Myth & Movement: Add Contrast to Your Practice

Heighten the experience of your practice and what we can take from it.  

Myth & Movement is the new weekly vinyasa yoga series taught by Zarouhi Grumbar. In this class series, you’re invited to explore the stories behind the beloved yoga poses and how they relate to the practice and life as you weave them into fun and challenging sequences with arm balances and inversions, helping you to discover the inner magic and true potential. Perfect for yogis with experience and advanced practitioners.

Based in London with a young family, but originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Zaz’s teaching style is nourishing and empowering, with attention to alignment underpinned by her studies in applied anatomy. She brings an insistence on self-awareness and on discovering all that you are capable of.

The yoga tradition is so incredibly rich, there is no question that in our practice the vast majority of us only scratch the surface of what this 4000-year-old practice has to offer, in all its multifaceted dimensions.

Particularly in the West, despite our awareness of the different aspects or limbs of yoga, and knowing that it isn’t “just stretching”, we tend to focus predominantly on the external, and thus on our asana practice.  Yet, even in physical practice, we have the opportunity to delve in a little deeper to discover the meanings behind the poses, and what they hold to teach us.  This is like approaching a messy room, believing that we are looking for one specific thing, and yet discovering so many others.

As we go through our sun salutations, how often do we notice or consider the stories and meanings behind some of the postures?  In Warrior I pose, for example, we embody the powerful warrior Virabhadra sent to avenge the god Shiva’s wrath at the death of his beloved, only to realize that anger and violence are not the ideal solutions to a problem, and uncovering compassion and forgiveness is key, as we bring our hands back down to earth.  

chaturanga dandasana

It can be easy to think that the poses named after certain Hindu gods are the main ones with fascinating stories  – such as Hanumasana (the full splits, named for the depiction of the monkey demi-god, Hanuman, as he leaped across oceans for the love of his dearest friend), or Natarajasana (Dancer’s pose, named for Lord Shiva, showing an ability to be fearless in the face of change)… but each and every pose has something to teach us, as well as having powerful effects physically and energetically.  Even if we don’t do the fullest or most advanced variation of a posture – and I know that my own yoga journey is ever-evolving, as we all are – every step in the journey of the pose, from preparation to our individual expression still holds learning for us, in the fiery commitment (called Tapas in yogic philosophy) that we bring to our practice.

Chaturanga dandasana, four-limbed staff pose, harks back to the tradition of being committed to accepting learning from a teacher, and eventually understanding that our teachers, or gurus, can come in many forms – from other people to things in nature, and the lowering of the “staff” symbolizes the surrender of our ego to accept learning from all our teachers no matter how transient, or how great or small.

Looking into the myths behind the postures, and considering their meaning as we practice the poses adds color and contrast to heighten the experience of our practice and what we can take from it.  

In Myth & Movement, a series of Level 3 Vinyasa classes focused on the stories behind the asanas, amongst other poses we explore the myths and meanings behind Crow pose and Crane (the onomatopoeic Kakasana and Bakasana, named after a bird who asked some challenging questions), eight-angle pose and Flying Scissors (Astavakrasana and Koundinyasana, asanas carrying the names of two wise sages who defied opinion), Triangle pose (learning what the lines of Trikonasana represent in our lives), Peacock and Feathered Peacock pose – the arm balance and forearm stand (Mayurasana, and Pincha Mayurasana, discovering the surprising strength of the peacock!), and many more.