This asana is called "Viparita Dandasana" - The Inverted Staff Posture.

The ‘danda’ is a staff, rod, or scepter - It is a special stick that one could find being carried equally by a wandering ascetic or a sovereign king.   

In the hands of the fear provoking goddess, Kali, who personifies the irreproachable sovereignty of Time, the ‘danda’ signifies her inexorable power and destructive impulse. She holds the ability to both give life and destroy it.  She strips the veils of illusion away from the eyes of her devotees, and dissolves all distinctions and differences between people. We are all at her mercy.

Kali is described as a vicious four-armed woman, with fangs for teeth, who devours all beings who challenge her authority. In her hands she holds a “pasa” (noose), “khatvanga” (skull-topped staff), “khadga” (sword) and a severed head to remind us as viewers, that no one can escape from her eventual annihilation. Kali is also known as "the black one." Black is the colour in which all shapes and distinctions dissolve. In the “eternal night” she stands upon the formlessness of non-existence, a static but potentially dynamic state that precedes all manifestation.

Her nakedness indicates that she has stripped off all forms of existence along with the confusion that arises from being embodied in this world - Her only garment is Space.

Dandadhara” means “rod-bearer” and is another name for Yama, the ruler of the underworld, lord of the dead. In his hands the ‘danda’ represents both justice and punishment. His presence is the ultimate force of restraint on every being, and under his statute all humans are created equal.

His name shares a commonality with the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga: the root ‘Yam’ - means “to curb” hence the term ‘Yama’ is the act of “curbing” or “restraining” or cultivating “self-control.”

This reminds me of the biblical proverb (I’m sure you’re familiar) “spare the rod and spoil the child” which is an admonishment to not shy away from disciplining young developing minds.

In the eight limbs, the first limb is ‘Yama’ and it describes five ways to develop Self-Discipline and Self-Control, so that we can mature into fully Realized beings.

All ancient wisdom, even that found in vastly different traditions, share similar commonalities. Mythologies and symbols are like great poems, which point to a deeper spiritual awareness beyond the duality of subject and object. They move us to recognize the ubiquity of this ‘presence’ or ‘infinity’ that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.   

It is precisely this unquenchable desire to brush up against this presence, this infinity, that keeps me practicing day in and day out.

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