As you get more into yoga, your idea of yoga expands. Gradually it becomes about so much more than stretching, so much more than the physical asana practice that lured you to the studio in the first place. Yoga is the type of expansive practice that can truly be used to manifest whatever you want in your life. If you are looking for healing, balance, refuge, strength, direction and joy, yoga can help you create it. Yoga can also lead you to other subjects that you might never have studied or even known about and that you will suddenly find yourself curious to understand.
After chanting to Sita and Ram in class at Jivamukti and hearing about them from my teachers, one day I was inspired to pick up The Ramayana. The Ramayana is an epic poem and one of the most revered stories in India (Yana means story in Sanskrit, so it’s the story of Rama). In fact, in India it is not regarded as a magical, mythological tale but a true recounting of past events.
The Ramayana tells the story of Ram and Sita being banished to the forest, of Sita’s abduction and of Ram rescuing her and defeating the evil Rakshasas and their King Ravana. Along the journey, we are taught lessons about how to live through every interaction of the characters. We are taught about the path of dharma, the path of righteousness, about karma, about fulfilling our duty and loving and respecting our companions and family members. We meet Hanuman, the monkey-faced god and Lakshmana, Ram’s devoted brother who accompanies him and Sita into the forest. The writing is gorgeous, filled with metaphors and life lessons and reading the story gives you an idea of the values of Indian culture.
If you are expanding your idea of yoga and wanting to delve deeper into the path of dharma, read The Ramayana and add another layer to your understanding of the culture that yoga comes from. It reads like an adventure story, traveling through the magic of India, dripping with beautiful and sweet teachings. Highly recommended!