Bharadvarasana is a lovely seated twist, although don’t be surprised if you haven’t done it in a class that often. I haven’t seen it taught often either. Like all twists it’s great for nourishing the curves in the spine, believed to aid digestion and relieve stress.
It’s nice to hear the Sanskrit names of postures in a Yoga class, but it’s even nicer to know their origins. Let’s get inspired by the story of Bharadvja, after whom the pose Bharadvarasana was dedicated.
Bharadvaja was a student who dedicated himself to the study of the Vedas, ancient spiritual texts. He made it his goal to master the Vedas. He spent many lifetimes reading, writing and memorising these texts, in the hope that this would bring him closer to a higher power.
He was known as a wise sage, but also as a recluse; unsurprisingly no one saw him as he was so focused on becoming an expert. When his third lifetime came to an end, he was visited by Shiva. Bharadvja fully expected to be liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth because of the dedication he’d shown to studying. But Shiva was there to show Bharadvja had in fact, learned nothing at all.
“You live alone, with no joy and you’ve shared your vast knowledge with no one.”
So, ears ringing with those home truths, Bharadvja spent his fourth and subsequent lifetimes teaching, sharing and bringing to life what he’d learned. He then became known for his compassion and knowledge.
This story teaches us to share what we find enjoyable, don’t be so focused on a goal that you miss the point. ‘That’s a nice story Rosie, but how is this helpful?’ I hear you say. Let me show you how we can apply this teaching to your yoga practice;
- Try softening your focus on mastering that one yoga pose (heels down in Down Dog, or headstand) instead, look for lessons you can learn along the way;
- As a beginner, try to see more experienced yogis as a version of Bharadvja; they’re showing you a path to postures.
- As a more experienced yogi, why not dedicate your practice to newer students, help them find their way by being a compassionate practitioner –that means not wrestling yourself into a shape!
- If you feel good after a yoga practice, or if something a teacher said resonated with you, share it, live it, somehow show it to others, don’t be a recluse with this knowledge.
If we take the wisdom of this story of Bharadvja to heart, we know we must live fully, find our passion and share it with others.