Tag Archive: prasad

Prasad (and Opening to Grace)

During one of the sessions at the workshop last weekend in New Jersey, John Friend made a passing reference to the difference between receiving and taking.  He did not go into any detail because it was not central to the theme of the class, but it led me to contemplate on my own about the difference between taking and giving in the context of yoga practice.  In so doing, I thought about the concept of prasad — which is food that has been blessed and is offered to those who have participated in worship (puja).

When offered prasad, one does not take it.  Instead, the cupped palm is turned up to receive the prasad.  The recipient does not get to pick through the basket and choose which sweet looks the biggest or the tastiest, but simply receives with gratitude the sweet or fruit that is infused with the intention of spirit.  The active part is the showing up with openness and receptivity to the offering, the blessing, the nourishment being offered.

Coming to yoga class or doing our own practice (asana or meditation) should be, I think, like preparing to receive prasad.  What is primary in the practice of Anusara yoga is being open to grace, but we can no more force openings or enlightenment (grace and insight always elude grasping),  than forcing any particular physical posture or goal really yoga practice.  The point of effort in yoga to improve and expand alignment and knowledge is to enable the practitioner to receive more fully all the potential gifts and grace of practice, and then in turn make fuller and more complete offerings to others.

Below:  offerings at the Chelsea Farmers’ Market


Sunchokes (and Anusara “first principle”) (a bit out of date, but not really)

I realize that this blog entry was in my drafts page; I never hit the publish button.  As I ponder the few intervening weeks of snow (in some ways it feels as if time just stopped, except for the work that piled up and the lengthening of the light of day), I treat this as a reminder to myself to come back to “first principle” to respond with the most light — even in this unusually harsh winter:

On my way to Friends Meeting yesterday, I stopped at the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market yesterday to buy whatever was fresh.  When I got in line with a daikon radish, a bunch of turnips, and a couple of leeks, I noticed the way the woman in front of me in line was holding her selection:  sunchokes.  Her hands were held as if she had just received prasad — the offering sometimes made after a puja so that the fruits of worship may actually be tasted and injested, incorporated with our senses and our whole bodies into our being.  “Your hands and those sunchokes are so beautiful,” I said, “may I take a picture and use it for my blog?”  “Sure,” she replied, “and shifted her hands a little so that it would be easier for me to frame the picture.”  We talked while we waited in line about potential ways to cook sunchokes and how happy we were that the farmers (these particular farmers’ must be incredibly good at working with cold frames) were out all year.

Seeing this offering of the earth itself, the farmers who tended the earth and grew the vegetables, the workers who made and repaired the vehicles that enabled the food to be brought into the city, the city and neighborhood for allowing the market to block off a street, the shoppers for supporting it, brought me back to my contemplations this week of what “first principle” means to me.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my focus for winter classes would be Anusara sequencing principles.  No matter what else we are doing or focusing on, it always starts with “first principle.”  The “first principle” is what we call in Anusara “opening to grace.”  For me, a large part of “opening to grace” is a recognition that all the nourishment we receive is a gift.  When we practice such a recognition, then we practice receptivity, openness, gratitude, courtesy, respect, delicacy, and reciprocal desire to serve and make offering.  How could one mindfully receive nourishment such as this fresh, beautiful food on a bitterly cold winter day, and not want to celebrate it by giving thanks, nurturing the earth, supporting the farmers and the market, learning how to prepare it as tasty and healthful as possible, and share it and other things with those around us?