Ask anyone to tell you why they get on the mat and you will get as many different answers as there are people.The Western world equates Asana as being yoga, but asana is just a small part of the classical yoga system laid out by Patanjali.
Here is what asana is to me.
Asana is biology and breath
Ultimately peace is found by mastering our field of attention so we can move effortlessly in a set direction without faltering. We are so distracted as humans our nature is to move from one thing to the other, like magpies reaching for the next bright shiny thing. If we can become fixated in our Asana practice we can become fixated in our life. As we practice our postures we need an anchor to hold our attention, this is why the teachers talk to us constantly about the breath. If we are not connected to our breath we are not connected to anything. The asana is just a vehicle for our change. It carries our awareness in different shapes and forms.
Asana is commitment
Without commitment then there is no habit. Without habit intention never works. How often have you intended to do something and not? This is because habit is what pulls us daily to our mat while intention is just a grand plan we have. Yoga teaches us to change our relationship to commitment. There are three hooks on the commitment cline. Stay and bear the pain, get out as fast as you can and give up. Where are you on this with areas of your life? Do you tend to run as soon as the going gets tough or do you give up? If the pose is tricky what is your reaction? Do you turn to distraction? When we create habit by stepping daily onto the mat we change the way our brain is wired. Our brain starts to dig deeper into the old grooves or ways of thinking and creates new fresh pathways. Asana helps us replace the old habits with the new more desirable ones.
Asana is relationship
We use the forms and breath and commitment to mold a relationship with ourselves. If we practice inwardly we cultivate an awareness of ourselves in relationship with ourselves. We can watch and listen and see ourselves move and breath and note what comes up. We see the distraction and frustration, we see the impatience and judgement. We see a little light and then some grace, and then if we are really tuned in we see this is ourselves in relationship with others. This is how we react, this is our programming, this is our dark side.This is how we connect to the world the face we show and now our asana becomes a field of exploration and investigation to how we treat ourselves and others.
Asana is a reflection
It holds a mirror up to us each time we practice. It lets us know how we are treating our body.
Asana is love
It teaches us to be kind to ourselves
Asana is joy
It reminds us to be lighter
Asana is a priviledge
that someone out there doesn’t have
it is freedom
it is expression
it is a gift that we must unwrap everyday