“It’s not what’s you have on the outside that glitters in the light, its what you have on the inside that shines in the dark.”
The past weekend I had a lunch date with one of my favourite people. While we were talking about the book I’m writing I made a comment about being unsure of being a model for the asana pictures. When she asked me why I gave all these excuses as to why it as a good idea to have some different people, dont get me wrong many of these are great reasons and still in my mind, but being the amazing
person she is my friend saw straight through it and I eventually admitted I was nervous about my body being the focus. I showed her an example of another book where most of the women in there were extremely fit, thin, amazing yogis and I said I don’t look like that. I’m never going to look like that. She looked at me like I was crazy and said its not the outside that matter but what’s on the inside, besides she said have you seen your pictures they look amazing!!!! Of course she was right I’m constantly teaching others about accepting and owning who they are and here I was scared of doing that lol! I realised I do have a fear of people judging me based on my outsides and while this doesn’t really bother me, every now and then a little of the old self doubt and fear creep in. The reality is that in this day image is everything. There is so much focus on the external package sometimes you’ll never get any further. There’s been a lot of discussion in the yoga world about the image that is being portrayed in yoga magazines and ads. Whilst there’s a gradual shift I realised that I’m still fearful that someone will look at me and write me off based on how I look. It made me think about the story of Astavakra.
Astavakrasana is one of my favourite arm balances. It looks quite difficult but it was actually one of the first arm balances I started to learn and I find it’s one of the easiest.
I recently came across this explanation from yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala “What the pose is trying to tell us is that even when things seem extremely convoluted, if you jsut know how to arrange them, your situation is not as arduous as it looks. This asana requires more knowledge than effort. It is not a fighting pose; the primary feeling in it is a sense of freedom.”
The pose is named after the sage Astavakra teaches us that external appearances are not important it’s what on the inside that matters.
Whilst still in his mothers womb Astavakra was listening to his father recite verses from the Rig Veda. When he corrected his father on his mis-pronunciation his father became enraged and cursed Astavakra causing his body to bend in 8 places.
Whan Astavakra was just a baby, filled with guilt, his father travelled to King Janaka court in the hopes of taking part in some philosophical discussions and making some money to provide for his family. Sadly he lost the debate and was
When he was older Astavakra travelled to King Janaka’s court to hear the philosophical discussions. However when he arrived to take part in the debate the court of scholars upon seeing Astavakra started to laugh at the sight of him. Astavakra was very upset and when King Janaka questioned him Astavakra expressed his sadness that he had come so far despite his disability only to be disappointed. He asked King Janaka
‘Are these the great sages, who were going to fight a debate with me? King Janaka, I thought your court was filled with great pundits, I can see only cobblers here…Is this not your court? Or did I come to the wrong place?..’
The King was very quiet and then asked ‘What do you mean there are cobblers here? These are the greatest pundits in the land…Why are you calling them cobblers?’
Astavakra replied: ‘Just like a cobbler who look at the skin of a material and decide whether it can be made into a shoe or not. Your people merely see the surface and base their judgements solely on this. They do not see the atma the soul. This is the occupation of the cobbler always saying, this skin is good, this skin is rough.’
He said coming was a waste of time. King Janaka and the court stared and King Janaka was ashamed and then bowed down to Astavakra who became his spiritual teacher.
The story of Astavakra show our tendency to judge a book by it cover, how so often often identify with physical appearance rather than than whats underneath. It shows us that is what lies in the heart that is most important. It reminds us that we can achieve anything we set our heart and minds to. That the difficulties we face are not obstacles merely opportunities for growth.