The eight limbs of yoga – Asana

Posted by Nisey on July 1, 2015 in Blog |No Comments

Asana (pronounced Us-Nuh) is one of the aspects of the eight limbs of yoga that we in the West are the most familiar with. Asana refers to the postures or movements of yoga.

In the West we have been introduced to yoga mostly through Asana and Pranayama. Asana is the foundation of a yogic lifestyle, it prepares our body for meditation and allows us to reconnect on on intimate level with ourselves. For hundreds of years now we have been taught to be ashamed and dissatisfied with our physical bodies the result is that we either find ourselves on one of these extremes of self loathing or obsession with the body. The main purpose of Asana is to build strength and stamina in the body to allow us to meditate for extended periods. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras emphasises that Asana should steady and comfortable. We should not force the body into postures it does not want to naturally assume. There should be no stress during asana. Sadly many schools of yoga have become focussed on the perfection of the Asana rather than focussing on the fact that asana serves build the solid foundation for meditation.

Social media has also resulted in the yoga selfie being posted on FB and Instagram and that really isn’t what its about at all. Your practice is a beautiful and personal time for you and though it is lovely to share from time to time its important to acknowledge the true purpose of Asana.

Yoga teaches us that our bodies are vehicles for our earthly selves that need to be respected, nourished and maintained. Much like your car.

We take our cars for regular services.

We refuel with the correct fuel.

We take care of them careful to avoid damage.

We ensure the vehicle is in regular use.

If we treated our bodies the same way we treat our cars we would all be much healthier.

We take our cars for regular services.
Regular services for the body could be different things to different people. Regular massage or body work, regular check ups with your doctor, regular excercise, regular down time, a trip to the beauty salon or hairdresser. For each person this would look different according to your beliefs or what you are comfortable with but it cannot be ignored that the body needs regular maintenance.

We refuel with the correct fuel.
We wouldn’t dare put diesel into a petrol tank would we? We know that the damage would be devastating to our vehicles and may even be permanent. Yet, we are quite happy to fill our bodies with chemicals which we know cause sluggishness, exhaustion and disease, and this is only our food. When we look at the environmental toxins we are exposed to daily as well as the use of drugs and alcohol it is horrifying what we find acceptable for our bodies and wouldn’t dare to do with our vehicles.

We take care of them careful to avoid damage.
We look carefully when reversing so as to ensure no damage to our vehicles. We become upset if it is damaged in some way and yet with the human body we are prepared to abuse it through over-excercise, stress and general disregard for our health. If we treated our vehicles the way we treat our bodies we would need to replace them every few months.

We ensure the vehicle is in regular use.
When we’ve been away for an extended period, on our return we find it takes a while for the vehicle to get going again. The vehicle needs regular use. So too does the body. Asana moves the body building strength and integrity but many other forms of excercise are good for the body too. Walking, running, swimming, pilates whatever movement your enjoy… do it!

In conclusion lets try and treat our bodies as if they were our cars. Treat them like the expensive assets that they are, unlike our cars we can’t just buy a new body when this one becomes damaged by neglect and abuse.

Sat Nam xxx

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