“One can achieve sound health, stability, lightness of body and mind with asana.”
A. Four Levels of Asana
- Poses that incorporate stability: maintaining the body in certain pose for longer durations to achieve stability in all muscles (stretched or relaxed).
- after stability comes comfort and ease in one’s ability to remain in a pose
- Relaxation: after much practice, a practitioner can begin to relax the muscles to obtain more stability and comfort in each asana.
- Relaxation in the body leads to relaxation in the mind: this is the highest level of asana, and involves cessation of the mind from the physical experience and goes into meditation.
- According to HYP one has maintained mastery of asana when they can hold a pose for 3 hours without discomfort.
B. Types of Asana
- Meditative: goal to stabilize the body for advanced practices of meditation and pranayama: padmasana, samasana, siddhasana, swastikasana, vajrasan
- For the improving of health: asanas effecting specific systems in the body therapeutically Matsyendrasana, spinal twist pose, is beneficial to the digestive system and pancreas and helps to improve insulin production and sarvangasana, shoulder stand, benefits the circulatory system through the reversal of blood flow, and the endocrine system—particularly the thyroid.
- Relaxation: poses that provide relief for both body and mind: prone position, savasana, makarasana
C. How to Practice
- Be reserved with your knowledge of yoga: “A yogi desirous of success should keep the knowledge of Hatha Yoga secret; for it becomes potent by concealing and impotent by exposing.” (1)
- A yogi should practice in a small, clean, insulated, space free of insects, distractions, and filth.
- failure in yoga: over eating, exertion, talkativeness, unsteadiness
- success in yoga: courage, daring, perseverance, discriminative knowledge, faith, aloofness from social company
D. Yamas: Rules of Conduct
- Ahimsa: non-violence and compassion for oneself and all living things
- Satya: commitment to truth
- Asteya: non stealing
- Brahmacharya: control of the senses and energetic output
- Aparigraha: neutralizing desire for wealth
- Saucha: cleanliness
- Santosa: contentment
- Tapas: heat, and becoming aware of your austerity and drive
- Svadhyaya: self-study and self-awareness
- Ishvara Pranidhara: surrender to God