Manasa Myths of the Asana Workshop – so awesome!

One of the best things about Manasa Yoga School is the philosophy taught in every class and workshop. Manoj Khaimal is on a quest to get us, his students, to move from the doing to discerning enquiry, from the form to formlessness. In fact, it was his Natarajasana workshop in 2011 that made me decide to do my yoga teacher training with him. The denouement of the philosophy blew my mind and changed my life!

Cobra pose with props from the first day

A similar theme for this workshop was used for this year’s retreat, but for many reasons, foremost my bodybuilding training, I couldn’t go. So I was very much anticipating this new workshop! Because of work, I arrived late, so I didn’t hear the opening story, except that yoga asana is formed on beautiful states of awareness, so we don’t use the word “asana” that readily or loosely at Manasa.

I got to hear the full story of vrksasana, or tree pose, during which a memorable quote from a sage, stayed with me:

May I have the same forbearance as the tree I practice under

After that, on the first day, we went into the myth behind adho mukha svanasana, or downward facing dog, which had a beautiful tale of Yudishthra, the unfilled Pandava, matsyasana or fish pose, setu bandhasana, or bridge pose, bhujangasana, cobra pose, and also went a little into Chinamasta. Of course, we actually practised all the poses and the anatomical ways in which the poses could be better enhanced.

Horsing around with Jean, another of Manasa’s resident teachers!

The second day had even better metaphors expressed in the tales behind the asanas, beginning with child’s pose (adho mukha virasana or balasana). That had a great tale of the boy who went in search of death (Yama), to discover what happens to us after we enter into death. Long story short – our body is a chariot, a gift gift from the self of the universe. Our mind holds the reigns of the chariot, while the horses of the chariots are our ten sense organs. To steer our chariot, we seek to draw the mind close to buddhi, or our discerning capacity / intellect.

On the second day, we also delved into malasana (garland pose), kakasana (crow), bakasana (crane) and mayurasana (peacock pose). The story of mayurasana, and Skanda, or better known to us Malaysians as Subramaniam, who is celebrated during Thaipussam. I love this story, which Manoj tells usually during Thaipussam festivities, but the peacock pose… that’s still not really coming for me…

Of course, we went through all the poses, the anatomical focuses of them all, and inevitably some handstands as well 😝

I loved this workshop, and it was so good to be back on the mat after so long! Hopefully the next time I am on the mat won’t be to long away either! Great way to end the year with Manasa!