Lord Vishnu, a Hindu symbol of the divine life-sustaining force, is often depicted lounging on Ananta, his serpent couch. Ananta is his asana (literally ‘seat’ in Sanskrit) on which he forever floats, sometimes along with his consort, on the ocean of samsara (the cycle of life and death we are in).
This serpent Ananta is older than even my wife’s couch, which her friends claim has supported tens of thousands (?) of hours of lounging. In fact, ananta means without end in Sanskrit; Ananta goes on forever in time and space. His infinite number of heads curl up protecting Vishnu’s marked brow making sure he’s ‘got Vishnu’s back.’
The reclining Vishnu may look extravagantly relaxed, a natural yogi. Less we forget that he is charged with sustaining the realm of souls in the natural world – no easy job, I would think. So his yoga, like ours, is to bring ease into the potentially miserably difficult challenges in life.
Ananta helps Lord Vishnu do just that. Ananta is the yoga pose that brings ease to body that holds the divine within. Ananta is soft and smooth, with a definite internal structure but also an organic, flowing form that accommodates the god whom he serves. He has no sharp angles, but winds and curves gracefully, like the bones and flesh in our bodies.
Ananta can be taken as a metaphor for the yoga asanas we make on the mat. Wouldn’t it be great if we could engage our higher intuition and creativity to make lively, organic yoga poses – poses that support a full and nourishing breath, poses with lightness and ease as well as steadiness, ones that give us a taste of the internal state of pure, infinite soul, and support our divine life-sustaining force?
In today’s practice, I am bringing my meditation on Ananta into my body and mind to give sustenance to the soul.