The Tale of Chaturanga Dandasana
Once upon a time in the busy city of London, there lived a yoga teacher called Chaturanga Dandasana (Chaturanga for short). She spent her days travelling through the city on trains, tubes and her tadasana trained feet, to teach the city folk in studios, gyms and living rooms. For many years she had practised yoga, travelling to faraway lands to be taught by great teachers, each time returning to London excited to share all that she had learnt.
To Chaturanga yoga was magic. It transformed her body from tired and tense to relaxed, open and energised. Yoga could shift her perspective on difficult situations and difficult people. It also made her realise over the years that she had magical powers inside of her too.
One evening after a busy day teaching and meeting yoga teacher friends for tea, Chaturanga dragged her tired tadasana trained feet back to her house. She felt over stimulated, over flowing with information and rather lost after her day. Chaturanga knew just what she needed, and before she knew it she was on her yoga mat ready for some yin yoga; which she loved for it’s calming and rejuvenating effect on her.
Whilst Chaturanga was meditating at the end of her practice, she found she could see more clearly the feelings the day had left within her. It seemed that tea with her yoga teacher friends had left her feeling less than beautiful; she had felt unfashionable, unsuccessful and unworthy. Chaturanga began to wonder; if these sort of feelings could be felt so easily, after many years of practising yoga, then what exactly was she cultivating in her practise?
Her mind recalled the eight limbs of yoga, and in her heart she realised she had long forgotten these wise teachings. Instead she had got lost in her busy city life and a yoga practise focused on the physical. Her heart whispered beneath the busy thinking mind, let go! Let go of how attached you have become to the city of London and re-find the city within, where the heart rules and the rest follows.
The word ‘beautiful’ lay in Chaturanga’s mind and her heart began to question it’s meaning. She pondered on what it would mean to feel beautiful not just look beautiful?
Feeling beautiful had something to do, she felt, with cultivating a relationship with herself that was consistently and unconditionally one of love. Whereas simply looking beautiful, regardless of how she was feeling depended on external factors for how much acceptance and self worth she carried within.
As Chaturanga’s heart began to pose one question after another, each one gracefully guiding her towards what had been lost, she reached for her yoga teacher pen and wrote each one down (in her yoga teacher book).
What was her yoga practise beyond the beautiful studios, a fashionable job and expensive clothes from MeMeMelon?
Could she truly be her own most intimate friend without judgement, going deeply beyond what her job was, what she was wearing and where she was living?
Did she love herself beyond the external world, in the life she was living right now?
Did she consistently speak to herself with the compassion of a good friend?
Did she value herself by valuing her time or did she keep herself so busy, that from time to time her inner world had no choice but to run on empty?
Did she take responsibility for herself so that she could truly serve others like she longed to do, or did she blame the external world or herself for the state of her mind, body and heart?
Did she confront problems by supporting herself solve them or did she berate herself, get angry and push problems away?
Could she challenge herself to explore finding an inner connection, an inner grace and strength that went beyond all the external stuff she seemed to currently rely on for identity and validation?
Was she cultivating an identity in yoga that was based on a deep strong connection with her true self, the self that existed when all the external stuff was long gone?
If she placed her identity in a continuously changing, shifting and altering world, could she ever truly feel grounded, balanced and secure within herself?
If she instead sought to place her identity within herself, connected to a higher self, perhaps she could truly find her place in this world. This, Chaturanga thought, was a goal worth cultivating in her yoga practise. This, she thought was something she would quite like to share.
As she put away her yoga teacher pen and her yoga teacher book, she decided that today she would feel beautiful not just look beautiful.