Our hope in providing a studio theme at Kula each month is to deepen your understanding of the philosophy behind yoga, so you can start living yoga both on and off the mat. This year we will be exploring the traditional 8 Limbs of Yoga. The practice of yoga is an art and science dedicated to creating union between the body, mind and spirit. These eight steps basically act as a guideline on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Our February focus is Asana, or the physical practice.
Asana is the 3rd of the 8 steps and arguably the most focused on aspect of yoga in Western society. It embodies the physical practice of yoga, though it would be a mistake to simplify it as such as there is a much deeper connection to be had.
The study of asana is not about mastering posture. It’s about using posture to understand and transform yourself
~ BKS Iyengar
What is Asana?
Asana is defined as any of the yogic postures, poses or movements, however it literally translates to “comfortable seat”. It is said that the postures of yoga were designed to prepare the body to remain in seated meditation for long periods of time. The very notion of asana being ones preparation for the meditative ‘seat’ brings the focus away from just the physical practice and begins the journey of the mind looking inward. Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation.
Asana ~ moving towards deeper connection
On a base level, the balanced practice of yoga postures can increase flexibility, stamina and endurance, improve functionality of every system of the body, in particular our digestion, and most importantly have a positive effect on our nervous system and hormones. Essentially, yoga encourages a harmonious balance in the physical body, which is what we all desire right?
However, on a deeper level, a yoga practice does not just ensure a more efficient use of our body but encourages a connection of mind, body and spirit. When we draw our awareness in through our practice, we are better able to better connect and hear what our body has to tell us. Donna Farhi, a well respected and experience yoga practitioner, likens it to a dancer or athlete who’s internal impulse results in movement that takes him into a space. This same focus, when applied to our physical yoga practice, takes us inside the dynamic form of a yoga posture.
“When you witness a yoga practitioner skilled in this dynamic internal dance, you have the sense that the body is in continuous subtle motion.”
~ Donna Farhi
Our way of life has evolved such that we are masters of multitasking. We eat as we watch TV, text as we walk through the park, jog with a podcast. Our asana practice teaches us to find a single pointed focus, drawing our awareness in and away from the external world. We re-unite our mind body connection and allow the mind to still, henceforth preparing ourselves for meditation or simply a greater awareness in life.
Explore inner awareness through your practice
Notice the internal movement of your mind in a deep Yin yoga stretch, deepen your connection to the breath in a challenging Hot yoga pose, feel the movement of prana through the body in a Power yoga vinyasa. Take time in Savasana to draw your focus in and listen to the subtle energy of the body.
How do you explore the physical practice? Join us on the mat to learn more about asana.
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga teacher & therapist, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga, and studio assistant at Kula. She is also a mum of two, health & wellness blogger and photographer.
Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio on Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic poweryoga ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yin Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides prenatal & postnatal yoga classes, and provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing, and school yoga programs. Kula also runs an annual ‘Kula Cruise’ yoga retreat sailing from Bali to Lombok & the Gili Islands. Find out more on our website www.kulayoga.com.au. Or follow us:
Facebook: Kula Yoga Australia
Instagram – @kulayoga
Twitter – Kula Yoga Australia
Youtube – Kula Yoga Australia