Asana: Urdvha Mukha Svanasana
Today I wanted to talk a little about the postures in the practice of Yoga.
The postures, or Asanas (in Sanskrit), are one of the parts of the whole modern system of Yoga. They are born from the inventiveness of the ancient sages (rishis) of the region that is currently known as the Indian subcontinent, and the texts say that they were created with the purpose of helping the human being to improve his health to a great extent, to strengthen him to such an extent that other physical activities could not, to make his muscles more flexible, to improve his blood flow and to stimulate the organs and multiple glands that are distributed throughout his body.
The truth is that the list of benefits of performing postures is extensive.
The foundation of the sages for the realization of all this was that
Nobody would be thinking of enlightenment if they were in deplorable health and in meditation they would be thinking only of feeling better physically.
Earlier I said that it was a part of the modern system of Yoga, because the system that I practice, called Ashtanga Yoga means The eight branches of Yoga and refers to it being a system comprised of 8 stages or branches that lead its practitioner to the mental state of Yoga.
These eight branches are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi.
As you can see Asana is only one eighth of this system. But at least on this side of the world is where we started, it is the physical door to access this great remedy of the mind called Yoga.
This does not mean that performing Asanas is insignificant, on the contrary it is of great importance, because as the sages used to say, if they were not practiced, health would not improve and no one would want to sit for 3 hours of meditation if in the first 20 minutes our spine was slowly killing us and perhaps other parts of the body as well.
In my opinion, there's a lot more to this than just health in doing postures, but I would go a long way to explaining that today and could dedicate it to a next post.
In Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras, which are a modern-day theoretical foundation for the system of Yoga, Patanjali only talks about Asanas on three brief occasions, and not about a specific posture but in the most generic way possible. He indicates:
The Asana must be firm and comfortable.
Firmness to give stability to the mind and comfort so that it is not disturbed by the difficulties of practice.
This is not determined by how the posture is viewed, but rather by how the posture is BREATHED.
It could be said that these two qualities of an Asana are the mental attitude that we should cultivate when performing the postures.
If the breath is choppy, there is no firmness. Or if it is agitated, there is no comfort.
Among the many important benefits derived from this practice, here I share some:
It makes the body perfectly healthy and resistant to fatigue and stress.
It enables you to practice extension and control over the life energy (prana) through pranayama, as a result of regulating the pranic currents. The breathing rhythm gradually conforms to the requirements of the following techniques to be studied.
Develops the power of the will. There is a direct relationship between the physical body and Atma (individual manifestation of the divine). The control that is acquired over the physical body by mastering an Asana, attracts an extraordinary influence of that spiritual force that is expressed in the external life as will power.
In addition to all this, we have the strengthening of bones, musculature, increased lung capacity, better blood supply, flexibility of the whole body, increased oxygenation of cells, purification of organs and skin, regulation of the activity of the nervous system (balance between the SNS and PNS), and a large number of other benefits.
Because of all this and the possibility of achieving mental tranquility, a significant decrease in stress, clarity of vision and thought, increased ability to respond to life situations in a beneficial way and more; I extend the invitation today to try to start with a regular practice of Yoga suitable for your possibilities.
Led by the right people, it can be the start of a journey that will amaze you.
Thank you very much for reading me.
I am Julio Cesar Arvelo, practitioner and teacher of Ashtanga Yoga and Meditation.
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