sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvartha sadhike sharanye tryambake gauri narayani namo’stu te (from Durga Saptashati, Chapter 11) I salute the three-eyed goddess, who fulfills the desire for liberation. Realization arises with Her blessing. She is the world itself. Only through the experiences of life can the soul be perfected. Honor this gift, your life.
To the ancient Egyptians, the Goddess Isis was the divine personification of the perfection that comes through the ability to connect perfectly. It was Isis, after all, who, through her power of love, reintegrated the dismembered body of her brother/husband, Osiris. She knew how to put it all back together because she held the key that connects: love.
Interestingly, the Egyptian hieroglyph for Isis, the Divine Mother Goddess, looks like a chair. Her hieroglyph looks like a seat, and its phonetic sound is st, like the Sanskrit sound sthit, which represents stability (the English word “steady” is related).
Obviously, the Egyptians did not mean that Isis should be referred to as “Your Chairness.” They were worshiping a quality of connectedness and relationship to the Earth that is inherent in the power aspect of the goddess.
Ram Dass, the great American spiritual teacher, put a chair on the cover of his classic 1971 book Be Here Now. Not a symbolic chair like the Egyptian hieroglyph for Isis, but an early American ladder-back, rattan seat chair, entangled in a network of interconnected lines that form a wheel. How appropriate for such an innovative book, one of the first books on yoga written by an American to reveal that yoga is about so much more than physical exercise.
Yoga is about being kind and good and connected well to the Earth. When you are, the Earth will support and sustain you. She as the Mother Goddess will also provide you with the means to go beyond mere sustainability, allowing you to rise out of all that has previously bound you to the mundane and impermanent. Through the experiences of life, opportunities to purify our karmas arise, leading to enlightenment or liberation from the world of suffering. Asana can be a means to overcome the limitations of the body revealing the more subtle sources of physical form.
Asana practice is a form of goddess worship. The Earth is another way of referring to the Divine Mother. Mother Earth is the Goddess. To practice asana means to practice perfecting one’s relationships with all aspects of the Earth and all beings that inhabit the Earth.
The Goddess supports those who are not greedy. Selflessness is the key to living happy in the world. It is the key to successful asana practice. It is the key to the attainment of Yoga. It is the way of the jivanmukta, the liberated being. A yogi walks in peace upon the earth, embracing each day, each experience, as providing opportunities for giving back more than he or she has taken.
The root of every asana is this steady connection to the earth. When your connection to the earth is stable, you feel ease in body and mind. Through this ease of being you begin to feel whole and with that wholeness, disconnection subsides, revealing your holiness -your own divine nature.
Practice: Seat of Isis Sequence found on pages 110-111 of the Jivamukti Yoga Book -Sharon Gannon (text adapted from the JY book)