Ahead of her weekend of workshops and 300-hour rasa yoga teacher training in Camden, international yoga teacher Sianna Sherman explores the meaning of the sanskrit term rasa. What are the nine rasas recognised by the tantric tradition? How can the more complex rasas, such as anger and fear, be useful on a spiritual path? Discover all this, plus details on how to book on to the training below.
As yoga practitioners and teachers, we are constantly practising to cultivate peace and joy through our yoga. We also have the responsibility to commit and recommit to our daily practice, for practice is the foundation of clear teaching and learning. However, unexpected or challenging events can often throw us into a whirlwind of strong emotions that can pull us from our center.
The sanskrit word rasa, means essence, flavor, juice or sentiment.
Rasa refers to all the different feelings and tastes of life – the full spectrum of human emotion… some are more pleasant than others. Sitting with and acknowledging these (essences of life) helps us to tap into the nectar of what it means to live.
Every experience evokes a rasa…
Rasas are a fundamental concept in Indian arts including dance, literature, theater, music and sculpture, and they refer to the aesthetic flavor of the art and the emotion that it evokes in the audience.
The tantric tradition recognises nine rasas. Each of these flavors or sentiments can be cultivated and used as one of our greatest gifts in life. The nine rasas in the tantric tradition are:
1 – Love, Beauty, Passion
2 – Joy + Laughter
3 – Compassion
4 – Courage
5 – Anger
6 – Fear
7 – Disgust
8 – Wonder
9 – Peace
While cultivating joy, compassion and courage are a common goal of yogic practices, we might wonder, as yogis, how anger, fear and disgust can be useful at all on a spiritual path.
Each rasa is a gateway into our empowerment and our ability to transform ourselves from the inside out. Tantra teaches to “transform poison into nectar”, meaning that anything can be an asset, depending on what you do with it.
Let’s look at anger. It is a powerful emotion. The next time you are angry, allow yourself to feel the emotion fully. Feel into the energy beneath the anger. What is truly bothering you? What is at stake? Anger can be a wake-up call to draw us into empowered action to take a stand against the injustices of the world. Anger can be a sign that we have not upheld clear boundaries or that someone we love has been hurt or violated in some way. Sometimes harnessing the raw power of your anger is exactly what is called for.
If your anger feels harmful or out of control, come to your breath to anchor and reorient. Observe what is happening in your body and where the anger is living. Stay connected with your breath, feeling, and inner listening.
Practise slow, deep breathing. Watch the feeling of anger and keep allowing it to be present. Continue breathing and notice how with a little time and space, the feeling dissipates. Move your body. Even 15 minutes of yoga and breathing can be extremely beneficial in moving energy and creating an inner shift.
Remember that all the emotions and flavours of life are part of the ecstatic human experience. The next time a feeling arises that overwhelms or confuses you, ask yourself how you can turn the emotion into an ally and use it for your personal growth and transformation.
With the alchemical practices of rasa yoga, we strengthen our vessel, let go of resistance, get out of our own way and dive into the unleashed flow of love and creativity that we are here to be and express.
Join me on for an alchemical journey for my 300-hour rasa yoga teacher training at triyoga Camden beginning February 2020. Together we will generate a sonic wave of love and join our hearts in collective prayer, practice, conversation, dance, song, mantra, meditation, rituals and soul-crafting vision.