By Manjari Bhatt
To learn Indian classical music, no matter which music school or Gharana you go to, the way very first Raga you will be taught is 'Raga Bhupali' or Bhoopali because it is easy to teach for a teacher and easy to learn for a student. The same way, no matter which Yoga school you go to, the 1st pose is taught Talasan or "Tadasan" a Palm-tree pose. I learned "Talasan" during my first course in 1974 'Yoga for Better living.' Due to my major in Psychology at the University, I was interested in Yoga - the Indian Psychology. So I went to the World recognized Yoga School, The Yoga Institute, Bombay, India. There in my Teacher's Training program during 1991-'93, again I'd to learn the same pose! With my deep interest and 'more to learn attitude' led me to learn Yoga Therapeutics, where no matter which health-camp I was attending or assisting, the 1st pose was taught again Talasan at the institute. So my base became very strong due to two reasons: (1) I've learned and practiced this pose for at least 17 years before my Teacher's Training Course and (2) I've learned various variations of the same pose taught at the Institute for various disorders and illnesses - for cure n prevention.After receiving my C.Y.Ed. Certificate in 1993 from The Yoga Institute, I went to several world known Yoga Schools to explore more n learn more techniques as each and every Yoga School offers some unique techniques! For me it was a great learning experience for the same pose with different explanation, position, variations and practices! The question in my mind was, that why 'Talasan'? What made our great Yogis and Yoga Masters to practice this particular pose? There are many trees on earth! Why they have selected only a 'Palm Tree' in particular? As our great Yogis thousand years back with their minute and precise observation of the Mother Nature selected all Asanas, naturally there has to be some reason behind that! When we hear the word 'Nature' the first thing comes in our mind is greenery, beautiful trees, plants and flowers! This was not only my experience but I asked all my students during all these years and majority answered the same word, Greenery . So is the first pose related to a tree! The way human life itself is a learning stage for entire life and Yogic life adds more awareness and positive attitude to it. I've learnt and now teaching yoga for several years to different people, age group and dealing with various problems: Physical and mental. I'm teaching 'Talasan' with variations and cultivate different attitudes in relations to the purpose and cause of participants, attending my yoga classes or sessions.I'm constantly comparing the similarities of the Palm-tree with our human life. Learning various skills in order to survive as an individual, part of a family and member of a community, society or a nation. There are so many things to learn from the nature all the time! If the person keeps open senses, mind with positive attitude, awareness and eagerness. He will be never being a short of any solutions to any worldly problems, obstacles or hindrances. Only one pose teaches great things to overcome our most common problems. Just think of the rest of poses yoga has to offer! I've come out with my own understanding and explanation about this pose! I would like to share it with other yoga teachers, students and practitioners(1) ROOTS AND LEAVES - THE BASE AND EXPANSION:The way strength and base of the tree is in its roots, and how it spreads out and holds the grip of the ground. Here, in Yoga, toes represent the base of yoga practitioner. To stand on feet by using and balancing on toes, the ten toes represents the 10 basic principles of Yama and Niyama. The universal code of conduct or moral conducts, the first two steps of Eightfold path. One who is thoroughly practicing Yama and Niyama in day-to-day living, will never faces any problem! The base becomes so strong that nothing affects the practitioner. Nothing can disturb, attract, divert or oppose on the path of your progress. It also helps to find and choose the right goal and a path for personal growth. The Palm tree has very strong roots and normally grows in the sandy soil, mostly on the costal line near the seashores or sandy deserts. Very hard and difficult to keep grip in sandy soil than the mud soil but the more deep-rooted, holds the better grip. In Talasan, pointed toes touching the ground, help in balancing and caring the body weight, on tip of the toes, shows the strong rooted base. Same way one who is completely immersed in practicing Yama n Niyama is very strongly rooted on the yogic path.The palm tree always faces the most adverse weather conditions - storms and blowing winds but because of its flexibility, it survives. The tree bends in the direction of the wind and doesn't oppose it. It stands up right once the storm is over. In human life, we also have many ups and downs. Human life is full of struggles. If one become flexible then it's easy to tackle the situations. Once the dark days or time is over again he can live with same strength and vigor again.This particular tree lives with minimum nutrients. Either in salty sands at sea- shore with lots of water or in dries sands of deserts with minimum water. A great survival skill! The best quality about this tree is that it will absorb the required amount. It's the roots, which decide how much water to absorb for its life. A grate survival strength & technique and thus, teaches us the survival skills and how to be contended. Human beings also need to learn to live with required needs in order to survive while developing the virtue of Santosha - contentment. Again coming back to the base of Niyama. Whether you have maximum or minimum, it's your choice to be and feel contended!One thing is important that while sawing the seed and during seedling if enough care has been taken, it will grow correctly, straight and turn out as a healthy tree. The tree will also flourish. A healthy seed prospers as and into a healthy tree. It will blossom and reproduces the healthy fruits hence healthy seeds again. This circle will carry on for ages. Same way a healthy person can create a healthy generation! That is only possible if the person is fulfilling his duties and living a disciplined life. Here we are also covering the 1st aspect of Yoga Education: Dharma -Dharma means duty & discipline. The practice of Yama and Niyama brings discipline in life and disciplined life brings awareness of duties. Plus while learning Yoga, if you saw a seed of right intention and motive in your mind then the practitioner will be a true Yogi in his/her practices. By all means: thought, action and end-results.(2) THE TREE AND HUMAN BODY The Palm-tree has all its parts very strongly bonded to each and other. Each and every cells, tissues and threads are so strongly interlinked from its roots, trunk to its leaves that you can't break or separate! Literally you have to cut a leaf or a part, to make a piece or separate it from the tree itself.Our human body is also similar with all interlinked and connected bones, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, skin etc. Each and every tissue is connected that you can't break or separate. While practicing Asanas and Pranayams, we are trying to learn and develop the awareness to keep them healthy, connected in harmony and balance. If there is any imbalance, injury or problem we can detect easily, tackle and try to solve.Thus second two steps of eightfold path: Asana and Pranayam; we are learning and covering in the one n same pose. By synchronizing the coordination of physical movements with the breathing and coordinate body balance, brings knowledge of and about the self at physical level as well as mental level. In this pose advance student or practitioner can practice all the breathing techniques: inhalation, retention, exhalation and suspension: Here we are covering the 2 nd aspect of Yoga Education: Jnana - Knowledge. Here awareness is a key point to acquire knowledge. Any activity done with full and complete awareness is likely to gain some sort of knowledge definitely, some way or the other, sooner or later(3) LEAF & TREE -INDIVIDUAL & FAMILYThe tree represents the family and the leaves represent the members of the family. The old leaves make a room for a new coming out leaf and protect till the central leaf is enough grown to stand on its own. All leaves spread-out in such a way as to give enough place to each and every leaf individually to grow. They fall, as per the direction, to help keep the tree up right, balanced, and intact, as a whole and one, as an independent unit!
Similarly, in a family unit, a newborn baby gets protection, love and care till he/she is grownup. One thing has to be remembered that the human baby is the most dependent creature compared to other creatures of the universe! Other babies of insects, birds or animals get independent in few days weeks or months. Human baby takes few years to be independent! On becoming an adult member of the family, he has to play his role and duties as an individual as well as a part of the family, without disturbing the family peace, harmony and unity. This is a straight message of performance of duties and disciplined life. If you practice these both, then positive results ought to come!The position of hands in various variations represents the position of the leaves of the tree. The most spread-out leaves on the sides to the new one in the center. The bunch of leaves represents the family members as a unit of the society. You will never see all the leaves coming out at the same time and in the same side or direction on Palm-tree! They fall apart in such a way that it gives a total and complete balance to the tree as one and strong unit. So is the case of a balanced and complete family! Only such group of families can built the balanced and complete community, a society and a nation! The way any healthy seed produces a healthy tree, similarly a healthy human produces a healthy family and healthy generations to come.While standing only on toes and balancing, we are practicing concentration. Without concentration one can t balance! One can only concentrate when other senses are controlled. A minute disturbance can result into imbalance. The more you concentrate more you can hold the position in up till the final stage of this pose. In other words, you are detaching yourself from the surroundings, in order to concentrate. This detachment is a step further towards Pratyahara, the 5 Th step on eightfold path. When you hold this pose for a prolonged period as a static pose, it leads to the further step of Dharna the 6 Th step of eightfold path. When Pratyahar and Dharna is practiced thoroughly, it leads the practitioner to the 3rd aspect of Yoga education, which is Vairagya - detachment. When a conscious attempt for detachment is mastered, then nothing on earth can disturb the yoga practitioner. If the mastery is cultivated at physical level then it's easy to transfer it to mental level. When body is under full control then mind follows the body! Some times it comes automatically! Note that here we are talking of as a positive detachment a detachment-at-will, not as a tool of escapism or ignorance.The leaf of palm tree, which grows first in order, gets pale and
