This morning in my yoga class I taught the Shiva Nataraja pose. It always delights me the way a class of older people immediately become childlike, fun-filled as their innocence shines forth
I prepare the students for this by asking them to leave their mats and gather around mine, for the wrap that covers my yoga matt is edged with a border design of the Avatar Shiva. Shiva’s name is used by meditators calling the sacred sounds of Aum Nama Shiva Depicted with his four arms raised holding a conch shell, etc.
I explain to my students how Shiva is the lord of the dance of all life.Creation,maintenance and destruction.As so do our lives follow the same pattern as we create even something as simple as the next breath ,maintain it and then it must be destroyed on the out breath so that we can breathe in and create another breath another cycle. From birth to death lord Shiva’s dance of creation, maintenance and destruction. Yet it seems all a dream as we melt in and out of the many roles we play in our lives.
Asking the students to return to their mats standing,I have them close their eyes and picture a place before time and space. In the beginning-less beginning picture a movement, sense a vibration, barely there a shallow breath a softer than the breath of a sleeping child stirring the no thing into some-thing.We create a new a begi
ning as Lord Shiva hovering in space steps forward with his left foot, so do we, Left foot turned out as a ballet dancer knee bent; put your weight in to the left leg and as one we lift our right foot to turn it out knees bent. Raising our arms , remember Shiva has eight.( I’m usually asked at this point what do I do which arm
a m I raising ” Remember it is you who are now the creator, what shall you do?”)bending them at the elbow ,head held high our gaze on our creation in the depth of space. As we move slowly and silently across the floor now and then some instructions, the magic happens, firstly a smile smoothly we burst into giggles and finally laughter as balance is lost and regained and we weave in and out amongst ourselves, eyes shining and with a deeper sense of renewing.
Once more standing still on our mat to see how we have destroyed our creation of movement and laughter to create again.
as we live in an ever-expanding Universe I remind the class how as Shiva danced each time he raised his foot moons and stars were created, a flick of one of his arms and planets and solar systems came into being, galaxies and immense spinning clouds of dust as planets collided dust clouds painted across inky space to reform to ring planets and birth comets and Novas and still Shiva the Lord of the dance continues , as Yogis tell us we are but the dream of Shiva and when he opens his eyes we will all disappear.
Nataraj: Symbolism of the Dancing Shiva http://hinduism.about.com/od/lordshiva/p/nataraj.htm
The Nataraj Statue at CERN, Geneva:
In 2004, a 2m statue of the dancing Shiva was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva. A special plaque next to
the Shiva statue explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s cosmic dance with quotations from Capra: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists
created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the
patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”
To sum up, here’s an excerpt from a beautiful poem by Ruth Peel:
“The source of all movement,
Gives rhythm to the universe.
He dances in evil places,
He creates and preserves,
Destroys and releases.
We are part of this dance
This eternal rhythm,
And woe to us if, blinded
We detach ourselves
From the dancing cosmos,
This universal harmony…”
The class bubbles out the door at the end of the yoga session renewed in the reminder and the
understanding that the wheel of life that surrounds us and into which we dance birth and rebirth is as magical, beautiful and inspirational as only we can make it. step on the dwarf of ignorance and child like kick off your shoes and raise your arms as Shiva lord of the dance you can destroy ,maintain and recreate anew in each blessed and beautiful moment.