The Sanskrit word Asana means seat. From Pantanjali, it has been referred to as the seated position for meditation. With the emergence of Hatha yoga, Asana has come to mean many postures.
The Big Difference
The essence of yoga is to free the monkey mind, find stillness and serenity, while finding your bliss. Asana, originally provided the grounding through a comfortable seated position. At the same time it seems that there is a gap. If the body is not a healthy container to provide this seat, then the practice of meditation is seriously distracted. So over time practitioners of yoga have added to the seated posture with other postures to improve the health of the body.
Unlike fitness or other types of exercise, the yoga asana is grounded in a philosophy of many different aspects of the body's health. They include:
Adding to these basics, yoga asanas integrates far more, including:
Different from a fitness routine, yoga asanas engage the whole body. All postures that involve one side of the body are repeated on the other. Most sequences involve stretching and strengthening all muscle groups.There a hundreds of yoga asanas. Each one challenges the body in a different way.
Finding Your Edge
Yoga asana is not about the flexible yogini on the cover of Yoga Journal.
It is about the relationship to yourself and where your body is now. We are all built differently and very few of us are ever going to be on the covers of a magazine. Our journey is to simply discover where we are and move our bodies to another level of strength, flexibility, awareness and integration.
I like to define the edge as that state between comfort and discomfort. If a posture feels painful, you are over the edge. If you feel nothing, you are not working.
Yoga injuries occur mostly from pushing beyond what the body can do at that point in time. So be mindful of your practice and just because the person next to you can do it, itdoes not mean you can.Here are some tips:
- If you feel pain, stop.
- Keep micro bends in the elbows and knee joints when you support your weight through them.
- Be sure the muscle group you are working with is sufficiently warmed up.
- Breathe. Oxygen to the muscles keeps them working effectively.
- Take breaks to integrate what you have completed. Child's pose or corpse pose are always available to you.
Asana to Bliss
When doing slow yoga, you have the opportunity to make each posture a meditation. Take the time to breath and concentrate on your form and what every part of your body is doing. Then let it go.