In yoga today, we take a small part of the about 10.000 year old philosophy, and make something big out of it, the physical practice of yoga. Throughout the west this part is the most popular and it is the first step into yoga for many people.
In the eastern culture yoga asana (posture) was seen as an inferior practice, the focus was on the spiritual part and the yogic practitioners even neglected or denied the body, the exact opposite of what is happening in the west.
When we do yoga asana without the spiritual aspects of yoga we create more ego, and our world doesn’t need more egocentric people. Instead we want more love and kindness in this world, right?
Through the ignorance of the body like in the east there was no real evolution and as the goal was to leave the body, the world stayed the same as all the enlightened masters left. Leaving the karmic wheel was the objective of the practitioner. Until Sri Aurobindo came along and through his extraordinary experiences presented the idea that enlightenment happens through the body, therefore cultivating this body, is bringing light into it, and enlightenment happens while we are here on earth. Good news, we are staying!!!😊
Today we need to bring the teachings of the east together with the trend of the west and allow yoga to become complete again. Alignment-based asana is one of the four petals of Purna Yoga.
Our teacher Aadil Palkhivala has been studying with the master of asana, BKS Iyengar, since he was 7 years old. Aadil has given us sequences and alignment in the poses adapted to our lifestyle today, so that we walk through life with ease and joy, meaning pain free. Aligning your asana is aligning life. By bringing awareness into the body we catch if something is off, with this awareness we start to recognize ourselves beyond the body. So that we can go back to why we are here and what our purpose is.
Having said that, asana has immense benefits on body and mind, to quote Aadil “Asana is totally unimportant, but it’s necessary”.
One of the greatest asana-sequences Aadil has developed is our Purna Yoga Hip Opening Series. Aadil understood that through moving the leg in all six different directions we gain greater mobility and by doing so relieving or preventing lower back issues and knee pain. Besides that, everything we find in the physical is reflecting the emotional body. When we don’t listen to the heart and our emotions, all the body can do is giving signals of pain so that it is heard. For example, tension or pain in the hips relate to suppression of emotions while the knees corelate to fear.
In terms of alignment when doing poses which are practiced in most systems of yoga, there is actually great hazard if not doing them right. Without clear knowledge of alignment, a teacher can do more harm than good. We need to know the benefits and effects of every pose we teach.
Here are only a few of the countless benefits of practicing asana: one becomes more grounded and better focused, the movements and postures stimulate the digestion and increase lung capacity, therefore the slower breathing lowers stress levels and creates a peace of mind. If you start practicing asana you increase your flexibility up to 35% after only 8 weeks. There are many more benefits in each pose and sequence and when done on a regular basis lead to a feeling of well-being in the overall self.
The practice of asana should not be done for the sake of it. Do it for the sake of evolution as this evolution happens inside ourselves to start with the body, through the mind, to feel the emotions and develop the spirit’s connection. Sri Aurobindo calls it The Evolution of Consciousness!
So, in the end it is through bringing the four petals together that the asana becomes a tool and not the purpose.
Even though most people come to meditation and a healthy lifestyle through yoga asana, for me it was the other way around. What was your catch?