On the use of a prop in Asana

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On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Frater Aurum » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:45 am

93 everyone.

Although this is somewhat of a perennial topic I'd like to hopefully start a dicussion on the use of a prop. I've been practicing the dragon posture for about a year now in the AA and for the past month or so I've employed the use of a small zazen-style stool. I've found that it relieves me of great physical strain and allows me to better focus on the task at hand, whilst not making it an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, however I am able to sit for longer. Now I've been advised against this as reliance on a prop, which at first I thought wassound advice. As much as I've resisted the idea by telling myself that it's laziness or the desire for a shortcut, I can't shake the feeling that the use of a stool isn't an impediment to my practice nor is it shortcut to anything. I'll outline some reasons for feeling this:

1. Any position will be difficult, the body finds many ways to beckon you to move or adjust even when lying in bed.
2. The problem with a prop is that it may not always be on hand, and so one may come to rely on it. This is probably the best criticism, however use of a stool in dragon posture only causes reliance on a prop as much as the god posture causes reliance on a straight-backed chair. The latter is a suggested exercise, so reliance on a simple prop doesn't seem to be inadvisable.
3. The point of Asana does not seem to be to damage the body, or in any way weaken it, but rather to tame it. Indeed I believe we should be fortifying the body. Some out there suggest that this posture (and any posture that puts prolonged mechanical stress on joints, ligaments and tendons) can lead to, among other things, knee injury (one such place is the wiki for Vajrasana). Now this might only be a problem for those with a certain anatomical makeup or body type (e.g. large gastrocnmeius muscles could increase stress on the knee joint) and others might have no problems. At least for myself the stool ensures no damage comes with the practice, and as I'm also an athlete my knees are important.

I could, theoretically, just go and opt for a different posture (perhaps the hanged man, or simply a half lotus) but I've been sitting like this even before I was admitted to the AA, my body is familiar with it, and I now feel new life in it with the use of a stool. Given what I've written, would anybody still advise me against the use of a stool? How many people out there (I'm interested more in initiates of AA) use a prop in their Asana? May I ask whether you were advised against it, and why?

Peace!

93 93/93
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:33 am

Let success be your guide. :)

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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Archaeus » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:00 am

So what happens when you find yourself somewhere without your prop?

I have a seiza bench that I bought in the early days, I used it for about a week before deciding it was a waste of time.

These days I don't always use the Dragon, but since I practice martial arts I do spend a lot of time in Seiza. Because of my previous practice in the dragon I am comfortable for quite a long time in this posture, much longer than anyone else in my dojo.

The other thing is one of practicality, if you go to be tested in this posture will you be allowed to use the prop? If your superior didn't use it then I'd guess they are unlikely to allow you to use it.

In itself I don't think it's a bad thing, so long as you can guarantee that you would always have it with you, but it is exactly as labelled, a prop. Its better to just learn to sit seiza correclty, which is something you won't get from the AA texts but will have to get proper direction in this. Most people pu there body weight way too far back, crushing the ankles and cutting off the blood, but correct posture which leans slightly forward and does not put all of the body-weight on the ankles is better.

Hope this helps.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:53 am

Archaeus wrote:So what happens when you find yourself somewhere without your prop?

I meditate without it, in that case.

What if there's standing room only, our the ground us dirty, or... ?

We adapt.

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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Archaeus » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:29 am

Ok, then I'll simplify and say that some things you just have to get used to. But still, learning how to sit properly will make Asana a lot easier.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Swamiji » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:48 pm

Well, one posture (the God) basically requires some kind of seat, so I don't see why this is a problem.

And you're absolutely right: the point in asana is not to damage the body; for some reason a lot of would-be magicians seem to think that its a game of how much you can torture yourself, when that's not the point at all.

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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Frater Aurum » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:06 pm

I still think that for the purposes of examination it is important to hold everyone to the same standard, and to demonstrate competence in the task, so for the purposes of examination Liber E should be followed. However for continuing practice beyond examination conditions it is really up the student how they proceed.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Q789 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:22 am

I once used one of thoses stools. But then I was convinced that I should 'go through ' the pain- never turned back.

Best to go through the pain, I hvae heard many excuses and all of them from people who will always be initiates.

the beneifts are tremondous.

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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby nashimiron » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:03 am

Frater Aurum wrote:I still think that for the purposes of examination it is important to hold everyone to the same standard, and to demonstrate competence in the task, so for the purposes of examination Liber E should be followed. However for continuing practice beyond examination conditions it is really up the student how they proceed.


Exactly. So if you need a prop for a position, choose a different position. Then you can be examined in it without any unnecessary variables being brought in. Hatha Yoga Pradipika has plenty of positions, some of the cross legged ones can be done with the least chance of long term damage to joints. Especially if you start out with short amounts of time in the asana, like 10 minutes and increase gradually.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby gmugmble » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:23 pm

I'd like to see an advocate of the "don't use a prop" school do the God Asana without a chair.

Personally, I cannot sit in any asana for more than 15 minutes without my legs growing painfully numb. Using a seiza bench solved that; with my bench, I can practice asana for a long as I like without that particular problem arising. Maybe that's a weakness, and maybe it means that I would never be allowed to graduate from the Neophyte grade in this incarnation. But at least I can slog through the work with my humble crutch as best as I can. What if my bench were taken away from me? Well, then I'd have a problem again, but in the meantime I have a prop and I can get something done.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Starry Soul » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:26 pm

I'd say in the case of the God asana the chair is as much as a prop as the Earth is.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Archaeus » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:27 pm

There's nothing to say that a person should just blindly follow Liber E to do the grade work. The point is to aquire a posture that is steady and easy, not cripple yourself. Crowley had a fairly limited knowledge of Yoga based on what he learned in Raja Yoga, and these days we know a lot more. I think the principle is this; if you are going to sit in the dragon, then sit in the dragon. I'm generally against relying on a prop, but to be honest, if the dragon is acutely painful then use the half-lotus or something.

