Asanas – Body Postures in Yoga
Why asanas work so effectively
Asana-s are an essential part of the practice widely known today as yoga. For those who make yoga their spiritual path, asana-s are one of the essential steps, and for everyone who practices them they are a major tool for calming down the mind and gradually becoming more aware of ourselves and our inner universe. The complex and spectacular effects that start with the physical body have made asana-s the most famous part of the yoga methodology, resulting in them being a popular subject of studies and research in our attempt to find natural solutions to our modern-day human problems.
Even if underestimated from a deeper perspective, asana-s comprise a stage for reaching Samadhi (the ecstatic experience of Oneness) and help us realize our Highest Self. The “secret” of the amazing effectiveness of these body postures is the phenomenon of resonance – each posture puts us in resonance with a specific divine energy which is precisely the same for everyone no matter who is practicing it. The correct performance of an asana, combined with excellent inner mental focus, allows our energetic system to attune with specific infinite and eternal macrocosmic energies (for example the energy of love or the energy of courage) that are now transferred into our microcosm, charging our being with that precise universal energy and activating the corresponding qualities and virtues. This mechanism defines the difference between a gymnastic bodily position and a yoga posture – asana. And even if it feels wondrous, it is after all a simple, but universal, energetic mechanism.
How this wondrous experience is amplified on International Yoga Day 2017
On International Yoga Day 2017, three of the most important yoga asana-s will be explained and exemplified by an experienced yoga teacher. Many advanced yoga teachers will perform these exemplifications simultaneously worldwide (as indicated in the schedule below), generating a subtle field of unison, irrespective of the distances that separate the groups of practitioners. This will create a veritable energy matrix that offers support for all those who want to experience (even for the first time) the extended benefits of practicing the selected yoga asana-s. The process of tuning with the energy specific to each asana is greatly facilitated by the field of unison created by this network of practitioners, each focusing their awareness on the energetic processes for each asana, as described below.
General execution of an asana
For an exemplary performance of an asana, in which the maximum effects are generated on all levels of the being, the following steps are recommended.
Always start with a warming up session, in which you prepare your physical and energetic structures. After this general preparation, every asana should follow the same model.
- Gradually enter into the asana being aware of your physical structure, while controlling it the whole time.
- Perform a static phase of the asana for as long as is comfortable.
During the performance, all muscles that are not being used in the position should be as relaxed as possible. After a stable and relaxed position is achieved, your attention should gradually include your whole body. Become aware that the physical body, together with the specific energy structures attached to it, acts as a genuine “antenna” that tunes into the specific macrocosmic energies that the asana facilitates. Deepen your awareness from your physical body to your energetic structure and the specific activation of the states and qualities that characterise the asana. Gradually deepen and expand your awareness to perceive different psycho-mental states and even archetypal universal principles. If executed long enough and with intense inner focus, each asana can lead to the gradual awakening of your soul or even states of pure divine bliss (Ananda) and eventually to the realization of your Supreme Self (Atman).
- Slowly exit the asana, paying attention to your physical structure in order to control it at all times.
- End with an awareness and relaxation phase in which you become as aware as possible of the effects on all levels of your being. Pay special attention to the specific effects of the asana (as described below) and note the awakening and assimilation of those effects in your being.
After completing an asana program, perform the deep, complete yogic relaxation (Shavasana)
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Lie on the ground facing downwards. Place your hands under your shoulders and gradually arch your trunk backwards while lifting your head, so that the upper part of your body is supported by your arms. You should mainly bend in the area of the thoracic vertebrae. Keep your feet relaxed and actively relax the lower part of your back. Keep your thighs and buttocks relaxed, and tilt your head backwards while keeping your neck as relaxed as possible. If you are not able to bend your back far enough to completely stretch your arms, keep your elbows on the ground.
Concentrate for the entire duration of the asana as indicated above. Focus especially to perceive a pleasant affectionate state, a radiant state of love without object, an inner state of harmony, balance and peace.
It’s important to come back very gently after the execution of an asana.
Contraindications: Do not practice this asana after a disc prolapse or when you suffer from a hernia. In the case of hyperthyroidism, do not bend your head backwards but keep it straight.
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In this asana, sit on the ground with your legs crossed. This asana includes two versions, according to the way we cross our legs relative to the body – whether it is the left leg or right leg that is closer to the body. To activate the yin, receptive aspect of this asana, place your left leg closer to the body, so that each foot is placed under the opposite leg. Be attentive to stay in a comfortable position. Keep your arms relaxed but straight with your hands on your knees. Perform Jnana Mudra, forming a circle with your thumb and index finger. Keep your spine straight.
After performing the asana as indicated above, take a few moments of awareness with both legs stretched out and support your body on your arms. Then perform the asana with the right leg closer to the body, following the same steps as indicated above. This will activate the yang, emissive aspect of this asana.
Concentrate for the entire duration of the asana as indicated above. Perceive a state of deep relaxation, which gradually expands to the psycho-mental level until a refined pleasant state occurs and amplifies. You can perceive an increased capacity to deal with the state of pleasure. Also perceive increased social integration and enhanced charisma.
There are no contraindications for this aana.
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Sit on your legs on the ground. Your big toes should be a thumbs-width apart, while your knees should be at the distance of a fist. Do not sit on your heels directly. Place your hands on your thighs against your hip joint with the thumbs facing backwards while your fingers point towards your genitals. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed and chest wide. If the flexibility of your legs does not allow you to sit directly on the ground, use a pillow for support under your feet or between your legs and buttocks.
Concentrate for the entire duration of the asana as indicated above. Perceive a state of communion between your mind and heart. Feel how this state generates deep mental and emotional peace, creating inner alignment, helping us to experience the higher aspects of our being.
There are no contraindications for this asana.