Dreaming of Hanuman

My dreams are usually pretty vivid.  When I wake up, I can normally recount the dream, complete with sensory details and emotions.  I’m a fairly lucid dreamer as well; I know when I’m dreaming, I can sometimes change the course of the dream with a bit of effort, and I can wake myself up if things aren’t going well (like if some crazy beast monster is chasing me).

However, last night’s dream was neither vivid nor lucid.  I can only remember one thing, and I was fully convinced that I was not dreaming.  This was my dream: I was able to achieve full Hanumanasana on both sides, no sweat. 

Photo courtesy Yoga Journal

This is crazy talk for a couple of reasons. First, as a triathlete, I am constantly at battle with my hips, which are more often than not tighter than the hips of an 80 year old woman. It takes serious coaxing and patience to get my hips to cooperate during yoga. However, yoga has been the only thing capable of keep my hips healthy, and aside from a tight IT band every now and then, I can attribute yoga to keeping me relatively injury free. 

Secondly, in my dream, I was fully convinced that my ability to do Hanumanasana was real, that I had been doing it for years, and that it was the easiest pose in the entire world.  Au contraire.  I have never been able to get anywhere close to full Hanumanasana.  In fact, I can’t remember a time in my life where I was even relatively flexible.  I was kicked out of gymnastics as a kid for being too tall and too rigid. 

So, if physically achieving Hanumanasana is nothing but a goal right now, why was my dream mind so convinced that I’m capable of it?  Not to get all psychoanalytical on you, but what is the message of this dream?

I have a couple of theories.  First, Hanumanasana requires intense openness, and a willingness to put aside the impossible.  To echo the story of Hanuman, it is literally a leap of faith.  Perhaps it is time to reestablish a beginner’s mind, to look past what I think is possible and attempt to achieve things I’ve never even considered before.  Maybe the dream is a subtle message to myself to try a little openness. 

Secondly, Hanuman is representative of devotion, as his unwavering devotion to Rama gave him the power to do great things in the name of his beloved.  Maybe it’s time to reassess my loyalties, to honor those who deserve it and fix my attention on loved ones who need my help. 

I suppose if I take the dream literally, it could be telling me to work on my bendiness and make Hanumanasana a featured part of my daily practice.  While this could be a good thing (my hips could use the work for sure), I’m leaning towards a more symbolic interpretation.  I’ve always been more of a Ganesha girl myself, but there’s plenty to learn from Hanuman.

Experimenting with inversions

Okay, we’ve all seen this video at this point, right?

I must admit, that video is the reason I decided to kickstart my inversions practice.  Don’t judge me too harshly.  Yes, it’s sexy and she’s doing yoga in lacy underwear, but there’s also a great deal of beauty and control going on there.  I don’t need to have the lacy underwear, but I would like to harness that kind of control. 

Fueled with a new interest in inversions, I decided to sign up for a workshop that focused on handstand and headstands, with an arm balance or two thrown in for good measure.  The workshop was at a studio I’d heard good things about, but had never visited before.  The space itself was amazing: two large yoga rooms, a meditation center, a massage room, and even a raw/juice bar for refueling after practice.  It’s an amazing yoga setting, and I’m looking forward to getting back there soon.

But back to the inversions.

The workshop completely rocked my world.  There was a large focus on the mula bandha, the “root lock” that is the base of core strength.  I don’t know a lot about the bandhas yet, but I know I was able to achieve modified versions of Tittibhasana and Tolasana where I’d never been able to before.  The mula bandha is deep core strength that goes far beyond six-pack abs, and is vitally important to inversions. 

My favorite inversion right now (since it’s the one I can do without using a wall for support) is Sirsasana II, or Tripod Headstand.  I love this pose.  I get all the paradigm shifting benefits of inversions without having to worry too much about toppling over.  I can also experiment with full headstands while simultaneously having a safe “base” to return to when things get wobbly.  Here’s a link to a pretty good tutorial for Sirsasana II, although I would highly recommend trying to first with an experienced instructor. 

I’m hoping that by the next time I write about inversions, I’ll be rocking a full headstand and a solid mula bandha.

Coming back

A whole lot can happen in the matter of a couple of months.Yogically, I feel I’ve made some real progress.  I’ve established a solid home routine that I actually make time for, which is helping me out in all other aspects of life.  My work towards full lotus is…slow.  However, it’s not stagnant.  I can do half lotus on both sides in relative comfort now, but the whole shebang still eludes me.  I’m confidant I’ll get there someday soon.  I’ve taken an inversions workshop, and I’m loving headstands more than a normal person should.  New perspectives, and all.  I’ve learned more about chakras and mantras, and I’ve incorporated them into my practice.  All in all, yoga has been very good to me.

There’s always a reason why bloggers take a break from blogging, and for me, it had nothing to do with a waning passion for the topic of my blog.  In fact, if anything else, yoga has become more instrumental to my daily life.  Maybe I had to take a break because so much of what I was experiencing was, well, not yogic.  There was a lot of pain, a lot of adversity, a lot of crap.  And while I know these moments of doubt and hardship are the perfect moments for practice, my yoga just wasn’t string enough to deal with it all.  So I retreated.  Hastily.

But in the past few months, my practice has strengthened and so have I.  I’m ready to be back.  I’m ready to try to add something to my little corner of the blogosphere, and maybe help people find their own healing practice.  I’m done retreating.  It’s good to be back.