By Manjari Bhatt
To learn Indian classical music, no matter which music school or Gharana you go to, the way very first Raga you will be taught is
'Raga Bhupali' or Bhoopali because it is easy to teach for a teacher and easy to learn for a student. The same way, no matter which Yoga school you go to, the 1st pose is taught Talasan or
"Tadasan" a Palm-tree pose.
I learned "Talasan" during my first course in 1974 'Yoga for Better living.' Due to my major in Psychology at the University, I was interested in Yoga
- the Indian Psychology. So I went to the World recognized Yoga School, The Yoga Institute, Bombay, India. There in my Teacher's
Training program during 1991-'93, again I'd to learn the same pose! With my deep interest and
'more to learn attitude' led me to learn Yoga Therapeutics, where no matter which health-camp I was attending or assisting, the 1st pose was taught again Talasan at the institute. So my base became very strong due to two reasons: (1) I've learned and practiced this pose for at least 17 years before my Teacher's Training Course and (2) I've learned various variations of the same pose taught at the Institute for various disorders and illnesses
- for cure n prevention.
After receiving my C.Y.Ed. Certificate in 1993 from
The Yoga Institute, I went to several world known Yoga Schools to
explore more n learn more techniques as each and every Yoga School
offers some unique techniques! For me it was a great learning experience
for the same pose with different explanation, position, variations and
practices! The question in my mind was, that why 'Talasan'? What made our great Yogis and Yoga Masters to practice this particular pose? There are many trees on earth! Why they have selected only a
'Palm Tree' in particular? As our great Yogis thousand years back with their minute and precise observation of the Mother Nature selected all Asanas,
naturally there has to be some reason behind that!
When we hear the word 'Nature' the first thing comes
in our mind is greenery, beautiful trees, plants and flowers! This was
not only my experience but I asked all my students during all these
years and majority answered the same word, Greenery. So is the first
pose related to a tree! The way human life itself is a learning stage
for entire life and Yogic life adds more awareness and positive attitude
to it. I've learnt and now teaching yoga for several years to different
people, age group and dealing with various problems: Physical and
mental. I'm teaching 'Talasan' with variations and cultivate different attitudes in relations to the purpose and cause of participants, attending my yoga classes or sessions.
I'm constantly comparing the similarities of the Palm-tree with our human life. Learning various skills in order to survive as an individual, part of a family and member of a community, society or a nation. There are so many things to learn from the nature all the time! If the person keeps open senses, mind with positive attitude, awareness and eagerness. He will be never being a short of any solutions to any worldly problems, obstacles or hindrances. Only one pose teaches great things to overcome our most common problems. Just think of the rest of poses yoga has to offer! I've come out with my own understanding and explanation about this pose! I would like to share it with other yoga teachers, students and practitioners
(1) ROOTS AND LEAVES - THE BASE AND EXPANSION:
The way strength and base of the tree is in its roots, and how it spreads out and holds the grip of the ground. Here, in Yoga, toes represent the base of yoga practitioner. To stand on feet by using and balancing on toes, the ten toes represents the 10 basic principles of
Yama and Niyama. The universal code of conduct or moral conducts, the first two steps of Eightfold path. One who is thoroughly practicing Yama and Niyama in day-to-day
living, will never faces any problem! The base becomes so strong
that nothing affects the practitioner. Nothing can disturb, attract,
divert or oppose on the path of your progress. It also helps to find
and choose the right goal and a path for personal growth.
The Palm tree has very strong roots and normally
grows in the sandy soil, mostly on the costal line near the
seashores or sandy deserts. Very hard and difficult to keep grip in
sandy soil than the mud soil but the more deep-rooted, holds the better grip. In Talasan, pointed toes touching the ground, help in balancing and caring the body weight, on tip of the toes, shows the strong rooted base. Same way one who is completely immersed in practicing Yama n Niyama
is very strongly rooted on the yogic path.
The palm tree always faces the most adverse
weather conditions - storms and blowing winds but because of its flexibility, it survives. The tree bends in the direction of the wind and doesn't oppose it. It stands up right once the storm is over. In human life, we also have many ups and downs. Human life is full of struggles. If one become flexible then it's
easy to tackle the situations. Once the dark days or time is over
again he can live with same strength and vigor again.
