asana

Mindful Monday: Asanas or Yoga Poses

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Happy Monday, yogi friends! As we settle back in after our holiday last week, let’s continue our study of Ashtanga or the Eight-Limbed Path of Yoga as expressed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In previous weeks, we’ve discussed the first two limbs: the Yamas or the guidelines for social behavior and the Niyamas which refer to how we discipline ourselves. So now we move on to our third limb: the asanas or the yoga poses that we practice together at YBD.

The first two limbs prepare us to more fully inhabit this human body through our asanas. The postures that we practice are designed to develop discipline, focus and concentration in order to prepare us, the yoga practitioner, to sit with ease in meditation. The root of the word asana is “as” which means to sit. This is such an important point; the postures practiced in yoga, comprise the third of eight limbs, which factors out to a mere 12.5 percent of our complete practice. In the yogic view, the body is a temple of spirit, and the proper caring of it is an important stage of our spiritual growth. Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation (and life!).

The eight limbs are not necessarily developed in a linear fashion. Indeed, I spent the first eight years of my yoga practice firmly mired in the pursuit of the third limb with the other limbs much less developed. This is a common dilemma that we may find ourselves in- which is ok! The entry point of our practice is just that – how we enter into this lifelong practice. Like life, it evolves and transforms with its own natural rhythm.

There is so much focus on the physical portion of our practice, mainly because it appears to be a tangible. But we really cannot actually SEE yoga – we FEEL it. The only alignment instruction Patanjali gives for the Asana is “sthira sukham asanam”, the posture should be steady and comfortable. The next time you are in class, observe yourself:  are you gritting your teeth and tensing in order to find a more advanced variation of a pose? What if you pulled back and focused on calm, steady breathing?

While the asanas are only a small percentage of our complete yoga practice, let’s not forget they are a really fun part of it as well! Have a great week, yogis! Breathe, sweat and smile, my friends!

OCTOBER POSE OF THE MONTH: CORPSE POSE

Corpse Pose, Savasana

October is here and with it a crispness to the air and the beginning of the holiday season! As the days get shorter and our schedules busier, it’s important to remember to take time for self-care. Which leads us to The Pose of the Month! Corpse pose is the culmination of your practice, and represents an opportunity to start fresh after each and every practice.

Here’s how to enjoy your Savasana:

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs relaxed by your sides
  • As you unwind, allow your feet and hands to softly fall open
  • Soften around your eyes and relax your jaw
  • Allow your breath to become natural
  • Rest in the warm embrace of your practice

Benefits include:

  • Relieves stress and mild depression
  • Allows your body to relax
  • Helps alleviate migraines, fatigue and insomnia

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse