2 months ago
"Yoga recommends two possible ways for achieving the qualitie of sukha, comfort and lightness, and sthira, steady alertness. The first is to locate knots and resisances in the body and release them. This happens only gradually . . . . The means we use to release blocks and resistances must not adversely affect the body. We must proceed carefully. If we force the body we will experience pain or other unpleasant feelings and the problems will, in the long run, get worse instead of better. The body can only gradually accept an asana. It is by proceeding gently that we will feel light and be able to breathe easily in the position and therefore really benefit from it.
"The second possible means for realizing the concept of sthirasukha consists of visualizing the perfect posture. For this we use the image of the cobra Ananta, the king of the serpents, carrying the whole universe on his head while providing a bed for the Lord Vishnu on his coiled body. Ananta must be completely relaxed in order to make a soft bed for the lord. This is the idea of sukha. Yet the snake cannot be feeble and weak; it must be stong and steady in order to support the universe. That is the idea of sthira. Together these qualities give us the image and the feeling of a perfect asana."
"Matsyendra appears to have been an actual historical person, not just a figure of myth. Born in Bengal around the 10th century c.e., he is venerated by Buddhists in Nepal as an incarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara. As with most Indian myths, there are many versions of the story of Matsyendra's metamorphosis into a realized adept—and all of them illustrate the radical transformation that yoga makes possible.
"In one popular version, the infant Matsyendra is thrown into the ocean because his birth has occurred under inauspicious planets. Swallowed by a giant fish, he overhears Shiva teaching the mysteries of yoga to his consort Parvati in their secret lair at the bottom of the ocean. Matsyendra is spellbound. After spending 12 years in the fish's belly, all the while exploring yoga's esoteric practices, he emerges as an enlightened master."
"In a curious way, Matsyendra is doubly connected, by this name [although he does not seem to explain how], to the lower half of the yogic body, the place of the sleeping kundalini. However, just as the kundalini sleeps at a turning point in the play of divine manifestation and resorption, so too, the symbol system constructed around Matsyendra's name is an ambivalent one. An extensive body of medieval sources connect Matsyndra to his doctrine of the fish belly [again . . . what?] through a mythic gloss of this name. Matsyendranatha means "He Whose Lord is the Lord of Fishes". . ., and his connection with fish is explained through a myth in which the Goddess . . . has asked Siva to teach her the most secret of all esoteric knowledge, things he has never told her before. This Siva agrees to do, but he has barely launched into what will turn out to be the essence of the Hindu tantric teachings than does the Goddess fall asleep. Siva's words do not, however, go unheeded. Matsyendra, who has been swallowed by a fish (whence his name in these sources), draws up to the shoreline and overhears everything."
"No sooner did this drop of sweat fall to Earth than it became a fiery being of unlimited valor who, after blazing his way through the earth and through all the underworlds, burnt the seven seas. This being, Virabhadra ('the Auspicious Hero') looked like a flaming fire, having many heads and many eyes, and tens of thousands of arms and legs. The embodiment of concentrated might, Virabhadra stood before his father with folded hands, saying, 'Command me!'"