Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Yoga philosophy. The stories of the asanas. The significance.
During practice I find myself going inwards to observe myself more closely. My practice these days is focused on the basics. So even if I practice Adhomukha Vrikshasana (handstand), I’ll start from Uttanasana.
Last weekend I attended a workshop at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. It was a two day workshop where we learned about Krishnamacharya, and his contribution to modern yoga and the style of yoga taught at KYM.
On the first day of the workshop the teacher spoke about the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga. In his lecture he asserted that the 8 limbs grow like a baby. Equally and in all directions. So as you work on Yama and Niyama, you also work on Dhyana, Dharana etc. This is a new idea for me, but the more I think about it, the more I see the similarity between this statement and asana practice.
A good friend of mine (also a yogi) told me once that when you’re struggling with a particular asana, it sometimes helps to go beyond that asana to one which is a little more advanced, and then come back to the asana that isn’t working for you. Just because you aren’t consciously working on a particular asana doesn’t mean that it’s lying dormant. Every time you practice, there are imperceptible changes in your body. Whether the practice is good or bad, a change occurs. Over time these changes accumulate and previously inaccessible asanas start to emerge, with relative ease. In this way, your practice grows equally in all directions.
If you practice with focus and devotion, you are working on all aspects of the practice and not merely the physical one. As your asana practice improves, your ability to speak the truth increases, you feel more compassionate towards Life and everyone in your life, you become more content and you stop vacillating between extremes. The practice grows almost on its own accord, pulling the practitioner along with it.