Here’s what I love about yoga asana: Practiced with awareness (emphasis on awareness!), the postures offer a return to an appreciation of the body and a means to connect to the wisdom held therein. Asana can be a vehicle for building more strength, mobility and ease in the body. It is also a vehicle for accessing transformation beyond the physical form.
What kind of transformation? The kind that allows you to be more present for your life. Maybe you’ve had the experience of being physically in a space while your mind was entirely preoccupied elsewhere. Asana practice provides an opportunity to notice this separation and to invite the mind to rest in the body. In this sense, asana is a practice that extends beyond your yoga mat or meditation cushion.
Asana is defined in the Yoga Sutra as the posture that is steady and comfortable. Do you know what steady feels like? How do you experience stillness? How do you respond mentally and physically to discomfort? What is your relationship to ease and effortlessness?
If your asana practice has not provided the opportunity to become curious about and explore these questions, here are some things you can try the next time you practice:
-Change your momentum; stay in a pose for several breaths
-Notice the quality of your breath
-Scan the body for areas of tension or unnecessary holding
-Observe the subtle movements of your body in response to the breath
-Notice how your mind responds to holding the pose: Do thoughts speed up or slow down? Do you check out? Does the mind have a resting place in the body?
Journal your reflections and see what asana has to teach you about you.
Below you will find a recording I’ve made of a Body Scan Practice. You can use it to delve further into this mindful inquiry.