May 6, 2021

Yoga Beyond Asanas: What the Shapes we Create with our Bodies Have to Offer Us. 

Yoga, a path with depth encouraging us to renounce limitations, is a noble path to embark upon.

Where do we begin?

Many of us start this journey learning the basic postures as a way to address the physical body, improving flexibility and strength.

Others might look for tools to calm the mind, reduce worry and anxiety, and discover, at best, who they are and what gives their life meaning.

What do these shapes that we create with our bodies really have to offer?

Is there innate wisdom and latent messages within each posture we assume, and if so, how do we contact that place? When we stand in warrior pose, for instance, how do we become the warrior? What strength needs to be cultivated in our life to meet the challenges of a particular situation?

This asana has a gift to give. We step our feet apart, lift our arms—stretching out from the shoulders—and look forward off into the distance. Hinging at the knee, we engage the legs: we settle down into our stance. We arrive, breathing, focusing with a soft gaze. While standing in warrior two, our strength increases. How can that strength be applied and integrated?

Every asana contains a potent message and has an energetic power of more than meets the eye. The way we approach our practice influences what will be received. All of the benefits are given to us if we do our part.

What does it take to do our part?

Through dedication and perseverance, we understand what each pose means to us and, therefore, change as a result. Through inquiry, coupled with expanding awareness, we might touch upon something more.

Even if yoga is approached solely on the physical level, we undoubtedly impact other aspects of the body-mind. Sometimes, we can sense this if thoughts normally running a mile per minute begin to slow down.

We may have a better holding of our emotions and more of a capacity to discriminate and apply the power of choice in how we respond to the moments of life. Perhaps other times we wonder, is this really having an impact on the person I am becoming? How do I know that I am changing?

Retreating into our shell, we sit. While weaving arms under legs, the head drops, and the neck releases toward the feet. Tortoise pose is an invitation to turn inward. This can be seen in the shape of the body. We are no longer looking out, but rather within. The back and inner legs stretch, breath moving to impact the state of tension that has been carried. Is the turtle tense? How do they move through the world? What can be learned from this ancient creature?

In slowing down and resisting temptation, there is a space to pause—to just be. We have the opportunity to withdraw and retreat, to inquire: How do I come back to my center? How do I navigate the waters of imagination, fear, desire? 

The body is perceptive, brilliant, and intelligent. It takes in and is altered by thought, by word, by deed.

As a live system that balances many working parts contained within its wholeness harmoniously, the body is a spiritual tool for our evolution and development. Is there something more that happens on the mat? The turtle knows there is. The turtle has access to the depth of the ocean, a place of great mystery to us, who only sees the surface.

How do we dive beyond the surface of our practice into this world of possibility, of potential?

We lie in corpse pose, dropping into the omnipresent awareness and dying to the rest of the world. In the simplicity of the pose, we return to the place within ourselves that knows how to rest into being without doing a thing, and yet we do not die.

Awareness is the key to receiving the innate intelligence within the body and connecting with the force behind every movement we make—on and off the mat.

How do you unlock your yoga?

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Julie MacAdam  |  Contribution: 670

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