Warrior poses are being practiced a lot in Yoga classes. So, what is the essence of these Warrior postures? We can understand these āsanas from a Mahābhārata story:
A group of warriors are studying under their mentor Droṇa. One day, Droṇa wants to know if they grasp the art of concentration. Droṇa sets up a small wooden bird in a distant tree and asks his students to strike the eye of the wooden bird with their arrow.
Before the warriors take action, Droṇa asks his students what they see.
“I see the wooden bird, the leaves beside the bird, the branch the bird is sitting on, the tree. I can see grass under the tree, other trees around, the sky, the clouds…”
One by one, students give a similar answer. They name off everything. Droṇa asks them to put down their bows and even does not allow them to try as he knows that they won’t hit the eye of the bird.
At last Droṇa reaches Arjuna. “What do you see?”
“The eye of the wooden bird” Arjuna answers clearly.
“Is this the only thing you can see? Are you sure? There are lots of things around. Your eyesight must have some problems.” Droṇa is testing Arjuna.
“The eye of the wooden bird, this is the only thing I see.” Arjuna answers firmly.
Droṇa is pleased with this response and orders Arjuna to shoot. Arjuna holds his bow steady, gazing at the target and shoots the arrow which goes straight forward and hits the wooden bird’s eye.
Self-inquiry from the story: The ability to see can be an obstacle to fulfilling a task. The ability to perform a difficult āsana can lead us in the wrong direction of Yoga practice. Is Yoga for the purpose to get power or Self-realization?
Q: Why don’t I like meditation? When I do meditation, I can not be calm and peaceful. I see my mind like a monkey, jumping around from one thing to another. All in my mind is just the stuff I want to get rid of. Is meditation supposed to let me calm down and relax? Why can’t I sit quietly? Why do I feel tired instead?
A: There are 2 points to consider:
Yoga means connect, link; Nidrā means sleep. Yoga Nidrā helps us to relax. It is used for relaxation, which helps to reduce stress and decrease levels of anxiety. Also, allows the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to work, which helps to improve digestive function. Śavāsana (Corpse Pose) is the best āsana to experience Yoga Nidrā.
Yoga Nidrā also gives an opportunity to experience what might happen when we die. With the body like a corpse on the floor without any movement, the mind and intelligence are not working, and if we are being guided to a wonderful place, then we can experience peace and calm. So, it is very important for the one who guides the Yoga Nidrā to create a comfortable space.
Most of us experience peace and calm in Yoga Nidrā. This tells us death is not as terrible as we think. We could have a peaceful death like Yoga Nidrā as long as we allow the body to be still, and allow us to be guided.
After Yoga Nidrā, allow the Self to be guided to come back and wake up. Extend the whole body in Taḍāka mudrā (Tank Mudra) and turn to one side into Garbhāsana (Foetus Pose) before moving to seated position. Then we can be rejuvenated and enjoy life again.
Like a river merges with the ocean; the mind merges with the soul. There is no difference between the mind and soul. Or we can say the two become one. As peace and calm are experienced; no more worry, and no more stress. This is good! A lot of people believe that this is the end of Self-realization, but it is only the end of the journey of the river. A peaceful death is only the end of the journey of the physical living body. Another journey is awaiting; the ocean, which is the journey after death. If we use Yoga Nidrā to release stress and anxiety only, it is actually a relaxation. Relaxation can rescue us from the fear of death. But we are still suffering from the repetition of birth, disease, old age and death. Yoga Nidrā is a tool. Use the tool properly, and it will lead us to ultimate release and relaxation. The real purpose of Yoga Nidrā is to understand the Self; to find the way to revive the relationship between the body and soul. It is a type of deep meditation.