This particular tree lives with minimum
nutrients. Either in salty sands at sea- shore with lots of water or in dries sands of deserts with minimum water. A great survival skill! The best quality about this tree is that it will absorb the required amount. It's the roots, which decide how much water to absorb for its life. A grate survival strength & technique and thus, teaches us the survival skills and how to be contended. Human beings also need to learn to live with required needs in order to survive while developing the virtue of Santosha
- contentment. Again coming back to the base of Niyama. Whether you have maximum or minimum, it's
your choice to be and feel contended!
One thing is important that while sawing the seed
and during seedling if enough care has been taken, it will grow
correctly, straight and turn out as a healthy tree. The tree will
also flourish. A healthy seed prospers as and into a healthy tree.
It will blossom and reproduces the healthy fruits hence healthy
seeds again. This circle will carry on for ages. Same way a healthy
person can create a healthy generation! That is only possible if the
person is fulfilling his duties and living a disciplined life. Here
we are also covering the 1st aspect of Yoga Education: Dharma -Dharma means duty & discipline. The practice of Yama and Niyama brings discipline in life and disciplined life brings awareness of duties. Plus while learning Yoga, if you saw a seed of right intention and motive in your mind then the practitioner will be a true Yogi in his/her practices. By all means: thought, action and end-results.
(2) THE TREE AND HUMAN BODY
The Palm-tree has all its parts very strongly bonded to each and other. Each and every cells, tissues and threads are so strongly interlinked from its roots, trunk to its leaves that you can't break or separate! Literally you have to cut a leaf or a part, to make a piece or separate it from the tree itself.
Our human body is also similar with all interlinked and connected bones, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, skin etc. Each and every tissue is connected that you can't break or separate. While practicing
Asanas and Pranayams, we are trying to learn and develop the awareness to keep them healthy, connected in harmony and balance. If there is any imbalance, injury or problem we can detect easily, tackle and try to solve.
Thus second two steps of eightfold path: Asana and
Pranayam; we are learning and covering in the one n same pose.
By synchronizing the coordination of physical movements with the
breathing and coordinate body balance, brings knowledge of and about the
self at physical level as well as mental level. In this pose advance
student or practitioner can practice all the breathing techniques:
inhalation, retention, exhalation and suspension: Here we are covering
the 2 nd aspect of Yoga Education: Jnana - Knowledge. Here
awareness is a key point to acquire knowledge. Any activity done with
full and complete awareness is likely to gain some sort of knowledge
definitely, some way or the other, sooner or later
(3) LEAF & TREE -INDIVIDUAL & FAMILY
The tree represents the family and the leaves
represent the members of the family. The old leaves make a room for
a new coming out leaf and protect till the central leaf is enough
grown to stand on its own. All leaves spread-out in such a way as to
give enough place to each and every leaf individually to grow. They
fall, as per the direction, to help keep the tree up right,
balanced, and intact, as a whole and one, as an independent unit!
Similarly, in a family unit, a newborn baby gets protection, love
and care till he/she is grownup. One thing has to be remembered that
the human baby is the most dependent creature compared to other
creatures of the universe! Other babies of insects, birds or animals
get independent in few days weeks or months. Human baby takes few
years to be independent! On becoming an adult member of the family,
he has to play his role and duties as an individual as well as a
part of the family, without disturbing the family peace, harmony and
unity. This is a straight message of performance of duties and
disciplined life. If you practice these both, then positive results
ought to come!
The position of hands in various variations
represents the position of the leaves of the tree. The most
spread-out leaves on the sides to the new one in the center. The
bunch of leaves represents the family members as a unit of the
society. You will never see all the leaves coming out at the same
time and in the same side or direction on Palm-tree! They fall apart
in such a way that it gives a total and complete balance to the tree
as one and strong unit. So is the case of a balanced and complete
family! Only such group of families can built the balanced and
complete community, a society and a nation! The way any healthy seed
produces a healthy tree, similarly a healthy human produces a
healthy family and healthy generations to come.
While standing only on toes and balancing, we are
practicing concentration. Without concentration one can t balance!
One can only concentrate when other senses are controlled. A minute
disturbance can result into imbalance. The more you concentrate more
you can hold the position in up till the final stage of this pose.
