Third Limb of 8-Fold Path – Asana by Lena Schmidt
The yogic journey, as defined by Patanjali (the ancient sage said to have authored the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of yoga) is an eight-fold path. The eight limbs act as guidelines for how to live a healthy and meaningful life, tuned into ones own purpose and spiritual nature. The eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Over the next few weeks we’ll be diving deeper into each of the 8 Limbs here in this blog and in the Thursday, 9:00am, Yoga 1 class at the North Park studio. Enjoy your journey!
The third limb of the eight-fold path is Asana. Asana means pose or posture. The physical yoga postures are intended to maintain the body’s wellbeing and improve strength, flexibility, and vitality. They are also designed to stretch, relax, and prepare the body for seated meditation.
We can practice Asanas in yoga by:
*getting on the mat and doing yoga asana J
*challenging yourself to try new poses (you might find a new favorite!)
*respecting the alignment cues offered by the teacher
*honoring your body and taking variations when needed
We can practice Asanas in life by:
* getting up from your desk every hour or so to stretch and move (try a mountain pose or a few deep breaths in tree pose! or try a few seated cat/cow stretches right at your desk!)
*joining a yoga studio to commit to a regular asana practice
*noticing where you may be “doing yoga” in your daily activities (before or after you exercise? while you do the dishes? as you get into/out of bed? as you play with the dog?)
Practice tips: The practice of yoga asana provides a wonderful analogy for many life lessons: trying new things, falling with grace, trying again, honoring your process, enjoying the journey, and breathing through challenge. Not to mention all the physical health benefits of each pose! Next time you come to your mat, see where you can find the balance between effort and ease, strength and grace, and holding on and letting go. As yoga teacher Meghan Hassett says, the yoga poses are simply obstacle courses for the breath. So, as much as it may seem like it’s so, nailing a 30 second handstand away from the wall doesn’t actually have any bearing on your worth as a human being or your overall happiness in life (though inversions have actually been proven to increase joy and defeat depression!)