I suspect many readers of this blog have been doing yoga for years. For me, it’s all new. And packed full of discoveries and surprises. It started about six months ago during a period when the ‘Littlebang’ Bangkok Sangha had a regular Monday night meditation session. Someone was offering a pre-sit yoga class and I thought I’d go along.
The weekly meditation sessions came to an end sadly (strange, there are stacks of great Dharma talks all the time in Bangkok, but there’s no regular Thai-Buddhist English-language meditation group), but the yoga continued. The teacher, I soon learnt, is amazing. Her name is Nat, she’s Japanese and she speaks great English and Thai.
I have a bad back, tending (after being involved in a collision with a car years ago and decades of neglect) to painful muscle spasm and having very little flexibility. Nat has helped me, in just the few months I’ve been studying with her, to understand my back a little better and work on strenghtening and lengthening it.
She has been practicing and teaching yoga for years and is a breast cancer survivor, and she sometimes talks about how yoga helped in her recovery, physically, mentally and spiritually. And she smiles. She really smiles. And gets her students all smiling too. “Lift”, she says, “higher, higher, and smile”, and we can’t help but grin!
Last month she helped me with something called the tree pose (my apologies to all you yoga practitioners out there, but this is all new to me) in which you stand on one leg and lift your arms above your head! I practiced for a week and then tried again in class. Of course, I wobbled all over the place – even despite using a wall.
“Don’t forget to breathe”, Nat said. “Breathing will bring you stability and balance.” I tried again. It did. Later Nat showed me how to place my feet and said that as well as breathing I had to grow deep roots, that energy and connection comes from those roots. The connection to the Dharma here is obvious to most no doubt, but for me it was a revelation!
Because the tree exists, you can know the root; because the fruit exists, you can know the seed. Likewise, even though the body is only a temporary, karmic combination of the four elements, through it you can know the fundamental place, Hanmaum Juingong, which is the source of all life and all phenomena.
– Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim