What is Asana?
Asana, or posture training, is a far deeper technology than most people would initially assume.
Remnants of posture training, movement modalities, and ritual dance are seen across culture for many thousands of years and are not exclusive to the wild yogic feats of the sadhus in India. Ancient humans have long understood the value of moving their bodies to circulate energy, remove stagnation, and enter into states of divine communion.
According to ancient texts, the asanas were means by which the practitioner could arrange his or her limbs and spine to produce an inner alchemical and electromagnetic effect on the various systems of the body.
What is helpful to understand is that the body is an entire network of interconnected pieces which are exchanging information on a quantum scale constantly. Health is a state of balance in this exchange of information. When a part, or parts, of the body become closed off due to trauma, misuse, abuse, lack of care or attention, the flow of information and intelligence is obstructed. The body enters into a fragmented state. To bring back harmony and “flow” within our bodies, we can practice movements which bring about the alchemical and neurological changes within our own physiology to promote healing and repair of any and all damaged areas. This is the purpose of asana – not to merely become flexible, but to increase the flow and communication within the infrastructure that is our body.
…and because the mind exists as an extension of the body, as the body becomes tuned, so too do our thoughts and feelings. When the body is in good shape, the mind is reflective of this, and vice versa.
According to yogic philosophy, this purification process of the body-mind is a result of the opening of the nadis, which are the subtle nerve channels running throughout our body. The word “nadi” means river, and you can think of there being 72,000 tiny streams carrying the flow of evolutionary intelligence along its designated pathway. If we have each stream well-carved out, then when there is an increase in energy, that energy has a place to go. If the streams are not well developed, too much energy can lead to overwhelm and leakage.
Asana practice helps us prepare the irrigation system of the nadis.
Skillful practice will remove obstructions in the energetic system so that the life-force can flow naturally, without any imposition.
Over time, the energy flow becomes so well-established that the mind participates less in its domination over the body and instead experiences participation with the flow of life.
What this means practically is that the mind becomes less involved in the affairs of the body, and the body’s innate intelligence is further awakened to guide the individual in his or her affairs.
Skillful practice of asana leads to less imposition from the mind and natural movements of the body. Life becomes more musical as the steps of the dance open up.