Monday, January 9, 2012

The Asanas

Yoga asanas are postures that rebalance the body. They bring strength to the weak areas of the body; they bring softness to the tight spots.  They give you a workout, with the added bonus of a work-in.  Not only do they create space in the physical body, they offer a sense of psychic spaciousness.  By freeing up the outer body - the physical body, the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and  visceral organs - asanas build and control the prana, or vital force, of the body's subtle energies - energies that are finer and more subtle than those of the gross physical body that we can see.  Asanas are considered to purify and heal the body as well as those subtle energies.  Hatha yoga is great do-it-yourself preventive medicine.

The first thing people say to me when they discover I teach yoga is, "I'm not flexible enough for yoga." I often tell them, "That's why the rest of us do it!"  Don't let a stiff body be an excuse never to start yoga.  You should just start practicing from wherever you are right now.  Don't judge your practice by how far you can or can't stretch.  Never feel inadequate because you can't hold a pose for long, or because it doesn't perfectly mirror the pose in a picture.  Practice spreading your awareness through your whole body.  More than poise in your posture, seek grace in your breathing.  Just start the journey.  You never know where it might take you.

I use the term "edge" to describe the point at which the strong challenge comes into a pose and where you feel you have reached a new frontier.  It's the point between comfort and  discomfort, when you feel you have reached your limit.  You will find that this point varies from day to day.  You may notice your physical edge is different from your mental edge.  Be flexible and adjust your practice to honor both.  Move slowly as you approach your edge.  As you hover there, your body will eventually release and open and present you with a new edge.  Wait for your inner cue.  Don't rush like a bull at a gate - that would be disrespectful.  Be patient, and wait for your body to let you in.

Stay mentally present while you practice.  Let your mind become absorbed in your work and in the subtle sensations of your body.  Allow your practice to become a sort of conversation with your body.  Be reflective, be respectful, be responsive.

Source from The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown