Brahma, the creator. Vishnu, the preserver. Shiva, the destroyer. If this is clear for you, then you’re good to go for what comes next. Together, these three gods form what is called the Hindu Trimurti. You may have heard those names quite a few times, but the one that echoes the most is, undoubtedly, that of Shiva, right? And why is that?
Shiva, the Lord of Yoga
Shiva, the warrior, the dancer, the destroyer, the tamer of animals, etc. Shiva has taken many shapes, and is mentioned in many myths. But among all, Shiva is known to be a yogi. Interestingly, he is the only god to practice yoga. Therefore, Shiva rules over the aspects related to the body, mind, and consciousness. That is partly why there seems to be such a strong connection between yoga practitioners and Shiva. Shiva is often drawn meditating on Mount Kailash’s tops, the home he shares with Parvati (Shakti), his wife.
Shiva, the God Who Taught Yoga to Men
The legend tells that after his marriage to Parvati, Shiva introduced her to yoga, teaching her 84 asanas. By then, the art of yoga was not to be taught to mortals. Shiva took Parvati to an isolated island to reveal all the secrets of yoga. He didn’t want these secrets to be heard by anyone else. As Shiva was teaching Parvati, the story says a fish stood there, listening to everything. When Shiva figured out they weren’t alone, he threw some water at the fish, which turned into a human form: Matsyendra. Some tales say Shiva rewarded the fish, turning him into a human. Others tell that Matsyendra was in the fish’s belly. Nevertheless, this is how the knowledge of yoga passed from gods to men. Matsyendra o Matsyendranath is known to be the first yogi and the lord of the fishes.
Did you know that this yoga pose refers to this story?
This pose is called Ardha Matsyasana or Ardha Matsyendrasana, Half-Spinal Twist. So now you’ll know the story next time you do it 😉
Want to learn more stories and more poses?