Yoga poses are called asanas in Sanskrit. In the Himalayan Tradition as taught by Swami Veda, the purpose of asana is to prepare the body, breath and mind for meditation.
Gentle yoga classes are suitable for all levels and physical abilities. We systematically work with the body; releasing tension, building strength, bringing new vitality to joints and glands from head to toes. We do simple yoga poses and assimilate the energy from our practice through guided relaxation practice (shavasana).
The purpose of yoga poses is to gradually draw the attention from the more material parts of us to the finer ones. People are not essentially a physical configuration. We are a pattern of energy channels, shakti-nadis, along which our physical body has arranged itself like iron filings along magnetic force lines, like straw floating on currents, eddies, whirlpools. All that happens in the physical body is a manifestation of changes in the subtle body and in the energy channels.
Asana (poses) is the third limb of eight in classical Raja Yoga which includes meditation. Most movements are done slowly with constant self-observation. Muscles, skeleton, nerves, breath and mind are all coordinated and function together. Hatha yoga builds a bridge from the body to the deepest recesses of the mind which deal with geometry, form, memory and which send forth the commands to control the entire autonomic system.
Tense the forehead. Remain aware of the breath and how the mind is aware of the breath. Know that “I am aware of the breath” and that “I am aware of the tension that is taking place in the muscles”. See which of the finer muscles and tissues that you are not normally aware of, you now become aware of, and release.
This mindfulness is the starting point of being a witness, of being aware of the body from head to toe. One’s identification changes: an awareness of prana (energy, life force) and then the awareness of the mind as functioning in the physical body develops. Relaxation exercises done in the corpse posture enhances ones awareness of the mind in the body.
The perfection of the yoga posture is the perfection of a posture throughout life and that is an indication of where one’s mind is. The more steadiness we have in our minds, the more grace we will derive from there, and the more controlled and graceful our movement will become.
See Philosophy of Hatha Yoga for details.
Sample Practice in the Himalayan Tradition
Contact: Lynn Fraser [email protected]