Before we can know the soul, we must be able to observe physical reality.
Today we practiced concentrating on an intricate part of the big toe, in many postures, including Mūlabandhāsana, shown above, which was fixing the defect of left foot (and more) that you can see in this photograph.
Who would notice otherwise this apparently mundane detail of the big toe that our teacher, Mr Manouso Manos, directed our concentration upon in many poses repeatedly?
Many of the old books advise concentration and awareness of prana or energy at different vital points of the body— including the big toe. It was remarkable to experience the blissful alignments that came as a result.
There aren’t promised rewards for this, he doesn’t tell us what it will do for us—as a masterful teacher he creates an environment of focused attention in which it is possible for us discover it for ourselves. At one point after several standing poses, a fellow student (an older woman with many serious lower body problems) whispered to me in amazement, “how is it that this one thing can fix everything?” It was true. I was having the same experience.
While relief from our body pains and imbalances may come with skillful practice, its not the aim of yoga. It’s often that we need to be reminded that Yoga is the state of union with the soul, or the stopping of the fluctuations of consciousness that distort the mind from the clear experience of our deep connectedness with All. The training of the mind with the body is this miraculous gateway where we can learn to observe reality without getting distorted. By having a focal point to press its possible to keep seeing: is it pressing? Is it pressing now? How about now? And in this situation how is it? When one pointed awareness can lead to freedom of the body and freedom of the mind... bliss...