Asana (Physical Posture) Practice in Yoga

Most people think of Yoga as a set of physical postures or poses and movements that stretch and strengthen the body.  This practice, often referred to by the Sanskrti word "Asana", is an important practice in some Yoga traditions, particularly in Hatha Yoga.  But Yoga is much more than Asana and Asana is much more body poses.

In the classic "Yoga Sutras", the sage Patanjali defines Asana is Sutra 2.46:

"Sthira sukham asanam"--The physical posture and the mental, emotional and spiritual energy with which the yogi sits should be simultaneously firm and constant while easeful and released.

Yogi Steven in "Bound Warrior" pose

Yogi Steven in "Bound Warrior" pose

In its most literal translation, "Asana" actually refers to that upon which the Yogi sits.  It means "the seat" and so refers to the characteristics of what the Yogi sits upon in his own form as well as the place in and from which the Yogi sits energetically.  This essential interpretation carries through into the English "pose" or "posture", which in addition to connoting a physical stance also indicates a mental, emotional and spiritual attitude.

So Asana practice involves the energy that informs the pose, posture or movement.  In fact, it is the cultivation and expression of the underlying energetic basis that is the essential purpose of the physical form.  

The primary aim and effect of true Asana practice is an energetic condition of easeful constancy conducive to the rising and cultivation of Enlightenment or Awakening.

Enlightenment is frequently conceptualized as a condition of mind, but it is better understood and experienced as an energetic condition.  Cessation of uninvited mental activities (nirodha) is an effect of activation of the Spiritual Energy Body.  When the flow of spiritual energy becomes stable and constant as well as effortless and natural, the mind automatically comes to singleness. 

Activation and cultivation of the Spiritual Energy Body can be facilitated through Asana practice.  Manipulation of the physical matter of the body and the development of intrabody connectivity along  the muscular and neurological kinetic chains penetrates to the level of the subtle energy body, stimulating the formation of chakras (energy centers), nadis (energy channels) and vayus (energy flows or tides).  It assists the "depatterning" process by which ingrained repetitive,  habitual, addictive traits are disrupted and dissolved, freeing the flow of these energies.

When I teach Asana practice, it foremost is a tool for the development of the Spiritual Energy Body.  All other benefits flow naturally from spiritual source energy.

Secondary and accompanying effects of Asana practice will include overall good health, increased longevity, optimization of physical functioning, emotional release, stress manangement and a beautiful appearance.

Yoga Asana Forms—Purpose and Function

  1.  Conscious cultivation and expression of essential energetic qualities that stimulate and develop the activation and formation of the Spiritual Energy Body.
  2. Development of:
    1. Surrender to the Divine (Ishwara Pranidhana, Sharanam, Bhakti, Prapatti)
    2. Tapasya (spiritual heat, passion for the Divine)
    3.  Awareness of the Shakti (Divine Power) and its energy centers (chakras), energy flows (vayus) and energy channels (nadis)
    4. Awareness of the layers of being (koshas)
    5. Orientation towards inner spiritual life (pratyahara)
    6. focus and concentration (dharana)
    7. mind/body connectivity and awareness
  3. Disruption, destabilization, displacement and disentanglement of the psychospiritual neurological patternings (samskaras, vasanas) that have been established through life in the physical body (and in the other layers of being) which are manifest in habits, patterns and addictions and which block and deter spiritual development.
  4. Release of current mental and emotional tension
  5. Realignment, activation and connectivity of the functional kinetic chains which run through the body
  6.  Healing and strengthening of current and past physical trauma
  7. Stimulation of the organ systems of the body leading to optimized, healthy function
  8. General physical, emotional and mental well being
  9. An attractive and healthful physical appearance

When you learn yoga asana forms with me, you will learn to use them as a tool of your overall spiritual development while simultaneously reaping the benefits of health, relaxation, beauty and general well-being.

The energy of Surrender is a key component throughout the yogic process.  Asana practice is an excellent tool for cultivating Surrender to the Divine.  Adopting and maintaining an attitude of equipoise when confronted with difficulty and challenge

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