an ancient story related to the Warrior poses in yoga. Lord Shiva, despite being Master of the Universe, was not approved of by his wife Sati's family. At a party organised by Sati's father, the whole universe was invited, except Shiva and Sati. Sati showed up anyway and received countless humiliations from her family, so unbearable she decided to throw herself in the fire and burst into flames.
Receiving the terrifying news, Shiva was overcome with anger and grief. In an ecstasy of rage, he tore his hair out and flung it to the ground. The next moment, rose from the ground a Warrior, Virabhadra, a personification of Shiva's emotions, who saluted Shiva and dashed to kill Sati's father in revenge.
When the anger storm passed, Shiva arrived to see the damages done by Virabhadra. He brought Sati's father back to life. As for Sati, she was reborn as Parvati, Shiva's second wife, the one who encouraged him to invent yoga out of compassion, and therefore also his first student.
It's an ancient story with a lot of characters. But actually, could you tell that they represent different personalities we all carry, all at once? You'll understand the moral of the story. I'm right here if you want to dig in more on this.
(Many thanks to my friend Jolin who gifted me the book Downward Dog & Warriors - Wisdom Tales for Modern Yogis by Zo Newell PhD, in which I read this powerful Virabhadra's story).
Anyway, back to the yoga mat in present day, in Warrior 1, pay attention to the position of the hips: Square The Hips. Actually, to be more precise, I'd say: Square the Ships (a portmanteau between Shoulders and Hips!). If you take a pen and draw to connect the shoulder joints and the hips joints, it should form a square (or rectangle). In such position, because your back leg is extended, make sure you engage the quadriceps (front thigh muscles). This will help you avoid twisting that back knee.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga - Asteya
The Eight Limbs of Yoga continues this week with Asteya, one of the Yama. As a reminder, the five Yama govern a yogi's social conduct and how we should treat other people around us. In Sanskrit, Asteya means non-stealing. This notion goes beyond the physical act of stealing. In fact, it scratches the root cause of stealing: the desire to possess what others have. Stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner. The yogi reduces his physical needs to the minimum, believing that if he gathers things he does not really need, he is a thief.
In this sense, the famous Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo is a true yogi, don't you think? Go and look in your closet, and discover how many different types and bottles of facial moisturisers you have and don't use. How much food you have in your cabinet that has expired? How many shirts have you not worn at least once for the past year? A friend of mine taught me this trick to hang the shirt hangers facing out on the rack, once every six month, so that it shows you how many you have not touched during that time. Those are good to go! Those extra materials would have found a much better chance at serving this world in someone else's possession, and make someone's day a brighter one.
Practice abundance. Remind yourself that you already have enough, because you are enough, you don't need more and nobody gets to require you to be more.
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
Take The Money and Run
As we talk about non-stealing in the yogic teachings this week, I thought it would be ironic to share with you this story. In 2007, a Danish conceptual artist named Jens Haaning borrowed €25,700 from a local bank, in bank notes and coins, framed it on a canvas and called his artwork "An Average Austrian Year Income, 2007". People loved it.
A few years later, he did it again and called it this time "An Average Danish Year Income, 2010”.
In June last year, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in the city of Aalborg, Denmark reached out to Haaning and commissioned him to recreate two of his artworks for an exhibition about the future of labour. He would be paid around $3,000 for the work. They sent him half a million kroners in notes and coins (about $77,000) as materials for the artwork. Haaning sent back two blank canvases. The money was nowhere to be seen. He called his new work "Take The Money and Run".
Interviewed by a Danish radio, Haaning explained: “The work is that I have taken their money,” His new artwork reflects what he thought was the unfair deal he’d agreed to, and by extension, the deals that other workers wind up caught in. "I encourage other people who have just as miserable working conditions as me to do the same," he said. "If they are sitting on some shit job and not getting money and are actually being asked to give money to go to work, they should take the money and run.”
The museum was amused and decided to display Haaning's work anyway, with due explanations. However, last month, they decided to issue a law suit to recover their money...
Is Haaning an anti-yogi, you think, because he stole the money? Hmm I'm not sure. If you think about his message implied in his work, who's the thief here? Let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading! But don't leave just yet!
Ask me TWO questions or leave me TWO comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of bimonthly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.