T-Ph04 Taster. Reflections on the Grades of Sadhaka

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    Alan Goode

    This forum is for participants to post reflective statements.
    Give an example for one of the two questions below
    1. Provide on example of an asana where you have experienced significant change by applying the grades of Sadhaka approach in practise. Name the asana and briefly describe your experience, considering and noting your tendencies and how they affected your experience.
    2. In the Levels of Sadhaka table the second stage in Vairagya, Vyaiteka translates as ‘keeping away from desire’. What does this mean to you? You may reflect from a practise or personal perspective.


    My first experience with Urdhva Dhanurasana was using a bolster, belt and two blocks to the wall. The senses engaged with fear, desire and wonder. Am I physically able to do this asana? During the preparatory asana, Chair Viparita Dandasana, I also experienced the same sensations. What if I get stuck and can’t get up? My back feels like it is going to snap. My lower back hurts. My tendency when faced with a challenge is to work harder, push through whatever is going on. My tendency when faced with pain is also to push through it, although I will step back from the edge of pain that feels like it may lead to injury and creep towards it later to see if I can go further. Then worry creeps in. Am I ready for this asana?
    Pushing up into Urdhva Dhanurasana for the first time was just about getting up. Delirious really. Relying completely on the teachers cues, trusting the process and going with the class. Once up it was time to celebrate, another tendency of mine, which led to a me missing some of the teachers cues. Now I was really stuck, panting and not knowing what else to do. My wrists were sore. I was sure they wouldn’t hold me any longer. I came down.
    I included Urdhva Dhanurasana regularly into my home practice (working hard at holding for as long as I could whilst panting profusely). The weekly class I attended built on the first experience over the next four weeks. Fast forward four or so months. I didn’t feel I had progressed much. Still at the wall with blocks panting. In preparation for a home practise, I conducted a literature review using a number of texts and noted from Light on Yoga using an exhalation to push up onto the head, two breaths in between and then another exhalation to push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. This changed the whole experience of entering this asana for me on that day. My mind was still in the asana, Ekendriya. It was less intense, effortless almost, I was no longer puffing and had a moment where I felt I could hold it forever. I could feel the asana, my awareness was drawn to observing/witnessing the sensations, the backs of the thighs lifting; the front thighs burning, (pleasantly); the palms pressing; the wrists no longer hurting; walking the toes in; placing the heels to the floor. Then I celebrated! Lost the connection and communication with the mind, body and breath. Came down and reflected staring at the ceiling. The teacher had been calling the breath cues since day one. Why did it take four months for me to engage with the breath? What a significant difference it made to the whole experience. Today when learning new asanas and working with others I bring a conscious application of breath to my practise, when I remember. There is still a moment of celebration when I feel an asana however the way I celebrate has changed. Less Ínstagram’ more humbled by the asana and what it teaches me.

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