The LivingWise Project has previously shared tips on how you can begin a yoga-asana practice and talked about the fact that yoga is not an exercise regime. Some readers may have wondered, ‘then what is it?’.
The word ‘yoga’ means union. Through the practice of yoga, union is sought with the whole of creation. Yoga is essentially a spiritual process with the ultimate aim being to dissolve oneself (more accurately, the idea of oneself).
Yoga-asana practice is one of the ‘eight limbs’ of yoga as explained in Patanjali’s yoga-sutras (you can check out an earlier post on his work).
The purpose of yoga-asana practice is really to help the spiritual seeker prepare for higher states of consciousness. Since these higher states involve higher levels of energy, if the body is not sufficiently prepared to handle these higher levels, it would be like trying to run 220 watts of voltage through an 40 watt light bulb. The result would be a blow-out.
Reaching higher levels of energy and consciousness requires a certain alignment of the body, especially the spine which is said, in ancient Hinduism, to be the ‘axis of the universe’.(1) Yoga-asana is about controling our life force (‘prana’), building flexibility, and aligning the spine so that energy can be raised to higher centres of consciousness in the body. In addition, it is about becoming conscious of the effects of the sun and moon on our bodies and syncing our bodies with their cycles. ‘Hatha’ yoga is especially geared to this, ‘ha’ denoting the sun and ‘tha’, the moon.
Yoga is thus about using the human body to explore the highest spiritual possibilities. No other creature on the planet is able to achieve the states of consciousness open to humans – it is the marvellously engineered human body that affords us this opportunity of experiencing the entire Universe as ourselves.
So the next time you hit the yoga mat, remember it’s not about fitness. Why settle for such a paltry goal when an opportunity to connect with the Cosmos is on offer?
(1) An interesting video on the spine as the axis of the universe is here.If you like what you read on LWP and would like to make a contribution, then see here.ॐ To join LWP on Facebook see: facebook.com/livingwiseproject