and fundamental things when using a yoga posture, asana
Yoga is about the art of living. To be able to rest in yourself and have balance in life: balance between activity and rest, between tension and relaxation, between the external and the internal.
Yoga is also about being able to return to that balance, should it momentarily disappear. And for this we use, among other things, the asanas, the postures of yoga.
Asanas are often viewed as a form of gymnastics. But in contrast to gymnastics, where the movements are paramount and not always carried out quite consciously, the yoga postures are performed under great tranquillity and with full awareness; they are not called exercises, but postures. They are based upon a timeless knowledge of how the body functions – in itself, and in relationship with the mind and the psychic energy.
Asana means a correctly rendered, ‘stable and comfortable pose’, developed, tried and tested and passed on from teacher to pupil for generations. The different asanas influence the body in various ways; muscles, organs, blood circulation, nervous system, glands and the breath. (e.g. see article on headstand).
Here, we shall focus on one method; when a muscle is held stretched, its tensions are released; ; the longer it is held, the more the muscle relaxes. This is demonstrated by measuring muscle tension during a posture. Therefore, one stands or sits completely still for some time in each asana, and with a combination of various poses one literally touches all the muscles in the body.One does not overstrain, but goes as far into the posture as the body allows and stays there for a while. Gradually, the tension falls so much that it is possible to reach further into the pose. In this manner, all yoga postures, with some practise, become comfortable.
The asanas give an immediate experience of well-being and, in the long term, good health; and make the mind concentrated. But the postures have a further purpose: They deepen your state, which is necessary in order to really understand and get anything out of the yogic breathing exercises, the pranayama. And again, this creates a foundation for genuine meditation.
In the Reading Room under Asanas you will find more articles about the yoga poses e. g. Shoulderstand.