Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Third Limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: Asana (Posture).

Dear brothers & sisters, yoga asana may look easy - indeed, a good, seasoned practitioner of *any* activity, be it art, dance, sport, writing etc., would make their chosen activity look uber easy.
& just like any other thing, to train the body in yoga asana requires consistency, patience & time.
It is not a competition. Asana is merely the third limb of yoga, & can never be used as a benchmark as to how spiritually evolved a yogi is.
In reality, the function of asana is to bring the physical body to optimum health, before a yogi can proceed with the other more intricate limbs of yoga.
Please do not harm your body for a fleeting moment of satisfaction. All good things take time.
Keep practising!

After just slightly more than two weeks of constantly uploading asana photos to my Instagram, I am beginning to tire of it.

What am I trying to prove to everyone? What am I trying to prove to myself? By shifting my focus onto advancing in asana, the rest of my yogic practice came to a standstill.

Yoga in its essence is a highly spiritual practice. According to Patanjali (the author of The Yoga Sutras, & who is also regarded as the father of modern day yoga), there are a total of eight limbs that have to be practised in order for one to achieve Samadhi (enlightenment, oneness with everything):

1. Yamas (Moral Restraints): Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya, Aparigraha.
2. Niyamas (Observances): Sauca, Santosa, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Isvara-Pranidhana.
3. Asana (Postures).
4. Pranayama (Breathing).
5. Pratyahara (Turning Inward).
6. Dharana (Concentration).
7. Dhyana (Meditation).
8. Samadhi (Union).

In today's modern world, the concept of yoga has been skewed to over-emphasize on the third limb, asana. Asana being only the third step to Samadhi, is therefore considered a tiny baby step in the whole journey of yoga.

The first two limbs have to do with behaviour & morality. These are the basic characteristics that Patanjali advocates in order for us to live civilly amongst others.

The true work on the self only begins with asana. Why the physical body?

If you were having a stomach ache, would it be easy to empty your mind? Or if you were having chronic pain, would it be easy to remain still for a long period of time?

Only when the physical body is strong & healthy, can attention be turned towards inwards. Isn't it enough that we have so much mental bullshit to sift through? The absence of problems on the physical level means one less thing to worry about, hahahahahah!

As to why there are so many advanced yoga asana available, I feel that if we look at every person as an individual, no two people are exactly identical. Each person has differing levels of experiences, energy, etc. Another function of yoga asana is to rid the body of excess energy (besides clearing energy blockages), so that one does not feel like he/she is like a toddler on a sugar high, bahahahahah!

Some people are naturally lazy (ahem, when yours truly said she'd like to be an otter, her Other Half suggested she be a sloth instead), but some have all the energy in the world, & then some! So by directing that flow of energy into asana, the hyperactive person would after that find it easier to settle down into the subsequent limbs of yoga. & sometimes it takes a whole lot of physical activity to drain all that energy out!

So yeah, advancement in asana ≠ advancement as a yogi, in the holistic sense. As my 200-hour YTTC teacher put perfectly:

Yogi or Contortionist ? Most of the time I find it's all contortions going on, in the name of Yoga...Difference is vast.Yoga is joy of the body with stability and comfort not a torture with pushing and huffing and puffing and creating competitions . Yoga competitions are the most stupid thing I am coming across in today world. Yoga means to come out from all competitions. We are bringing all the stupidity of mind in to yoga . Yoga means transcendence of mind my friends.

Yoga is not a circus act. Got it?

Your physical body is your vessel in this world. Use it wisely. Like all other worldly things, it will fade away. It is fading away. Your soul, however, is transcendental. Your physical body is one of the many tools you have been provided with to experiment in this world. Choose wisely what you choose to do with it, how you care for it, how you use it.

I'm cutting down on posting asana photos on Instagram for now.

Love & gratitude! <3 <3 <3

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