• Vashisthasana (Side Plank Pose): The Fine Balance of Life

    The one-arm balance of side plank pose is symbolic of Sage Vashistha’s teachings which encourage spiritual growth while fulfilling our day-to-day duties and responsibilities. The one-arm balance is the balance one needs to strive for while being part of the world and also being aware of self and the cosmos.

    Vashisthasana, also known as side plank pose, is a demanding posture that requires balance while strengthening all major muscle groups. To do the posture, balance on one arm with the rest of the body straight and the feet flexed sideways.

    This asana draws inspiration from the teachings of Sage Vashistha, who was a teacher to Lord Rama. Lord Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, was born to show humanity the path to righteousness. Born as a human, Lord Rama experienced the challenges of life like all other beings and traveled to far-off places as a young prince.

    A stage came to him when he was overwhelmed with the conflicts and dilemmas of life. He was disillusioned as a prince and deeply saddened by what he saw and experienced. His father, King Dashratha, understood his son’s state of mind and requested Sage Vashistha to become Lord Rama’s teacher and guide him back on his life path.

    The world had lost its luster for Lord Rama, the young prince, and he shared his disillusionment with the sage. Sage Vashistha reassured Rama that his state of sorrow and disillusionment would lead him to the path of spirituality if he would be kind to himself.

    In his discourse, Sage Vashistha introduced Lord Rama to the state of “Jeevanmukta,” a liberated soul living amidst life’s duties. Sage Vashistha elucidates on the state of “Jeevanmukta,” stating that a “Jeevanmukta” is an individual who lives in the world fulfilling their duties towards work and family. They use their talents to the best of their ability to cater to the world around them. They’re aware of the divinity that lies within. Therefore a “Jeevanmukta” is able to strike a balance by being in this world but not being of this world, and this is liberating for the individual.

    Sage Vashistha tells Lord Rama the parable of the crow and the coconut. The moment the crow lands on the coconut tree, a coconut drops off the tree. No one can know if the coconut fell off the tree because the crow alights on the tree or it was the right time for the ripe coconut to fall.

    Sage Vashistha thus says that we should only perform our actions and apply our thoughts in the most balanced way, knowing very well that the outcome is not for us to decide. As long as one is in touch with one’s inner self, which is beyond our actions and our thoughts, one will always be able to strike a balance in all aspects of life without being bothered about the outcomes.

    During several discourses between Lord Rama and Sage Vashistha, the great sage reiterates the truth that true balance of life means fulfilling our duties as a part of the social fabric in the most balanced way. A balanced way to do things is to not be anxious about the outcome. We need to perform all our actions with the intent that it will bring a positive change in someone’s life and lead our lives with such hope while remaining detached from the outcomes of our actions.

    The one-arm balance of side plank pose is symbolic of Sage Vashistha’s teachings which encourage spiritual growth while fulfilling our day-to-day duties and responsibilities. The one-arm balance is the balance one needs to strive for while being part of the world and also being aware of self and the cosmos.

    By Ankur Tunaak

    Ankur Tunaak has been an Ashtanga yoga practitioner for over a decade, studied with Shree M. Vishwanath who was one of the first students and nephew of Shree Pathabhi Jois. Also, an alumnus of Bihar School Of Yoga, one of four premier Yogic Studies Institutions in India. Ankur is a storyteller and photographer, currently teaching yoga in New Delhi, India.

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