Yellowish first. It gets older first, gets dried, falls and drops on the sides. It does not drop-off from the tree like any other trees but literally it has to be cut down to separate it from the tree. Though it's a dead leaf, very strongly connected and linked through its threads with the main tree, where it was and belonged. The leaf, which grows first, also dies first. A very true and hard reality. The leaf dies but the tree remains intact. More to that, the tree-roots branch out and spread out resulting into a bunch of new trees! Similarly in human society, the old and grown-up person first makes a path for new member to come. He watches and helps in growth and progress of the new member and when time comes, he dies. Though the person dies, he can t be separated from the family! The family still exists intact and on the contrary it branches out into a larger family! That s how it works, from generations to generations, from ages to the date and will, in the future too.When the fact is accepted, that one who is born has to die then all the fear vanishes! Especially the fear of death, which is very common in all living beings. From an ant to elephant, from a time primitive to today's most modern world, from a most ignorant to the most learned man! One who is born first also dies first. If and when a man then accepts this law of the nature, he is in the most blissful state! He gets engrossed easily in any activity he does including Dhyana - meditation! This state is known as Aishvarya the state of Self-realization. Here person does not need to sit in any complicated meditative pose! Even standing in Simple Prarthanasana is sufficient. Normally more stress is given to the pose but my experience is that the mental status plays major role in Yoga than merely physically perfect pose!
In short by practicing only one pose of Talasan with the right attitudes, the yoga practitioner can follow all the steps of eightfold path: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi This pose can also cover all the aspects and the base of Yoga education: Dharma. Jnana, Vairagya and Aishvarya that's why it's a complete pose and taught first. This pose is easy to learn and there are no limits for the advancement for any learner or a practitioner. My personal explanation is that, practice of duties and disciplined life brings awareness. The awareness brings knowledge and wisdom to discriminate good and bad, right and wrong, true and false. So the wise person will easily detach from the things that are not suitable for his personal growth. The virtue of detachment brings the power of concentration, which leads to the highest stage of self-realization. Yoga education takes place much more at subconscious level. Learning experience becomes a life style. It becomes a part of day-to-day living. Thus the whole process transforms the person from gross to the subtlest level of self-experiences and consciousness.This pose is a base for beginners, advance learners and spiritual seekers. Whoever is practicing this pose can achieve as per his understanding, capacity and capability, depending on the self and tips and guidance he gets from his teacher. Benefits are countless at physical, mental and spiritual level. Now, I feel, I have thoroughly understood as to why Talasan the palm-tree pose was selected by our great Yogis! Through this pose direct and straight universal message has been given to the mankind irrespective of age, time and place! CONCLUSION:
Now days young deaths are more visible due to major diseases and faulty life styles. Due to modern technology everything is moving very fast than the normal speed and progress. The end results immature and early deaths due to stress and tension which normal and average man ca' t take it! In yoga it is said that the more you are close to the nature, you are more healthy and happy, more you are away from her, you are more sick, sad and unhealthy. Unfortunate part is that the man of this age, instead of living close to the nature and harmonizing with her, wants to conquer the Mother Nature and we can see the end-results more pain, misery and unhappiness in human society. The unhealthiest society! It is high time for us, as Yoga teachers, students and practitioners to spread this message out. To bring the harmony and peace in the society and create a healthy society for the next generation and for the generations to come!
Manjari Bhatt is a Yoga Teacher & Therapist and Founder of Yoga Education Centre Ontario
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