What Is It To Master Asana?
Let’s talk about the real purpose of Yoga, and mastering Asana (poses). What do we mean when we talk about mastering Asana? It’s probably not what you think and I’m going to talk a bit around why that might be in this blog.
Before I start, check out the video below for a snippet of our podcast on this subject… check out the full video HERE.
The Purpose of Asana
When you think of Yoga poses, your mind probably goes to complex positions that involve being super flexible and fit. But most of Yoga is not like that when practiced correctly! In fact, to master asana we don’t even need to be flexible.
The main purpose of the poses is to create a specific effect, energetically and physically, to move you towards a healthier state of mind. This can be done whether you can movedeeply into the pose, or use props to assist the shape of the body. It is not about FORM it is about FUNCTION!
Why Asana Is Included In Yoga
Most people are under the impression that Yoga is just moving the body into poses in a flow. But this is completely false! In fact, Yoga existed before Asana was even introduced. Originally, Yoga just consisted of Meditation and Pranayama (breathwork). Asana was not even a part of Yoga, until it was realised that some people needed to work their body in order to become stable enough to hold themselves in Meditation and Pranayama.
So, Asana was created as a way to PREPARE US FOR YOGA, by creating the right environment for our minds to transition into a Meditative state.
How To Master Asana
You have mastered Asana when you have reached a place of mental and physical stability. When you can hold a posture with ease, minimal movement, and keep the mind present, you have mastered Asana.
As poses were created to prepare you for Meditation and Pranayama, the emphasis is on keeping the mind still even when you are provoked. Holding these poses creates that physical provokation that you must work through to reach a place of mental stability. Poses also expand your capacity to breathe, improving your Pranayama practice and leading to more effective Meditation.
Will Yoga Still Make You Fit?
Of course it will. Naturally, by moving the body, you reconnect with certain ways of bending and twisting that you wouldn’t encounter in daily life. You’ll work your body in ways you are not used to which will eventually reflect in better overall strength and flexibility. It will also improve your heart rate and breathing rate.
However, being fit and bendy is not how you master Asana. You may look like you are a pro, but internally you may not have the capacity to remain stable and connect with the function of the pose.
Arguably, the most important area of your physical and energeic body is the mind. The main way that Yoga makes you fit… is mentally. You learn to master the mind and become more in touch with your true self, underneath the built up trauma, toxicity and environmental pressures.
The Real Purpose Of Yoga
In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali states that we use Asana to cultivate stability, spaciousness and mental ease. This is how we master Asana.
The purpose of Yoga? To reconnect you to your truest self. The part of you under all of the conditioning that has built up from your life experiences. Through Yoga as a whole, you connect to your body… then breath… then mind… and finally to yourself.
Click the button to check out the full podcast on YouTube!
Here, Josie talks about how she feels that in some areas of the yoga world
we are confusingly still chasing image and performance over spaciousness and
ease – and why that’s simply not a good strategy for success in practice and
actually, let’s call it out, it’s not Yoga.
We would love for you to share your experiences, confusions,
observations about what practice is and means for you.
Let us know in the comments!