Yoga with Melissa 219 Hanuman Series: Hanuman teaches us to Listen to our own Bodies an Intermediate Class
This story demonstrates Hanuman as the master diplomat, go between, mediator and spokesperson.
We will begin our story with Rama trusting Hanuman to find his beloved wife Sita who had been captured by Ravana. At this time, they had no idea where Sita was. Rama begins by placing all his trust in Hanuman.
Rama started by describing the details of Sita’s feet, right down to her toenails. He then gave Hanuman a ring so that Sita would know Hanuman was a messenger and not a spy. He went on to describe how Sita walked and spoke and shared with Hanuman anecdotes that only Sita and Rama would know, so that Sita would be sure that Hanuman was Rama’s messenger. It is said that Hanuman listened respectfully to every word that Rama spoke, knowing that when he saw Sita, he would recognize her. He bowed to Rama and departed to search for her.
Let’s pause and look at how this story relates to our own lives. In past episodes I have explained how I believe that Hanuman is symbolic of our ego self and Rama of our Higher Self. Even in this short excerpt of the story, you see that our ego bows to our higher self. If we listen deeply to our Higher Self we will know where to go and recognize what to do.
Our body is a powerful messenger that is always speaking to us. When we listen respectfully to our bodies, when we honour our bodies, we can follow its guidance. Your body is one of the most powerful messengers that continually offers you information. You can be like Hanuman and listen respectfully to every word your body speaks.
As our story continues, Hanuman heads off with his monkey army and bears. They travel for a month and are exhausted and hungry. Hanuman with his keen awareness notices two birds coming out of a cave with water dripping from their wings. He told the monkeys that their must be water and food inside the cave. Inside the cave they came to a grove of trees and a woman ascetic sitting under a tree that they thought must be Sita. Hanuman observed her closely and saw that she was not Sita but asked her to tell them the story of the beautiful cave.
Here we will pause again to take note of Hanuman’s skills as a master go between. First he uses his keen skills of observation and awareness to notice that this is not Sita, secondly he asks the woman to tell him more. We can use these skills too as we tune into our bodies. Awareness by tuning into our bodies and asking ourselves, what is happening now? We can notice the miracle of our body and its incredibly capacity for sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, healing, balance, digestion, detoxification. Once we have tuned in we can ask our bodies to tell us more about their beautiful stories.
The woman who was named Swayamprabha was protecting the cave which belonged to, the apsara (celestial maiden) Hema. Hema’s daughter had married Ravana. Swayamprabha lavished them with food, drinks and honey until they were satiated. She was very lonely so she tried to get them to stay and marry her. All the monkeys and even Jambhavan were under her spell. Only Hanuman remembered why they were there and sternly refused insisting that he would leave with, or without his companions.
Swayamprabha saw his determination and took pity on Hanuman and even though it was a magic cave and no one who entered came out alive, she took pity on them and transported them out of the cave.
As we reflect on this part of the story we see how important it is to not be controlled by our senses and to keep our intention/sankalpa at the forefront of our mind. Hanuman’s companions were completely absorbed by their senses and forgot their intention. So too when listening to our bodies it is easy to become averted by fulfilling our sense organs through good food, sights, sounds that might not be for our greatest and highest good. When we remember to listen, truly listen to the needs of our bodies, it can be helpful to withdraw our sense and feed our body at a deeper cellular, organ and energetic level.
Finally in the story, a huge vulture saw all the monkeys standing in a row outside of the cave. He congratulated himself on finding his next meal lined up in such neat and tidy rows. This bird named Sampati had no wings and began to hop towards the monkeys. The monkeys couldn’t believe their misfortune, first they had nearly starved to death, next they had been trapped in a cave and nearly not escaped, and now they were going to be eaten alive!
One of the monkeys Angada started wailing, “This bird looks like Yama, the God of death himself. Oh what is going to happen to us? It is said that all birds love Rama. Even Jataya gave up his life for Rama. Why should this bird kill us and stop us from helping Rama?”
As it turns out Sampati was Jataya’s brother and when he heard Jataya’s name he wanted to know how his brother had saved Rama. As luck would have it, that was enough for Sampati to help them. Sampati shared everything he knew about how he had seen all the details of Sita’s kidnapping and was able to send them on their way. In this part of the story again, it was because the monkeys listened to Sampati’s story in a loving and kind way that they were able to forge a trusting relationship. When we listen to our bodies with loving kindness we too create a trusting relationship with our body.
Props Needed: Yoga Blanket, Yoga Block, Yoga Strap
Yoga Asanas/Postures: Tuning into Your Body, Dead Bug Circle with Ankle and Wrist circles, Keyhole Stretch, Bridge/setu bandhasana, Foot Series, Rock the Baby, Cat Pose/Marjaryasana, Downward Facing Dog/Adho Mukha Śvānāsana, Eagle/Garuḍāsana, Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold, Salamba bhujangasana/Sphynx, Child’s Pose/Balasana, Cow’s Face/Gomukhāsana, 1/2 cow’s face forward fold, Savasana