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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Friday, November 22, 2013

Headstand (Sirshasan) - Compassion and fearlessness

There was a woman in her fifties and another good friend of her joining an 8 days Intensive yoga retreat with us recently.

In the intensive yoga retreat, we have strength and flexibility workshops.

The objective of this strength and flexibility workshop is not about achieving physical fitness on stamina, strength and flexibility through the yoga asana practice, although as we perform yoga asana practice on a regular basis, physical stamina, strength and flexibility will be improving naturally.

It's about through the yoga asana practice, we learn to let go of egoism and attachments towards the qualities of names and forms, letting go of the identification with the body and mind, letting go of judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion, while developing patience, perseverance, will-power, determination, forbearance, tolerance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, and accommodation, to realize the greatest strength and flexibility that is beyond the physical conditions and abilities, which is unconditional peace and love, or selflessness and compassion, which also manifest as fearlessness. We also learn to be aware of the impermanence of the qualities of names and forms, and allow the reality of everything in the present moment now to be what it is.

She never came up into headstand before, even though she has been attending yoga classes regularly, and practicing meditation for quite a long time. She said she would like to be able to learn how to perform headstand in this yoga retreat.

In the beginning, like many others, she was anxious and had fear towards coming up into headstand. There is fear of falling, fear of injuries and pain, or fear of the unknown possibilities. We will certainly gain some physical benefits from coming into headstand against a wall, but it doesn't allow us to deal with the fear in us that is related to egoism and attachment. Yoga practice is not so much about gaining the physical benefits. The physical benefits are just a side effect or by-product of the yoga asana practice, it is not the main objective of our yoga practice.

It is not important whether we can physically perform headstand or not, as to realize unconditional peace and love is nothing to do with whether we can perform headstand or not. But, it is about confronting the fear that stops us from coming into headstand, and to let go of that fear, that matter most in our yoga practice. If we are able to let go of fear, and be free from judgment, comparison and expectation, letting go of any imaginations, anticipations and speculations, just do our best while trying to come into the headstand, then it really doesn’t matter whether we can come into headstand or not, or can stay in the headstand for a long time or not. It’s really not important.

If fear exists, we cannot be truly compassionate even if we want to be compassionate. As fear generates discrimination and self-protection that limits us to love all as they are, without discrimination. If we are truly compassionate, there is no fear, no discrimination, no gain, no loss, no success, no failure, no praise, no condemn.

Then after I explained and demonstrated on how to come into headstand, she did her second attempt to come into the headstand (The first attempt was the day before, where she couldn't come into headstand due to incorrect position that derived from tension and tightness manifested from fear and anxiety). Broken her previous thinking and belief that she might not be able to come into headstand, she came up into headstand calmly and was able to hold the position steadily for a few moments.

After she came down from headstand and rested, she told us that Mother Teresa & Martin Luther King came into her mind when she was coming up into the headstand. As these two great beings were the embodiment of peace and unconditional love, or selflessness and compassion, or fearlessness. Peace and compassion manifested in her as she was thinking about these two people, and the fear that stops her from performing headstand vanished within those few moments of peace and love, which enabled her to come into the headstand calmly and steadily.

Physical strength and flexibility doesn't guarantee us peace and compassion, but the real strength and flexibility, that allows us to be able to adapt, adjust and accommodate any difficult or unpleasant conditions or situations in life, that connect us with the unconditional love and peace, that allows us to be free from fear, worry, anger, hatred, jealousy, disappointment, dissatisfaction, feelings of hurts, discrimination, judgment, and expectation, and thus allows us to be able to love and accept all and everyone as they are, to be able to perform all our actions, duties and responsibilities, and to give without discrimination and expectation, without attachment towards the actions and the fruit of actions, but allowing the fruit of actions to be what it is.

It really doesn't matter if we cannot come into certain yoga poses due to physical limitations. It's about letting go of the ego and the attachment and identification with the qualities of names and forms while performing the yoga asana practice.

Om shanti.

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Know thyself. There is no existence of 'I'. Everything is impermanent. Be free, be peaceful, be happy.

Om shanti

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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