What is asana, Why asana?
Asanas are positions to relax different parts of our body. There are specific asanas working on specific parts of our bodies- different bones, muscles, inner organs.
By observing the natural relaxation processes in animals around us, maybe Rishis thought “well, why does a cat stretch its back like that?” They imitated it, -and realized it was very relaxing for the back. That’s how ‘Marjariasana’ and many others might have come into existence.
A sedentary lifestyle would tell you how important exercise is. Due to all kinds of stresses that exist today, plus the emotional imbalances caused by these stresses..on top that, when we don’t move our bodies in any way, it becomes weak. All of these issues manifest as body pain.
This is so because there are blockages in the channels (Nadis) that provide energy (Prana) to us. We need to clean those blockages.
Why can’t people sit in Vajrasana the first time they try to? And 6 months later they can. (Also, conditions applied, if you don’t practice yoga regularly, those blockages rebuild). On doing regular practice, these blockages vanish and not only do our bodies become more flexible, stronger, fitter. The real wonder that yoga is, is the effect it has on our mind!
Asana transcends the body, breath, thoughts, and feelings…just like meditation.
And, A=B and B=A
Hence, the goal of Asana practice is to make Asanas meditative.
How do we transcend the exercise and make it an ‘Asana’?
For this to happen, First,
Sangwad Chhatwam– Moving together.
We become one with our surroundings… people and environment, while in the Asana.
Sthir Sukham Asanam– Stability and contentment in the asana.
We become one with our own body and breath.
-There are 3 stages here-
Beginner- Channelising energy into all the spaces of the body by relaxing the body in different positions. Correcting the posture, knowing proper alignment and body structure. (working on the body)
Intermediate- Syncing the breath with the body movement and relaxing in the posture. (body + breath)
Adept- Holding the posture and becoming comfortable in it. (body + breath + meditative mind= yoga)
Yoga Chitta Vritti Niroddha– Yoga removes the modulations of the mind.
We take our awareness on the thoughts gradually while in the posture.
With practice, thoughts start to lessen and we reach a meditative state during the asana.
-The key, here, is not to fight or be in conflict with thoughts, but to accept all of them, good or bad
During our asana practice, if we take all these sutras together- a moment of awareness towards every layer-environment/ body/ breath etc, it takes us deeper every time and our asanas become meditative. Yoga Happens!
Yoga starts permeating in our everyday lifestyle and life becomes no less than a miracle!