First Class in Hanuman Series: Introduction to Hanuman
Hanuman is a half-monkey, half-human Hindu deity who is the central character of the Ramayana.
Hanuman mind symbolizes monkey mind which is restless and never still. Yet we can have control over it. We can’t control the world around us, but we can have control over our minds. With discipline we can tame the monkey 🙂
During our yoga practice we may think our mind is less unsettled than at other times of the day, but but with deeper reflection we see our minds are just as agitated. When we are practicing our yoga our minds are just as busy, be it with fear, boredom, making our grocery list, thinking back to an argument we had with a family member, wishing ahead for something to happen or wanting something to happen. How often do you practice your yoga wishing your body would behave differently? Bikram has been quoted as saying, “The human mind is like a drunken monkey, that has been stung by a bee.”
How would your yoga practice, for example, be different if instead of criticizing each movement of your body, you accept and thank each part of your body for behaving exactly as it is. Thank you body for what you are able to do for me in this moment, without wishing or hoping for it to be different?
In our book club on the membership site this month, we are reading, Bringing Home the Dharma by Jack Kornfield. He suggests the formula: RAIN as a way to tame our monkey minds reminding us that rain falls equally on all things and just as the rain outside can be nourishing the principle of RAIN can bring inner nourishment.
RAIN stands for recognition, acceptance, investigation and non-identification. Recognition is the first step of mindfulness, the awareness that we are in the “stuckness” of our monkey mind. Jack Kornfield calls this a “willingness to see what is so.” In Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy we would ask the question, “What’s happening now?” With recognition we are able to move from ignorance to freedom.
The second step of RAIN is acceptance, which allows us to open to the facts before us in a relaxed way. It does not mean being totally passive or a doormat, in fact it is a great act of courage to bring acceptance to a situation. It is the first step towards transformation.
The third step of RAIN is investigation. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this seeing deeply. The Buddhists say that when we get stuck it is because we have not looked deeply enough. We can explore our bodies for held tension, our emotions, our thoughts, judgements and beliefs about the situation and finally we can ask ourselves to explore the truth of the experience, in other words is this a story we have constructed? Is this story causing us suffering or happiness?
The final step of RAIN is non-identification. In other words we stop taking on the experience of mine or part of me. This allows us to release anxiety and inauthenticity.
Off the yoga mat, we can’t choose our life, but we can choose how we respond to it. Hanuman is a symbol of the perfect mind and he embodies the highest potential it can achieve. He is the true picture of sthitha prajna (one of steady intellect) and had perfect control of his mind.
Hanan – annihilation
man – mind
which means somebody who has overcome their ego.
Yoga is both a physical and mental technique to facilitation union with the divine. Body and mind are one. Today we will practice yoga with mindfulness with Hanuman as our inspiration as the symbol of the perfect mind.
Yoga Postures/Asanas: Reclined 1/2 happy baby/Ardha Ananda Balasana, Plank/Kumbhakasana, Quadruped arm leg, Opposite Elbow to knee, Adho Mukha Swanasana/Downdog split, Downdog knee to forehead, Ashva Sanchalanasana/High Lunge, High Lunge with Twist, Chair Pose/Utkaṭāsana, Parivṛtta Utkatasana/Revolved Chair Pose, Virabhadrasana Three with Garudasana arms/Warrior Three with Eagles Arms, Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide legged standing forward fold with twist, Puppy/Uttana Shishosana, Child’s Pose, Paschimottanasana/Seated Forward Fold
Props Needed: Yoga Block, Yoga Strap, Blanket, Yoga Mat