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.
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)