taking pressure off asana mastery
We hear this over and over again, both as yoga students and teach it as yoga teachers; ”don’t worry where you are at, accept and allow, it is not about the pose” and so on.
Still at times, we do try to get into the poses, some times we push, some times we allow, some times we resist, some times we let go. After a while we know that pushing won’t give us anything good, but our minds still have a tendency to keep telling us we should have been further in our practice.
Our first yama to live by – Ahimsa
These thoughts about getting somewhere else then where we are right now can come and go. Our practice serves as a way to show us the patterns that are running our lives subconsciously. On the mat and in meditation we can get aware of them, now we have a choice to let them go and not let them run our yoga and life anymore.
This is where gentleness, Ahimsa, comes in. Now we practice from patience, love and focus. Now we are in our yoga zone. Either if you can’t reach your toes or if you sit in a perfect lotus pose and you are practicing with gentleness, ease and observation, then you are doing yoga for real.
Our second yama – Satya – Be true to your self
This mental pattern of getting somewhere can run our whole life, not just on the yoga mat, but also in how we connect with our work, how we look at our self and our bodies, and how we choose to engage in our relationships. In yoga and meditation we teach our minds to disengage from this negative thinking.
We teach our awareness to observe the breath and the body movements, when we meditate we learn to watch the thoughts, emotions and sensation move. We disengage from the superficial and engage with our deeper and truer nature. We get in touch with our true self and live a life aligned with our deeper values. From here we live our truth, we speak our truth and we learn to stop listening to the lies of the negative patterns in the mind.
The deeper meaning of asana
Asana is a Sanskrit word for seat – so we use it to describe the postures of the physical yoga we engage in. The deeper meaning of Asana is to be seated in the permanent part of our selves, to be seated in our unchanging nature, to be seated in our peaceful and aware self.
The true Lotus is within the heart of our higher self and not a pose we need to be doing in order to connect with the state of Samadhi. We can be aware of the still presence within in any pose, sitting, lying down, walking, cycling, swimming or running.
Our first niyama – Sauchi – Purity
We don’t even have to do any physical yoga to engage with an inner state of peace, purity and presence. We can easily find this through a meditation technique, when we rest in the silent presence within we realize that we are this pure presence within. We don’t have to do anything else to become what we already are; a perfect yoga pose is not a necessity to experience our inherent nature.
I still practice, love and teach physical yoga as I find that this practice supports my life and my meditation practice, it helps me keeping grounded and connected, it purifies my nervous system and makes my body healthy and relaxed. When my body is relaxed and strong, my mind has a tendency to slow down also.
Our second niyama – Samtosha – Be content here now
My thought patterns have historically been quite out of sync with ahimsa and I can thank meditation for getting out of that loop. Having a daily practice of meditation has brought more awareness into my life and my physical yoga practice. This has made my physical practice gentler, without competing with my self or anyone else.
Anytime I notice my mind going into wanting to be somewhere else in my practice or in my life, I now know it is just the chatter of the mind, it has nothing to do with the real me and I can disengage from this thinking as soon as I am aware of it. When I am content in my practice, it is nowhere to go, it is no desire for the next pose or the next breath, it is pure being here now.
When I engage my life like this, there is no striving for anything else, for the next expansion or the next high. In contentment it is an allowing of life to come towards me, an ease in letting go of what is not meant for me, and a natural openness to what is happening within me.
The deeper practice of yoga is to master our mind and not our yoga poses, the asanas are just a tool to show us where our stresses and fears are. And off course a fantastic way to stay healthy, strong and flexible.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu