__ Yoga and Mythology.. This Autumn season’s teaching focuses on Indian mythology. The Indian subcontinent is home to a rich, complex mythology woven together from numerous ideas, lineages, and the intermixing of cultures over the millennia and is recorded in the sacred texts and Sanskrit epics including the Vedas, and the Puranas. There are multitudes of gods, goddesses, demons and other fantastical creatures, characters, and realms that represent the full spectrum of consciousness on the relative (earthly) and the transcendental (other worldly) level. Many of these myths and symbols are little known to many in the West. They warrant our attention and study as they offer a vital lens for comprehending and experiencing our own lives. Joseph Campbell, the famous mythologist, outlined four major functions of myths: awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being, explaining the shape of the universe, validating and supporting the social order, and guiding the individual through the stages of life.
Yoga invites us to interact with myths in an “embodied” way, as we take up the themes and characters in the myths sensing and experiencing in a visceral way, the truth that the myths reveal about ourselves.
The characters and circumstances empower, prod, astonish and shock as they bestow upon us questions worthy of our contemplation. They pull up the hidden concealed aspects of ourselves, the stuff we don't always want to look at, and place them on the table so that we are forced to attend to them and integrate these aspects into our whole.
These myths touch deep chords as they reveal a collective consciousness that reflects our shared humanity as well as our shared divinity. The central yogic theme that abides in Indian mythology which is distinct from myths from the West is that all things are part of a Greater Whole. All beings and things, from the gods and demons, through humans, on to the smallest pebble, are part of the One. All of the myths and all of the characters in the myths point back to ourselves and to our relationship to the Great Mystery, that force that expresses itself as everything and as me.
“We're still drawn to stories that transform the world -- and ourselves.” - Laura Miller In the words of Joseph Campbell, "mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centers of life beyond the reach of reason and coercion.. . the first function of mythology is to reconcile waking consciousness to the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of this universe as it is."
And, besides all this, these myths entertain, delight and astonish. This season, we will explore several myths with deities including the Trimurti (trinity) of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; Ganesha, the elephant headed God, Remover of Obstacles; Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty and Good Fortune; Saraswati, Goddess of Knowledge and the Arts; Kali, the Divine Mother in her Ferocious form.
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.