Guest Blog: The Power of the Myths of Yoga by Alanna Kaivalya

The Power of the Myths of Yoga

by Alanna Kaivalya

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The myths of yoga are captivating and timeless. Practitioners who have been drawn to the stories of the monkey god, Hanuman, or the destroyer, Shiva, know that yoga’s mythology is rich, complex and evocative of the human condition.

These myths have always captivated me in my years of study in yoga. Initially, I started studying the myths in college. I’d never heard such a magical plethora of stories and I was immediately hooked. There was something about the flawed characteristics of the characters I was learning about — Shiva’s temper, Hanuman’s forgetfulness and Kali’s passion for destruction — that intrigued me and made me feel better about my humanness. This seems to be the clincher that draws yoga practitioners to the myths — that through the illumination of the flawed aspects of divinity, we see the power of our own humanness through this lens. If gods can be flawed, can’t we then express divinity through our own humanity?

And, like yoga, these myths are very flexible, changing in response to the audience that needs them. They can be presented in a modern context to speak to real life and our present day condition. The stories of yoga are not exactly canonized, and so we find different stories of all the gods that vary not just from region to region, but sometimes from town to town. No one is “right” and yet every telling of the story reveals the brilliance behind these fantastic myths.

Different versions are often told based on the teller’s own experience and understanding of the myth. As they share their version of the story, we learn a different perspective, and we also learn something about what is important to the narrator. Their telling of the story will reveal the relationship they have to it, and in turn, it will influence the kind of relationship we build with the character in that story, too.

Through the mythology, yoga practitioners find they begin to cultivate a different relationship with the practice that goes far beyond the physical realm. Though many yoga practitioners begin yoga for the physical benefits, yoga is quick to reveal that there is something deeper going on here.

A little inquiry reveals the rich tradition of what yoga has to offer. But where to begin? The sutras may seem too scholarly. Pranayama may feel too austere. But, stories? Stories are embedded within the human psyche and help to illuminate every aspect of our lives. Stories allow us to connect to the tradition, to our teachers, our fellow yogis, and allow us to connect to deeper parts of ourselves. And they’re fun. It’s kind of a win/win. The mythology of yoga gives us access to the deeper realms of our psyche and brings our beloved yoga practice to life.

For example, when we first see an image of Kali — skin the color of night, tongue dripping blood, sharp teeth and necklace of skulls — the image can be overwhelming. Though, when we understand that she represents not just death and destruction, but the slaying of the ego and the power of the feminine to act with passion and urgency, we suddenly have a context for what that might mean to our lives.

Maybe it makes us think of our mother who went to hell and back to protect us. Maybe we think of an image we’ve seen on the National Geographic Channel of a mother lioness fighting for the safety of her cubs. Or, maybe we think of the Greek tale of how Orpheus had to go to the underworld to save Eurydice. Ultimately, Orpheus could not save the girl, but in making that journey, he was able to make the most beautiful music the world had ever known and so her death revealed a new power in him. Stories of all kinds give us deeper access to the things we cannot describe accurately, but that we can feel and understand on an innate level as human beings.

Because every myth illustrates some kind of human truth, every myth calls out to what is enlivened inside our own psyche. Every myth helps us to realize and bring about our true potential. This is the power of mythology. We find some kernel or ultimate truth in every story — a lighthouse that guides us home. The myths that speak to us are the ones we should listen to and follow… no matter what version we know. If it calls to our soul, we should follow it.

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Alanna Kaivalya is the author of Sacred Sound. She is the yoga world’s expert on Hindu mythology and mysticism. Her podcasts have been heard by more than one million people worldwide, and her Kaivalya Yoga Method melds mythology, philosophy, and yoga.Visit her online at http://www.alannak.com.

 

 

Based on the book Sacred Sound © 2014 by Alanna Kaivalya. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

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Guest Blog: Doing Yoga With Your Kids (Balini Sports)

Yes, because yoga can be for kids too. Children are natural yogis and yoginis. Though many people will think that kids doesn’t need the breathing exercises, we fail to remember that kids do also have their own kind of stress that steams from school, sports, lessons, etc.

balini kids

image credit by: yogawellbeing.com

Yoga isn’t just for grownups! These may be the reasons you can rank on to jumpstart that yoga classes for your kids. Yoga poses are natural with kids; they do and exhibit it when they play around. When doing yoga, there are things you can incorporate to make it more meaningful and enjoyable for them.

Tips for a Fun Yoga
1. Incorporate play with yoga. While kids do poses, you can ask them to for various animals pose. You can also ask them to accompany it with sounds, animal sounds at that.
2. Practice 1, 2, 3’s in their poses. Let them do the counting while posing. It keeps them practicing plus they are holding their own time during the session.
3. Narrate A, B, C’s as well. The alphabet can be a good idea to incorporate in classes. Narrate them while holding poses.
4. Talk about benefits as well as the principle of non-harming if doing it with other kids.
5. Break down classes into shorts span. Because kids are naturally having short attention span, make sure that you are offering different things after some time.
6. Focus on balancing techniques. Do it gradually and according to the kids pace.
7. Play games like name a yoga pose. This is for advance practice already when kids are already familiar with poses and has long yoga practice at hand already.
8. Tyr some fun music in the background as well.
9. Emphasize on the importance of breathing.
10. It is best to do it at home together with you as a parent and with the instructor.

Things to Remember for Parents and Instructors
• Do not impose on kids. They are just children after all.
• Just have it as a fun experience, do not expect too much.
• Provide them with comfortable hot yoga clothes
• Enjoy it yourself.
• Explain to kids the rules and things to remember prior the session.
• Have them wear comfortable clothes.
• Keep them responsible for their action.
• Be there to guide and never let them feel inadequate.
• Be careful, be quick and be always there to avoid injuries.

Now, pretty good right? If you have kids, channeling the benefits of yoga from you to them is the most fulfilling thing to do. Knowing that they will have the advantage of the practice is rewarding even more than achieving your own personal goal.

So check out kids’ yoga now, start the practice, begin to teach them to live the yoga lifestyle, love this life even more and prepare them for life!

Namaste,
BaliniSports Team
http://www.BaliniSports.com