Monday, March 16, 2015

The Dance of Shiva: Dissolution

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Shiva is one of the most beloved deities in the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses. He is often portrayed standing in a commanding fashion with a three-pronged trident in his right hand. The three prongs of the trident are said to represent the three different aspects of Shiva's energy. The first aspect of Shiva is his power to create. Shiva's energy is said to vacillate between the powers of creation, sustenance and dissolution. In his creative aspect, Shiva embodies the energy and power of manifestation. In Shiva's sustaining aspect, we see the ability to maintain cohesiveness on the physical plane. 

In Shiva's ability to dissolve that which he has crated and sustained, we often see the embodiment of the fiery energy of destruction. The fiery aspect of Shiva that represents his ability to dissolve that which he has created can be quite useful, both on and off the Yoga mat. In terms of a Yoga class, a continuous flow of powerful standing postures, balancing poses and energizing back bending asanas are optimally balanced by a closing series of restorative seated forward folds and reclining postures at the end of class. 

Although this may seem obvious to most of us, when we are actually on the Yoga mat practicing, many of us find that we are resistant to actually slowing down and allowing ourselves to be enfolded in this energy of dissolution. In our fast-paced society today, accomplishing as many tasks as possible is highly regarded. On the other hand, taking the time to be mindfully aware of our surroundings, a beautiful flower, or the jubilant smile of a child playing in the park is not quite as valued. However, by taking the time to slow down and allow yourself to dissolve into the peaceful, clear light of awareness that you generated during your Yoga practice, will help you to be able to slow down during the extraordinary moments of life on a daily basis. 

If you are a Yoga teacher, by sequencing a Yoga class so that a class mirrors the three different aspects of Shiva's energy, you will be guiding your students through a balanced practice of Yoga postures, which will leave them both energized and calm. You will also be naturally offering your Yoga students a series of counter-poses to many of the more vigorous standing postures, arm balances and back bending poses, which are traditionally found in many vinyasa-based classes. If you are engaging in your own personal practice at home, by allowing yourself the time to truly rest and enter into a state of dissolution at the end of your Yoga practice, you will allow your mind and body the time to leave the mat truly restored and replenished.

As the temperatures begin to increase ever so slightly in the Northeastern United States, we are beginning to see an inkling of the spring that is just around the corner. As we begin to come out of the darkness of the winter months, the resurgence of new life can be felt just under foot. In many ways, the flow of the seasons mirrors the different aspect of Shiva. For instance, the coming radiant warmth of the summer season mirrors the sustaining qualities found in Shiva's ability to maintain his creation. 

When the fall leaves begin to drop and the temperatures cool during late autumn, the time of quiet introspection is offered to us again as the cycle of life and death, creation and dissolution, continues to flow in a seamless fashion. As a Yoga practitioner, by allowing yourself ample time on your mat to entering into a state of dissolution through the practice of restorative Yoga postures, such as Fire Log Pose, Extended Child's Pose and Shavasana, you will be honoring the flow of the seasons by embodying Shiva’s trifold nature and aligning yourself more intimately with the flow of the energy of creation itself. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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