I maintain only two magazine subscriptions: Hinduism Today & Yoga Journal. I’ve spoke about HT before and how much I adore it. Yoga Journal is also noteworthy. Although, superficially, it used to have a much more Eastern/Hindu appearance, it still presents content along similar lines. The September 2013 issue brought something to mind that I wanted to share.

The magazine offers an OM page. This used to be a page where a mantra was displayed but they’ve changed it to usually be more of an inspirational quote. This month’s quote comes from Leslie Kaminoff, a yoga educator and co-founder of the Breathing Project in New York City.

“The greatest benefit we get from yoga comes in the simplest thing we learn: how to connect breath and movement.”

I love this and find in it some deep truth.

The rest of the issue features articles dealing with adaptive yoga, aerial yoga for children, yoga in the workplace, how to handle pesky thought processes during meditation, energizing asana sequences for early day routine, 21 ways yoga can improve one’s health, and yoga for older fols who might be facing osteo issues.

What comes to mind, as a Shaivite, is Shiva’s dance. Often, whenever Tandava is mentioned, people who don’t well grasp the meaning of Shiva or His dance, make an automatic association to destruction. The Dance of Destruction. Many times people specifically avoid worshipping Shiva (and Kali) because of their fierce implications. This is unreasonable and cowardly, though.

Brahma creates the material world. Vishnu holds it together for as long as is needed. And while Shiva is responsible for the recycling inherent everywhere in the cosmos, he’s also the animating force – the movement and source of movement at the atomic and subatomic level. Even scientists recognize this and as testament, Shiva Nataraj stands at the grounds of Cern.

Shiva’s dance never destroys. Not really. Not anything that’s real. This issue of YJ reminded me of Shiva’s dance within our individual lives and also within our bodies. For most people, with typical human attachments, it’s important to maintain. We often dread change – often because we feel we have no say in it. All of that is problematic and egoic thinking.

Shiva’s wild dance starts from the moment of creation and continues even through mahapralaya and the recycling of every known thing. Yoga is something the world will embrace increasingly. It’s the only tool I’ve encountered, ever, that reaps the results adherents hope for, as well as many unexpected ones.

Connecting our breath and movement is beautiful. In fact, even separately they are amazing. Becoming aware of the breath will lead one to Ganesha. Becoming aware of our movement is also immensely beneficial from a meditative persepctive. Joining the two is priceless and will bring an awareness of the Nataraja’s tandava that can only result in peace that exceeds all understanding.

I think this is what’s feared. Supreme, ego-destroying, peace.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


One response to “Shivayoga

  1. Yes, peace I think is even more understood and feared than change. When’s the last time the world has been without a war going on for one thing? But that is on a large scale. Peace within is misunderstood and you can hear it even in the way people in the west sometimes talk about “Heaven” how there will be “nothing to do there” and “won’t it get boring?” Well they misunderstand pure liberation then, as “Boredom” certainly would not exist. But I digress.

    I have, as you know, been that person who avoided Shiva/Kali but thankfully understand them incrementally more now (no small thanks to this blog).

    Change and maintenance are forever ongoing, overlapping one another. Which is why Harihara (Shankaranarayana) is such an immensely important aspect of Brahman for devotees to be able to internalize and meditate upon throughout the day.


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