ASANA – the third limb of yoga, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is is the most popular and in many ways the reason why yoga has gotten to be so popular in the West. It also is the one I found to be most difficult to write about, perhaps because is so close to my heart – One of my teachers has a very famous say ” Yoga is 99% Practice and 1% Theory” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Asana is the most tangible of the eight limbs. It is a quick gateway to the other seven limbs of yoga. In this plane we exist in a physical form. Through our body temple we have access to the subtle body. Asana practice gives us an opportunity of Self expression, assists in detoxification and cleansing, relaxes our entire system, re-centers, and grounds, re-aligns the spine, relieves stress, promoted health and digestion, enhances the lymphatic system and calms the mind in preparation for different levels of meditation and deeper Spiritual practice. Asana is a tangible way to access the subtle body. The yoga mat and asana practice serves as a mirror to where we stand and how we feel each and everyday – creating a deeper level of Self awareness. Our physical body is the vehicle through which we explore the gift of life, giving us the opportunity of transformation and Self realization. There are only 3 sutras, which mentions asana, within the 196 sutras of Patanjali. The most famous is Sthira-sukham asanam – The basis of Asana is to achieve a state of steadiness and ease during practice, embracing the polarities – or a yoga posture is to be stable, steady and firm, yet also relaxed, comfortable, and delightful!
As we work strength and flexibility – asana asks us to bring attention to areas which are weak, it regulates our prana – life force and it opens our channels for deeper levels of transformation. It is not a way to create more stress in the body. It requires discipline and steady commitment.
The word discipline derives from the word disciple : suggesting devotion and commitment as a way to a higher path.
It does not involve competition but a means of commitment, not only to a better, healthier life for ourselves, but for our Planet with un understanding that we are all one and that by enhancing our lives we enhance the lives of others around us.
Asana practice keeps us grounded, connected and humble, assisting us to live in truth with each and every moment.
Promoting a healthy life long practice so we can sit for longer periods of time in meditation, preparing us for deeper spiritual work, even if and when, our physical body begins to fail us. Yoga Asana practice has meant many different things to me. I have been practicing postures since my early teens and meditating for even longer – Today I am mostly concerned with having a genuine – ego free – practice. Connecting with who I am and where I am at each and every day in Satya (Truth). What I strive for on the yoga mat, is that my practice, in the most genuine way promotes a health body, mind and Spirit, cultivating the flow, “prana”, life force and evolution of my Soul.
This is as well, what I am committed to transmit to my students, and their overall wellbeing. At times my philosophy of teaching and method does not make for the most popular yoga teacher, for the practice I offer is non’ flashy and many times not offering what we want (even on the mat), but we get what we need. This may come in a form of a yoga sequence (which at this moment has been revealed to me), always on the basis of well informed technique, but never closing the channels for divine source to come through. I follow my inner guide, connecting with my Higher Self through each practice and each teaching session – I simply serve as a channel of light to those in my room. Allowing divine source to come through. I firmly believe that the energy of Source – Prana – is highly intelligent and it always goes exactly where it is intended and it is needed. The yoga teacher serves as a catalyst. Each day I enter a yoga session, I am happy and grateful I get to do this work. It is my hope that my students navigate through their ups and downs in life in a state of more equanimity, that their practice serves to inform them in the highest vibrational way and that throughout this process they find not only equilibrium, peace and happiness, but also joy.