WHEN I was in grade school, I was a gymnast. It was my first experience to be exposed to a large crowd and in competitions at a very young age. During those days, I did a lot of bending, splits, cartwheels, balancing and stability exercises to deliver precision to all movements. For one wrong turn can land me to injury and pain. It was a physically and mentally demanding sport, requiring strong self-imposed discipline.
In high school and college, I was a member of the school dance troupe called Maharlika. We were taught different kinds of dances, from ballet, jazz, modern, folk and cultural, contemporary, which again required a lot of discipline and challenges to the body. While my schoolmates were enjoying their “lakwatsa” after school, I was in the rehearsal room dancing.
My background helped me tremendously when I was first introduced to yoga asanas.
The body is my church, the sanctuary of my mind, the oasis of my heart, the haven of my spirit. – RSL
Asanas is the third, in the eight limbs of yoga, which means body postures or poses. When people consider yoga, they usually think of asanas. A physical activity that promotes weight loss, slim toned body, youthfuland glowing skin. Albeit these are all true, the purpose of asanas is more profound in the true sense of yoga.
Asanas are mind-body integration expressions. A dialogue between the body and your breath (energy), working and supporting each other while gliding to each pose.
It is an intimate dance in the silence of the conscious and unconscious, feeling every movement of life energy in your body up to your smallest cell, as you transit from one execution to another.
From the outside, yoga postures look like just physical forms, but not to the one who is in the pose. For there are other faculties involved: pranayama (breathwork), drishti (gaze focus), bandhas (muscle locks), mudras (hand gestures), balancing, strength, agility, and tapas (mind control) to maintain stillness in asanas.
Asanas strengthen muscles and joints, improvebalance, raise confidence, upgrade alignment, magnifyendurance and intensify flexibility.
As your body becomes flexible, your emotion and mind flexibility follow suit. It prepares you to adapt comfortably to existence’s inevitable changes and challenges. An exemplary comforting practice that can protect your sanity from being snatched away by different unpredictable grueling catastrophes in life.
Generally, asanas taught in typical yoga classes are well studied by yoga teachers, considering the student’s level of experience and competency.
Yoga moves highlight the essence of balance. Each pose has a counter pose, to neutralize and to empower equality: for instance, if you do a bhujangasana (cobra pose), balasana (child pose) should come after; if you perform the parshva urdhva hastasana (standing side bend) to the left, you should do the same to the right. If you execute sarvangasana (shoulder stands), you should counter it with matsyasana (fish pose). In short, all body parts and poses should have equal attention to sustain the smooth flow of prana (life force), to prevent any muscle tension and pains. After all, yoga is for healing, it should not be the cause of sickness.
Each posture awakens a unique facet of the journey to self-discovery: The truth is one, the pathways are many and each posture opens a different pathway to the Self.
As your body opens-up itself to its full possibilities, allowing its natural course to take place, the heart of your emotion synchronizes with it. Awakening the eyes of love that sees only through the feel, the only impression that you can trust, when the mind is misled and lost.
People say that love is blind, because they do not know what love is. I say unto you, only love has eyes. Other than that, everything is blind. – Osho
Mentally, asanas cultivate clarity, stability, alertness, focus, openness and mindfulness. As you perform a steady pose, you discover the capacity and capability of each part of your body and those that need more of your attention. It is a feeling of getting to know your physicality for the first time.
It makes you acknowledge that a mind-body-heart unification and a consistent practice is of essence, to advance your level in yoga asanas. A valuable approach that you could implement to progress in all that you do.
Years ago, a yoga student of mine attended my classes religiously only for one reason, she wanted to touch her toes without bending her knees, standing. As she perseveringly continued her practice, she became a yoga teacher herself, doing advance challenging poses like the sirsasana (head stand), adho mukha vrksasana (handstand), vrischikasana (scorpion), bakasana (crow pose), to name a few.
As you master to focus your mind single pointedly in your every stance and routine, expect the inner peace that you have been yearning for to arrive and take over. A state of lightness and calmness invades your space, making transitions to poses effortless and relaxed. Quiet serenading the poser, a meditation in action takes place.