A yoga sequence based on Shiva stories.

Moving with yoga sequences based on the stories helps us to embody the capacities we reflect on in the tales. This may move us to greater reflection, and from there, greater clarity and calm within ourselves.

If you are feeling triggered all the time, easily blaming others and seeking clarity for yourself, we can use the stories to perhaps learn a little about our own story – what we tell ourselves, what others have told us, the things that have happened to us and how we responded – and how all this and so much more become part of our narrative.

With mindful reflection and movement through stories, there is potential to declutter. And that is how we slowly move towards clarity and calm for the long term.

The first portion of the yoga sequence (see video below) is based on the yoga pose, Paschimottanasana – or intense stretch of the west pose. The east in yoga symbolises manifestation, which means the west is a place where the raw materials for manifestation comes from – in yoga, it is subjective consciousness and energy, or Shiva and Shakti. Together, they merge and create skilful manifestation.

The second portion of the yoga sequence us based on the three variations of Virabhadrasana, or the warrior poses. These three ‘standard’ poses come from the story of the warrior that arises from Shiva’s rage at Sati’s demise. This warrior is called Virabhadra, the Righteous Warrior.

There appears to be two interpretations of these manifestations, the first one is:

  1. Virabhadrasana 1 is the lifting of the sword; Virabhadrasana 2 is taking aim; andm Virabhadrasana 3 as throwing the sword to behead Daksha, or:
  2. Virabhadrasana 1 as the manifestation of the rage as a righteous warrior; Virabhadrasana 2 representing the beheading of Daksha, and Virabhadrasana 3 as either holding Daksha’s severed head over the sacrificial fire; or as the act of reviving Daksha with a goat head.

Whichever way we look at it, the story is about being skilful about what we seek to domesticate and being mindful about what we are are being possessive and territorial about.

The story is about us – what we fear to let go, whom we seek to control, whether we have grippings on trying to “get into a pose” or “I must do a handstand by the end of the year”.

The third portion of the yoga sequence is based on Kurmasana – Turtle Pose. Shiva is known as the self-reflecting yogi, and is remembered to have withdrawn back into his cave after Sati’s death.

In Shiva temples, there are representations of the turtle, because it is symbolic of the yogi, who can withdraw from the world, just as a turtle can withdraw into its shell.

Kurmasana, however, is not an easy pose (either variation), as you will see in this portion of the yoga sequence. It requires an openness of the hips, low back, and good internal rotation of shoulders.

Taking the wisdom from the Virabhradasana story, let go of the gripping of getting into the pose. Use yoga blocks and other yoga props. Journey towards the pose, make it your story, and not the story of yoga influencers you might like to emulate.

The final portion of the yoga sequence is based on Bhujangasana – Cobra pose. Shiva has a cobra wrapped around his neck, and some identify it as Patanjali. In this form, Patanjali overheard Shiva and Shakti discussing yoga, and from the content of which, he wrote the Yoga Sutras.

The serpent represents change (although in some traditions it may be seen as evil 🤷🏻‍♂️). The one thing we know for sure that is constant is change.

The cobra, when it has its hood open, represents focus and concentration, something any yogi aspires to cultivate, both on and off the mat. As we practise on the mat, let us connect with our body, which changes constantly.

Perhaps we may have been able to do incredible yoga backbends before, but we find it more difficult now. Let us incorporate the focus and concentration in our movement to honour our bodies as we practise.

The incredible #yogaprop modification for bhujangasana at the end of the video was introduced to me by my guru, Manoj Khaimal. Thank you, Manoj!