Good day to all you Fruity friends! I hope your weeks is off to an amazing start!
Today I wanted to share with you what asana (yoga posture) means to me. There is much to learn when you embark on the path of yoga, and posture is only one tiny part of that. But I feel it is important none the less! So here are my thoughts;
There are as many expressions of the yoga path as there are people. From the yoga of action (karma yoga) to the yoga of intellect (Jnana yoga), there is truly a style of yoga to suit every person. Here in the West, I think it is safe to say that one of the most commonly practiced elements of yoga has to be asana. You can throw a rock in any direction here in Vancouver and you would be lucky not to hit a yoga studio. I know that some people feel that with asanas new surge of popularity, we are loosing much of the more spiritual, mental and emotional aspects of the yoga practice. I tend to disagree with this statement.
For me, asana practice is our connection. Asana connects our minds to our bodies, and to our breaths. Most of us are moving through life so fast, that we have lost these sacred connections to ourselves. It has been written many times, that our breath is the physical representation of our spirit, or our soul. The breath is what leaves our bodies last as we die, and is the one thing that all living things have in common. To connect to our breath, is to connect to a deeper part of ourselves. For most, simply coming to a steady seat to practice pranayama,(breath control exercises) to connect with their breath and their divinity, is an impossible task. This is where I feel the practice of asana comes in.
By coming to the mat to practice asana, we force ourselves to slow down. We then can take notice of the stiffness in our hips, the dull or not so dull ache in our lower backs. This may give way to noticing that we are clenching our jaws, and that maybe our breath is short and static. Asana practice is a completely unique form of physical discipline, because as we are actively moving our bodies, we are also actively training the mind to focus. We are subtly being taught how to focus on our breath, and on our bodies, which is where our divinity is held. It is my belief that the body holds an amazing amount of wisdom and information. I believe that by practicing asana we can start to tap into this wisdom. Asana provides an active place to practice pranayama, as well as acting as a preparation for the more static forms. Pranayama then give way to meditation, and true connection with our own divine.
I started my yoga practice with an asana practice. It has since progressed and given way to more of the spiritual and mental elements, but I would not consider those elements any more important than asana. Asana practice connects me with the earth. It connects me with myself. Asana slows me down long enough to read my own body signals, and to tap into my own intuition. Asana is my gateway into the spiritual.
I feel that the more people who start an asana practice the better. I believe that asana practice will have a positive effect on everyone who gives it a try. People may not be coming to asana for any spiritual purpose, and that is ok. I believe that asana is so entrenched in spiritual wisdom and history, that anyone who practices will feel the effects one way or other. Connecting to our bodies is never a bad thing. Asana is a connection, a bridge, a gateway. I will practice asana for the rest of my days, and I know I will be better off for it. If they are able, I think that asana should be a part of everyone’s practice of yoga.
Do you practice asana? Or do you practice any other forms of yoga? What is your take?