Yoga and Asana

One of the meanings of Yoga is the unification of mind and body. In recent days and in most yoga classes, what we practice the most is probably physical posture, Asana, and often we are confusing Asana with Yoga itself. In Ashtanga or Raja yoga, there are 8 limbs of yoga, and Asana is only one part of these 8 limbs! It is said that through practicing those 8 limbs of yoga, we could reach the status of superconscious, Samadhi, not only by practicing Asana!

 

Then what is the purpose of practicing Asanas? As it is physical exercise, this could bring our consciousness to our body and balance our body and mind. To practice Asana, we require flexibility, strength, stamina. If one of these are lacking, our body might lose control of our steadiness and and as a result lose control of our mind. Also, Asana practicing is not all about strengthening our physical part but also removing our mind games and keeping our mind calm. At the same time, when our body is not in proper alignment, our body might feel discomfortness and possibly cause our mind to fluctuate. So, practicing Asanas in  proper alignment plays an important role.

 

While we practice Asana, some small things for proper alignment will improve our Asana quality. For example, checking something like squaring your hips, bending one side of your knee 90 degrees and grounding the other side of your foot, tucking in your tailbone and lengthening the spine in Virabhadrasana(Warrior) 1 will make you a fierce warrior. Or in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog), push your shoulders away from your ears (don’t elevate your shoulder!), lift up your thighs and knees from the floor, push your chest forward, pressing your hands into the mat to lift up your body, and lifting up your eyes will nicely stretch the front side of your body and reduce unnecessary strength in your shoulder. Does this sound like there are lots of things to check..? But every time you practice, just try to adjust one point at a time. In the end, I’m sure this will make a huge difference!

 

Practicing Asana in proper alignment could improve our breathing efficiency as well. When our spine is in an uncomfortable position, I do not think we can breathe comfortable, meaning we are not able to create inner body energy efficiently. Proper alignment in Asana also prevents injuries. Of course, depending on our body structure, we might feel discomfortness in our body even in the correct alignment so in this case it is better to check with your instructor!

 

Hyunjoo

200Hr YTT Weekend Sep 2015

 

Reference

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/do-this-not-that-upward-facing-dog-pose/#0