According to Hindu myth, gods ride on birds. Many yoga poses are inspired by birds, Pigeon, Eagle, Peacock, Swan, Crane, Heron, Rooster, and Partridge.
The swan is the vehicle of the creator god Brahma. Her name (hamsa, more accurately rendered as “wild goose”) conceals a profound teaching in the powerful mantra, soham, which translates as “This am I.” This phrase acknowledges the individual’s aspiration to merge with the universe and sums up the basic meaning of Hindu texts that form the basis of India’s most influential philosophy, Vedanta. All the disparate selves are ultimately one big Self, which is the essence of everything that exists.
The next time you are practicing one of these poses, imagine flying away at the height of the pose like a messenger of the gods and merging with the universe.