When Krishna was a child he was playing with his brother Balaram in the courtyard near his home. He took a scoop of earth in his hand and ate it. Balaram went running home to tell his mother, Yashoda. He told her “Krishna is eating dirt. He may choke on it”. Yashoda wasn’t surprised as Krishna was always getting into trouble. She grabbed Krishna and asked him if he’d been eating dirt. Krishna, his mouth and face covered in mud, replied that no he hadn’t eaten dirt. “Balaram is lying”, he told his mother. Of course Yashoda didn’t believe him. She told him to open his mouth. He did so but Yashoda didn’t see mud, instead she saw the entire universe and all of the galaxies.
Krishna’s family and their friends were vaguely aware of his divinity. But in order for Krishna to have a normal childhood with friends who were not in awe, and potentially scared, of his divinity, they allowed themselves to forget. This kind of forgetfulness is called lila. Similarly, the president of a country must forget his official role when he or she is playing with a grandchild. This is one of the paradoxes in yoga. First we must remember our divinity and then we must forget it in order to stay engaged in the world. It isn’t a complete forgetfulness though. We never lose our connection with our soul. We still remember that everything is in God and God is in everything.
Yoga is both very easy and very difficult. We simply must stop clinging to our ego. Yet this is one of the most difficult things we can do. The ultimate goal of yoga is to surrender to a higher power; surrender our ego in the sense that we are liberated from it while at the same time using the ego to function in the world. This surrender is symbolized through the pose balasana, child’s pose. Through surrender we open ourselves to receive and also to give. Balasana helps us to cultivate this quality of surrender.*
To take balasana, start on the hands and knees and then bring your hips down to your heels allowing the forehead to rest on the floor. Arms can either be stretched in front of the body or come back along side the body (there are other variations, but these are the two most common). knees can either be together or apart depending on your own comfort.
*Story as told in Myths of the Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooij