YOGA ASANA : THE PHYSICAL PRACTICE
The ancients knew that although the body wears out, it serves as a vehicle for Self realisation and as such it has to be kept in good condition. The yogi masters the body and makes the body a fit vehicle for the spirit.
Asanas (the physical postures) purify the body and mind and have innumerable preventative and curative effects; catering to the various needs of the muscular, digestive, circulatory, glandular, nervous and other systems of the body. They cause changes at all levels from the physical to the spiritual. Health is a delicate balance of body, mind and spirit.
FRAMES OF MIND
There are different basic frameworks of mind that people bring to a class. One involves viewing a posture as an end to be achieved: how far we get in the posture is what counts. Another one views the posture as a tool to explore and open the body.
Why do some of us sometimes try so hard, or want to "get" a posture anyway? Maybe we feel we will be happier achieving something, but that's a flawed premise. When we get there, we may be satisfied momentarily but then there's something else we want to get and when does this end? Instead of using the body to "get” the posture, we can use the posture to get into the body.
The essence of yoga asana is how consciously we work with our limits, wherever and whatever they may be. If we "got" every pose or even got them all straight away, there wouldn't be any lessons to learn, nothing more to understand about ourselves, to grow from or develop. We can view our yoga practice as a journey, enjoying the unfolding. Wether we're in an arm balance or a seated posture, find the right place for you in the moment.
STHIRA & SUKHAM
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (the first systemised writing on yoga) teaches us: 2.46 Sthira-sukham asanam. (Asana: postures; sthira: stable; sukham: comfortable.) The physical practice – is stable and comfortable.
Patanjali’s only advice concerning asana is that helpful posture is steady and without strain. Being calm and soft, while strong and stable takes the practice to a deeper level, that of mindful meditation. A place where you open yourself to a feeling of inner peace amid the relative intensity of a pose.
To understand movement we must feel, not strain. To learn we need time, attention, and discrimination; to discriminate we must sense. This means that in order to learn we must sharpen our powers of sensing, and if we try to do most things by sheer force we shall achieve precisely the opposite of what we need. - Moshe Feldenkrais
Feldenkrais further states that - Physically, under the conditions of maximum effort or struggle, the student has already reached the limit of their capacity. At this point breathing is arrested; there is unnecessary effort, little ability to observe, and little prospect of improvement.
Loosen up a little, to deepen your practice. When we realise that what we really want we'll get, if we get out of our own way, we can start to practice with less effort, without needing to try and make things happen. Things will happen with consistent practice. Settle into the pose, enjoy the deliciousness of it, listen to what your body is saying, explore it, how are you breathing? where is your mind wandering, what’s underlying? what can you learn? what really matters?
The body is controlled by the mind: if the body is to be disciplined or mastered, then the mind must be disciplined or mastered. If one aspect of life can be disciplined, then there is no limit to anything in your life that can’t be mastered.
Everything we want comes from within, our deeper Self know's the best path to take us anywhere, if we just move past the chatter of our mind and get into the zone where clarity arises.
Thanks for reading feel free to share any thoughts.