Devotion and Dedication


Today is a celebratory day for many Hindus. It is the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, the birth of Lord Hanuman, the monkey god. As many of you know, I am a bit of an indophile and find an affinity for much of Indian culture and heritage outside of the practice of yoga alone. The gods and goddesses, in my opinion, provide an amazing array of story and verse and fable and teachings that highlight some of the practices of yoga, but also remind me of the complexity of the human condition and personality while also being spiritual beings in the world.

I have been drawn to Hanuman since my first trip to India for various reasons. First, he is a muscle-bound, handsome monkey-man and, well, I love primates of all forms. Second, he epitomizes perfect devotion to his chosen deity and a focus of discipline and dedication to task that I aspire to. And third, one of his greatest powers aside from super strength is the ability to shape-shift his size. The asana that represents him is the splits with a big chest- opening back bend.

Hanuman, who is the son of Vayu the wind god, is included in many of the epic stories of India. Most celebrated is his saving of Sita, the consort and love of the god Ram from the evil grasp of the demon Ravana. Ram is Hanuman’s chosen deity and every action he takes in life is to serve his lord. His devotion is absolute and his task to reunite the two lovers is his only thought. Any obstacle that Ram encounters, Hanuman is there to help and to innovate ways to get beyond and remove those obstacles in his way.

This kind of devotion and dedication that Hanuman holds is awe inspiring to me. First he inspires me to find that thing or things that fill my heart with joy…that kind of joy that might make you run outside and beat your chest gorilla-style! He reminds me to stay strong in the face of obstacles and to think outside the box when necessary. And he reminds me to dig deeper and connect to the energies of the earth and wind to transform myself for the better.

So, even though we may still be stuck inside for a while, be inspired by Hanuman today to recommit some dedication and devotion to any certain thing…maybe a deity, a person, a quality, a task…doesn’t matter what it is, even think outside your box…but let that focus be an energy to remove an obstacle or two and spark a light of joy.

Maybe you will run outside and beat your chest about it, but if that isn’t your style, there is a beautiful chant called the Hanuman Chalisa that can be listened to or recited as well.

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Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.