But like I said earlier, the main reason that people find the dragon so painful is that they sit back on their heels and cut off the circulation. If you do it right then you can sit for longer. Also if you are on the heavy side you're going to find it uncomfortable.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Frater_I_V » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:06 am

I also would add that a full body stretch, working out, maybe dieting a certain way which has different effects on blood flow. Going to any local Hindu temple or India. Also if he truly wants to know, he would simply have to pursue both practices. Then later when he is more adept, assess the results of both. The biggest lesson here is. Just do the work, and accept no authority whatsoever. Sometimes that even includes you. You must be constantly inquiring. Do it and record, then inquire?

I can tell you my experience, but in the end, it shouldn’t even matter. After doing my dragon posture Asana without the stool. That lack of circulation business went away, and in theory. My circulation got better. But the aim of an Asana is to be braced. So I also used a stool and did my Asana again, with the stool. For the same amount of time. The most annoying part is which to do first! HAHA! Ut oh, I just gave you a clue.

Don’t go dying on me now. Also, so many internet resource and so many books! A used book store! PDFS! Pirating! Oh god you mean WORK!?

Listen, I don’t know if I’ll be getting on this website ever again. I stumbled upon it randomly. If you rely on yourself, and learn to inquire. You should be alright. No one can tell you anything or teach you anything. That you cannot tell yourself or teach yourself. The only thing you need to know is. Accept no authority, which involves tradition. Learn to really inquire, figure out what this thinking business is all about. Then practice, record, really do things. A book a day keeps the Dementia away!

Once upon a time. I had a student, that was so determined. He had so much force. That he accomplished in one year, what my other students accomplished in ten. Here, have a bag of clues.

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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Starry Soul » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:20 pm

Frater_I_V wrote:Frater Invictum Voluntas
8=3

:roll:
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Faust » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:35 pm

Starry Soul wrote:
Frater_I_V wrote:Frater Invictum Voluntas
8=3

:roll:


Yes… Let’s hope that it is only a math mistake. :roll:
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Frater_I_V » Thu May 09, 2013 7:39 pm

“I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle”-Aleister crowley
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby landis » Thu May 09, 2013 8:46 pm

The Buddha's favorite asana was the Lion's pose: lying down on your right side with a pillow under your head, your right hand under your head with your thumb behind your ear and left hand resting on your left hip, legs straight out, feet on top of one another. He also taught sitting, walking and standing meditation.

Many advances have been made beyond Crowley's rather rigid "system" and since his original instructions. There are hundreds of meditation teachers available to all of us with great advice on asana, and most of them don't charge! It's folly to restrict ourselves to Crowley's archaic approach.

I've been meditating since '96 but in '07 was diagnosed with scoliosis/spinal arthritis (I'm in pain just sitting typing this). I cannot restrict myself to one asana or type of meditation becuase depending on my pain levels, pain location(s), etc..., different moments call for different measures. I've had the most succes--at times, in my "heyday", up to 2 to 2.5 hours of anapanasati--with the semi-lotus/modified Burmese asana with a prop, but only on days when my pain levels were low (which are becoming a rarity).
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby gerry456 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:16 pm

Frater Aurum wrote:93 everyone.

Although this is somewhat of a perennial topic I'd like to hopefully start a dicussion on the use of a prop. I've been practicing the dragon posture for about a year now in the AA and for the past month or so I've employed the use of a small zazen-style stool. I've found that it relieves me of great physical strain and allows me to better focus on the task at hand, whilst not making it an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, however I am able to sit for longer. Now I've been advised against this as reliance on a prop, which at first I thought wassound advice. As much as I've resisted the idea by telling myself that it's laziness or the desire for a shortcut, I can't shake the feeling that the use of a stool isn't an impediment to my practice nor is it shortcut to anything. I'll outline some reasons for feeling this:

1. Any position will be difficult, the body finds many ways to beckon you to move or adjust even when lying in bed.
2. The problem with a prop is that it may not always be on hand, and so one may come to rely on it. This is probably the best criticism, however use of a stool in dragon posture only causes reliance on a prop as much as the god posture causes reliance on a straight-backed chair. The latter is a suggested exercise, so reliance on a simple prop doesn't seem to be inadvisable.
3. The point of Asana does not seem to be to damage the body, or in any way weaken it, but rather to tame it. Indeed I believe we should be fortifying the body. Some out there suggest that this posture (and any posture that puts prolonged mechanical stress on joints, ligaments and tendons) can lead to, among other things, knee injury (one such place is the wiki for Vajrasana). Now this might only be a problem for those with a certain anatomical makeup or body type (e.g. large gastrocnmeius muscles could increase stress on the knee joint) and others might have no problems. At least for myself the stool ensures no damage comes with the practice, and as I'm also an athlete my knees are important.

I could, theoretically, just go and opt for a different posture (perhaps the hanged man, or simply a half lotus) but I've been sitting like this even before I was admitted to the AA, my body is familiar with it, and I now feel new life in it with the use of a stool. Given what I've written, would anybody still advise me against the use of a stool? How many people out there (I'm interested more in initiates of AA) use a prop in their Asana? May I ask whether you were advised against it, and why?

Peace!

93 93/93


Good question.

There are no stools in a desert. What if you were in a desert and wanted to meditate?
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:54 pm

gerry456 wrote:There are no stools in a desert. What if you were in a desert and wanted to meditate?

Pile up a bunch of sand.
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Re: On the use of a prop in Asana

Postby gerry456 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:02 am

Or cacti? Ha
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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