The whole objective of yoga practice is to live with peace and harmony. Read that again, because my guess is that you’ve been led to believe that yoga is about getting in shape or getting in touch with some quasi-spiritual form of exercise. That is a western redefinition of the traditional roots of yoga, however.
So how does one achieve peace and harmony with yoga practices? The answer is through asanas, in the beginning. Asanas are the third part or limb in the Ashtanga yoga as composed by Sage Patanjali. There is a misconception among some ‘yoga snobs’ that asanas cannot be performed by everyone, but this is totally wrong.
Yoga transcends all the the artificial limitations people try to impose upon it or its practitioners. Anyone who has a passion and determination can practice yoga and asanas as well. When compared with other physical exercises, asanas are slightly different. The reason is that every movement of the body is to be in a rhythm and done with awareness. A conscious movement of the body helps to increase both physical and mental awareness. However, this means that you have to shut of the MP3 player. Yoga isn’t aerobics or Zumba or spinning…it is more like a guided, physical meditation. Gradually, when you learn to focus on how your body is feeling rather than blaring music, you experience self-awareness within each and every action – even when you walk.
We all know that a relaxed mind alone can be productive in both professional and personal life. When you are tense or worried or the mind is distracted, angry of cannot focus on the goal, then decision making, analytical thinking, clarity, everything goes out the window. Whenever the mind is not calm and peaceful, actions are inconsistent and this leads to being under-productive.
The various body postures explored in yoga help practitioners to achieve tremendous physical confidence, willpower, determination and a positive attitude that prepares them to be successful in life. When you start practicing the yoga asanas, you may start experiencing lightness of the body. The reason is that the first effect of asanas is on the joints of the body. Wrists, elbows, shoulders, the waist, knees, and ankles all are affected with simple yoga postures.
After practicing asanas regularly, you can get rid of the feeling of being stiff in the morning. Asanas helps to stretch the muscles, joints and thus release the tension accumulated in the joints. The fast lifestyle many people live creates a lot of tension in the mind and the body. Yoga asanas help to release these tensions accumulated throughout the stressful day. Asanas should be practiced in an empty room with flow of fresh air. It must be properly ventilated so that the fresh air flows in.
The following basic movements make up the asanas:
- Standing & sitting
- Lying on the floor
- Forward & backward bending
Sometimes, asanas are combination of all these. The best example is the “Sun Salutation” or Surya Namaskar. Each bend or twist is thought by some yogis to affect at least one organ by improving its working condition. Because of this belief, there are asanas recommended for diabetic patients designed to help the pancreas start producing the insulin required for the body. Some advocate that digestive and other stomach disorders can be cured with the practice of asanas. Common diseases like back pain, spondylitis, cervical disorders, are often treated in India with particular asanas.
As for psychological aspects, some yoga adherents discover tremendous confidence as they continue the practice. Asanas are to be done by breathing consciously so that awareness increases, which is why following an experienced yogi is recommended if you have respiratory problems. The stretching of the body while doing asanas helps create a positive ambiance within and around you. Oxygenation of the blood occurs once the lungs use their full potential.
The relation between the body and mind is such that once you have gained the control over the bodily organs, it is easy to tame the mind or bring it under control. The yoga asanas improve posture, which allows you to start sitting straighter; this helps to increase awareness and concentration even when you do your daily routine. In fact, practice of asanas alone can make you more productive than what you are now.