Pose of the Week: Paryankasana

This week’s pose is Paryankasana, Paryanka = bed, couch or sofa and Asana = Pose/Posture. 

Image: BKS Iyengar in Paryankasana in Light on Yoga (1966)

Looking at the photo of Mr Iyengar in Paryankasana I am immediately struck by the gargantuan size of his chest. You’ve heard the repeated instruction: ‘Open your chest’, here the chest is really open. It’s expanded from the inside and from the outside.

Secondly, there is an ease; an apparent effortless, in the asana he is in. He is really IN the asana. If you have ever attempted this asana, you’ll have found that there’s a lot of effort involved and not much of the shape or the experience resembles a bed/sofa (except maybe you wish you were lying on one…).

There is an energy that circulates throughout the asana as a whole. It permeates the whole of his being. You can see it. The word is Prana. Prana is generally applied to the act of the breathing. But it is something more mysterious and more universal. It is the life energy and the way energy circulates, vibrates, and forges new pathways. In the human form, prana is most perceptible as the breath.

Michael Stone describes it well in The Inner Tradition of Yoga (2008):

“When we go even farther into the breath itself, we see that it is made up of an infinite number of qualities, called vayuus, or ‘winds’ of the breath… The winds are like currents of energy, and when we tune in to the various currents, we see they are made up of perception, thought, nervous system, cognition, and all activities of mind and body. Yoga practitioners, when sensitive to the internal currents of the body, use these currents to gather information about the functioning of the mind and body” (p.123).

It brings us to a point of immediacy, where we are with our mind and our body. Just as BKS Iyengar is, in Paryankasana. In the present, a place between the past and the future, unfolding with the breath.

See you on the mat :)

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