Pose of the Week: Vrschikasana

Saturday, 23 November 2019 11:03
This week’s pose is Vrschikasana. Vrschika means a scorpion. Asana means pose or posture. So it’s Scorpion Pose. “In order to sting its victim the scorpion arches its tail above its back and then strikes beyond its head. This posture resembles that of a striking scorpion, hence the name.”  (BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga, Thorsons Edition 2001 p.319)
BKS Iyengar in Vrishikasana in Light on Yoga (1966)
I will be quoting parts of an interview with BKS Iyengar from December 1991. The title of this interview is ‘The Beauty of Backbends’.
What is it about backbends that makes them ‘beautiful’?  You can’t really say that about standing poses, even though you may watch someone doing, say, Virabhadrasana 2, and they’re doing it very well, but it’s not beautiful in the same way as this week’s pose, Vrishikasana.
Where does this beauty come from?
The physical strength and time in practice is acutely apparent. But there is another quality. Difficult to articulate (but let’s try ;)). Guruji talks of the subconscious mind being awakened in backbends:
“It’s not a question of the physical body’s stamina. The subconscious mind is made to be more conscious in backbends. In other poses your subconscious mind will be sleeping. Or unoccupied. The conscious brain alone works. Only in backbends the unconscious or the subconscious mind works. That’s the beauty of it.” (BKS Iyengar)
It takes time, a long time, in practice, to delve deeper into yourself. You go beneath the surface. That’s what ‘sub’ in subconscious means; to go below the level. For some of us, this can be painful, or at least difficult, to acknowledge aspects about ourselves. This is what brings about change - knowledge with an inward and an outward view.
“So in backbends we bring the mind to all the levels. That’s the beauty of backbends. Emotionally we can never be disturbed, for the emotional centre has become an extrovert. When you do Viparita Dandasana, your head looks backwards. But your conscious mind stretches everywhere. So you must study the subject this way. You go on studying. Then you know not only is there a freedom to the spine, there is a freedom to the spirit.” (BKS Iyengar)
It is when the backbend is done correctly, then you can study yourself and begin to “touch the human system as a whole” (BKS Iyengar). In most backbends you are not able to see the rest of your body with your eyes, so you need to learn to use your own internal eye. And only then does your mind go inside and you “hit your mind toward the internal body.”
“For a yogi, backbends are meant to invert the mind, to observe and to feel—first the back, then the consciousness and the very seer. Through the practice of backbends, by using the senses of perception to look back, and drawing the mind to the back portion of the body, one day meditation comes naturally."(BKS Iyengar)
Doreen in Vrishikasana
See you on the mat :)
Get ready for the Festive Season and practice some restorative yoga and learn some Pranayama techniques to navigate Christmas and the Silly Season. Special 2 hour Class Sunday 8th December 2-4pm. $45 includes afternoon tea. Book your place: https://yogapath.punchpass.com/passes/71116
Nicole Schroeter
Certified Iyengar Teacher
Yoga Path
Learn more about your yoga - become an Iyengar Yoga Teacher
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