Andrea Boyd is a long-time IPPL supporter who co-founded the Jivamukti yoga studio eight years ago with her husband Jeffrey Cohen in nearby Mount Pleasant. She visited the IPPL sanctuary today and brought with her a couple of friends and fellow yoga practitioners, Elii Manzo and Jason (Jay) McNamara. The three of them came to say hello to our gibbons and also demonstrated some classic Jivamukti yoga “postures for primates.”
This pose (asana, or “seat”) is named for the monkey god Hanuman, Andrea says, who was a servant of Lord Rama and a central character in the Hindu epic Ramayana. At one point, Hanuman was asked to fetch a special herb to heal a wounded warrior. However, once he reached the mountain where the herb grew, he was unable to identify the plant, so he brought the entire herb-covered mountain back to Rama. This pose (demonstrated by Andrea, left, and Elii) symbolizes how Hanuman flew through the air to bring the mountain of herbs back to his master. Andrea says you can also do this pose with both arms straight overhead, palms together, in a prayer-like fashion, in honor of Hanuman.
What I would call a headstand, Andrea would call Sirsasana, the “king of seats” (“king of asanas”). It turns your world upside-down, but in a good way, says Andrea, sending blood to your brain, stimulating positive hormone flow, aligning energy, and bringing balance and calm. Here, Elii (left) and Andrea show Gibby a couple of variations on the Sirsasana.
And I know Gibby understands exactly what they’re doing—because (as in the photo below, which I took a couple of years ago) he likes to do his own Sirsasana, too!
This rainbow-like posture is also known as a “wheel,” as demonstrated by Jay (left) and Elii, to either side of Andrea. One of the tenets of Jivamukti yoga is “ahimsa,” or nonviolence toward all living things. Andrea explains that this posture essentially “turns us into four-legged creatures” and opens the energy around the heart. Nicholas looks like he’s trying to get the hang of it.
The “peacock feather seat,” says Andrea (who is demonstrating it for Nicholas, who looks impressed) is another inversion, like the Sirsasana. In this pose, you can gain a feeling of lightness, but it also points to the multi-dimensionality of the human spirit, like the many colors of a peacock’s feather. Jivamukti yoga is very much a spiritual practice. “The foundation of yoga is compassion, and that’s what we teach,” says Andrea. “We need to take care of the planet and our environment. We are the caretakers of the world’s animals.”
You can tell that she feels at home at IPPL’s sanctuary!