In other words, you are detaching yourself from the surroundings, in
order to concentrate. This detachment is a step further towards
Pratyahara, the 5 Th step on eightfold path. When you
hold this pose for a prolonged period as a static pose, it leads to
the further step of Dharna the 6 Th step of eightfold
path. When Pratyahar and Dharna is practiced thoroughly, it leads
the practitioner to the 3rd aspect of Yoga education, which is
Vairagya - detachment. When a conscious attempt for
detachment is mastered, then nothing on earth can disturb the yoga
practitioner. If the mastery is cultivated at physical level then
it's easy to transfer it to mental level. When body is under full
control then mind follows the body! Some times it comes
automatically! Note that here we are talking of as a positive
detachment a detachment-at-will, not as a tool of escapism or
The leaf of palm tree, which grows first in
order, gets pale and
Yellowish first. It gets older first, gets dried, falls and drops on
the sides. It does not drop-off from the tree like any other trees
but literally it has to be cut down to separate it from the tree.
Though it's a dead leaf, very strongly connected and linked through
its threads with the main tree, where it was and belonged. The leaf,
which grows first, also dies first. A very true and hard reality.
The leaf dies but the tree remains intact. More to that, the
tree-roots branch out and spread out resulting into a bunch of new
trees! Similarly in human society, the old and grown-up person first
makes a path for new member to come. He watches and helps in growth
and progress of the new member and when time comes, he dies. Though
the person dies, he can t be separated from the family! The family
still exists intact and on the contrary it branches out into a
larger family! That s how it works, from generations to generations,
from ages to the date and will, in the future too.
When the fact is accepted, that one who is born
has to die then all the fear vanishes! Especially the fear of death,
which is very common in all living beings. From an ant to elephant,
from a time primitive to today's most modern world, from a most
ignorant to the most learned man! One who is born first also dies
first. If and when a man then accepts this law of the nature, he is
in the most blissful state! He gets engrossed easily in any activity
he does including Dhyana - meditation! This state is
known as Aishvarya the state of Self-realization.
Here person does not need to sit in any complicated meditative pose!
Even standing in Simple Prarthanasana is sufficient. Normally more
stress is given to the pose but my experience is that the mental
status plays major role in Yoga than merely physically perfect pose!
In short by practicing only one pose of Talasan with the right
attitudes, the yoga practitioner can follow all the steps of
eightfold path: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharana,
Dhyan and Samadhi This pose can also cover all the aspects and the
base of Yoga education: Dharma. Jnana, Vairagya and Aishvarya that's
why it's a complete pose and taught first. This pose is easy to
learn and there are no limits for the advancement for any learner or
My personal explanation is that, practice of duties
and disciplined life brings awareness. The awareness brings knowledge
and wisdom to discriminate good and bad, right and wrong, true and
false. So the wise person will easily detach from the things that are
not suitable for his personal growth. The virtue of detachment brings
the power of concentration, which leads to the highest stage of
self-realization. Yoga education takes place much more at subconscious
level. Learning experience becomes a life style. It becomes a part of
day-to-day living. Thus the whole process transforms the person from
gross to the subtlest level of self-experiences and consciousness.
This pose is a base for beginners, advance learners
and spiritual seekers. Whoever is practicing this pose can achieve as
per his understanding, capacity and capability, depending on the self
and tips and guidance he gets from his teacher. Benefits are countless
at physical, mental and spiritual level.
Now, I feel, I have thoroughly understood as to why
Talasan the palm-tree pose was selected by our great Yogis! Through this
pose direct and straight universal message has been given to the mankind
irrespective of age, time and place!
Now days young deaths are more visible due to major diseases and faulty
life styles. Due to modern technology everything is moving very fast
than the normal speed and progress. The end results immature and early
deaths due to stress and tension which normal and average man ca' t take
In yoga it is said that the more you are close to the
nature, you are more healthy and happy, more you are away from her, you
are more sick, sad and unhealthy. Unfortunate part is that the man of
this age, instead of living close to the nature and harmonizing with
her, wants to conquer the Mother Nature and we can see the end-results
more pain, misery and unhappiness in human society. The unhealthiest
society! It is high time for us, as Yoga teachers, students and
practitioners to spread this message out. To bring the harmony and peace
in the society and create a healthy society for the next generation and
for the generations to come!