All of us have complaints. We complain because the wind blows too strongly, the food does not taste to our liking, our husbands don’t love us or our children are being difficult. And so we go on from one complaint to another.
What we forgot in all this turmoil is that we have lost control of ourselves. Something seems to be driving us onto ever greater discontent, till we reach a point of complete exhaustion. This is where the training and discipline of yoga can save the day. It is interesting to observe rather than be swallowed up by these states of turmoil and discontent.
We stand aside and watch until calm once more returns to the body, mind and emotions.
This is the wisdom of yoga – learning to flow with the stream of life.
Problems often arise because we refuse to bend, unwind, or just let matters take their course.
Over the years I have come across and taught such folk. They cling tenaciously to their problems, allowing the negative effects to take them over completely.
Into a yoga class they come, problems and all, fixed and rigid. Their attitude to me is “please, dear teacher, leave them with me. They’re on my back, but don’t attempt to take them off. My hang-ups are close to me, I want them for ever. All you must do, dear teacher, is to feed them. Attention, praise is all I’m here for!”
I am tempted to tell them of an old Chinese proverb: “One cries for new shoes, yet around the corner is a man without feet”.
The Swan is a series of asanas which flow into each other. There are no jerky movements. They are done slowly and combine deep breathing with them.
I have chosen The Swan to illustrate how to flex your body and, I hope, your mind as well. Go with the flow.
Sit in a kneeling pose. Your arms are slightly bent. Hands rest lightly on your thighs. Breathe deeply a few times.
Inhale and raise your arms slowly in a wide circle outwards and upwards until they are parallel above your head, your palms facing upwards. Stretch back slightly and roll your head back to look at the ceiling.
Exhale and stretch forward as far as possible until your hands touch the floor in front of you. Whilst doing this, try to keep your back straight. Don’t lift your buttocks from your heels. Stretch your arms and back while allowing your head to rest on the floor. Your hands should be parallel to each other.
In this step your hands must not slide forward but remain still. Inhale and, keeping your hands firmly in position, lift your buttocks off your heels till the upper part of your body are at right angles with the floor and forms a plank. Push out your chest between your straight arms. Roll your head back.
Keep your hands in the same position, drop your knees onto the floor; exhale and roll your buttocks back on your heels. Allow your head to rest on the floor.
Inhale; uncurl your body until your back is straight. Allow your hands to slide back through the movement until they hang at your hips. Let your head hang to. Exhale.
Inhale; raise your arms slowly in a wide circle outwards and upwards until they are parallel above your head; your palms facing upwards. Stretch your back slightly and roll your head back.
Exhale; bring forward and rest your hands lightly on your thighs. Roll your head forward to an erect position. Breathe deeply a few times.
Repeat this series of movements about 6 times to begin with and build up to 12.