Sianna Sherman, international yoga teacher and founder of Rasa Yoga, comes to triyoga this February to run her popular 300-hour Rasa Yoga teacher training. The training is for anyone who has a 200-hour teaching qualification and who wants to go deeper, learning the whole alchemical spectrum of yoga.
Ahead of her visit, Sianna explains the meaning behind the Sanskrit word Rasa and how it can transform our yoga practice.
As yoga practitioners and teachers, we are constantly practising to cultivate peace and joy through our yoga. Unexpected or challenging events however, can often throw us into a whirlwind of strong emotions that can pull us from our centre.
The Sanskrit word Rasa, means essence, flavour, 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!
Rasas are also a fundamental concept in Indian arts including dance, literature, theatre, music, and sculpture, and they refer to the aesthetic flavour of the art and the emotion that it evokes in the audience.
The tantric tradition recognises nine Rasas. Each of these flavours can be cultivated and used as one of our greatest gifts in life.
The nine rasas in the tantric tradition are:
Joy and laughter
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.
Tantra teaches that “the poison is the 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 does not feel just or gets out of control, your yoga practice can be a way to bring yourself back into balance.
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.
Ultimately Rasa Yoga is about deep devotion to the whole of life.