10 Things to remember before doing Yoga asana

by Rajmahendra Hegde
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My journey in the Yoga path is almost a year now; under a teacher’s guidance, a practice for four months. In the past, the only course done in my life was Taichi Chuan, practising almost a decade ago or more than two years. I am not interested in dancing, but I am obsessed with exercise having flow movements—Taichi is the best suites in this category. In the past, I have practice Yoga with different teachers but never considered or taken it seriously. Guess the guidance or learning has not shown me the right path. Moved and learned in other states but I somehow like to try new things after settling in Hyderabad.

This article has a list of essential points keeping in mind while doing Asana, Pranayama and dhyana. These points may help the reader when they wish to try and consider Yoga or practise it. It is helpful for both who want to know Yoga or beginners who like to know before taking it seriously. 

Yoga is not Yoga

As the Author (Saint Patanjali’s) Yoga sutra says

मभणनमभासनप्रािामाभप्रत्याहायधायिाध्यानसभाधमोऽष्टावअङ्गाणन ॥ २९॥ yamaniyamasanapranayamapratyaharadharanadhy anasamadhayo-a-shtava anggani
Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratya hara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, are the limbs of Yoga.

The term Yoga has eight limbs. You have to pass through all these limbs to call it a Yoga practice. In today’s world Yoga means you are doing one of Asana (The third stage), Pranayama(4th stage) or Dhyana/Meditation ( probably 7th stage). Yes, you are skipping the first two stages and enter Asana directly. I will be writing an article on Yema and Niyama soon. Subscribe to my blog. 

Yoga asana is not Gymnastics

You may have seen in media that people who practice Yoga show different Asana, which you never imagined you could do. In my view, it does create a double effect, It looks good, but at the same Yogasanatime, it shows complicated twist, turns and upside-down poses, which people never do. I have read articles saying people today not adopting Yoga because of these media promoting tough asanas to inspire people creating the wrong presumption that Yoganasa is tough to do and its not for self. Yoga asana is not Gymnastics to do all that. Maybe the practitioner you are seeing have long experience in the field.

मोगणित्तवृणत्तणनयोध् ॥ २॥ yogashchittavrittinirodhah
Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrttis)

It’s a way to reach your mind to remove Chitta. Asanas help muscular, body and lot of health benefits when you do. After seeing all these gymnastics forms, do not be scared or conclude that it is not possible by me. All Asana is not for everyone. Read on!

All Asanas is not for you

Read this again “Not all the Asanas is for you” we have 4 to 5 digits of Asanas. There are so many Schools in Yoga like Kriya, Hatha, Ashtanga Vinyasa etc. All asanas designed to suit different body frame. Do not be scared after seeing all complicated turns, upside down forms, they may not for you: In my view, Asanas are classified based on :

  • Some are easy to do. These Asanas you will do it effortlessly, you can do. same will be tough for others.
  • Some due to fear you may not do properly. Need a mindset to try them. You may fear to do but if you do it an easy Asana.
  • Some need alignment change. Due to your body frame, you may not do it. Try to do some alternate pose to fix it.
  • Some need extra care and practice to achieve
  • Some Asanas may not be achieved due to your genetic, health or your body frame

Approach Asanas with an open mind and see which category it falls and take necessary action. Leaving some poses is not bad. You have so many Asanas to try!. Do not see others focus on your body-mind and consult with your teacher to improve. 

स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥ sthirasukham aasanam (46)
Posture is that which is firm and pleasant.

As YogaSutra says “Posture is that which is firm and pleasant.” An Asana, if it’s not firm or pleasant to you, can omit or practice with an alternative to achieve it. So do not sold-out by these stupid gymnastic artists and avoid this great art. Again “All asanas are not for you.”

Please focus on the Theme of Asana than how it looks

The above point to be considered by me, and the next as well. e.x. When I do Trikonasana / Utthita Trikonasana or Triangle Pose some say see your toe; some say “See straight”, and some say “See seeking focus thumb or middle finger”. All these three are wrong! Triangle poses The neck or gazes theme is not essential, but it’s leg and waist and bends matters a lot. In Hastapadasana or Forward mind bend, it is NOT the hand/palm have to touch the toe, The theme of the Asana is how you bend down. Do not worry if you can’t perform a specific Asana, take your teacher’s guidance, what is essential in this Asana and try to use various other ways. 

Do not focus on others near you

अथ मोगान शासनभ॥ atha yoganushasanam
Now the yogic self-discipline starts.

Thus the first stanza of Yogasutra starts. Yoga or any of the limbs is entirely self-focused and practice. Do not see how others are doing—May result from altering how your body wants to behave and focus on how others are doing. Read the previous point for more. When you do Asana, your body tells you it is possible or not for you first listen to this. If you watch others, you may stress more to do it or discouraged. Your teacher is your guide for alignments and doubts. 

Body-Mind-Prana(Breath) Union

Yoga is the balance of Body, Mind and Breathing. All three have to be in harmony when you do Asana, Pranayama or 0pen-heart-in-the-morningDhyana etc. If one is less or more all you are doing is a Zumba or Gym session in a yoga asana class. 

  • Body – Body has to follow the Postures Theme. Note: “Posture is that which is firm and pleasant.” Regular practice tunes your flexibility and perfection of Posture; all you have to do is listen to your body current flexibility.
  • Mind – Ths is the first thing all miss. When you do Yogasana, it means “Now the yogic self-discipline starts.” so you have to be Self-disciplined and Mindful in every moment. You can’t let go from yoga class apart from what assignments you have in the office etc.
  • Breath – This is the next big issue. When you do Asana, you have to breathe, based on how you move. Many won’t do it, and your Asana becomes a Gym session. Always focus on breathing pattern.

Do not skip Yema and Niyama

अणहंसासत्यास्तेमब्रह्मचमायऩणयर्ग्हा मभा् ॥ ३०॥ ahinsasatyasteyabrahmacharyaparigraha yamah
Non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-receiving, is called Yama.

शौचसंतोषतऩ्स्वाध्यामेश्वयप्रणिधानाणन णनमभा् ॥ ३२॥  shauchasantoshatapahsvadhyayeshvara-pranidhanani niyamah
Internal and external purification, contentment, mortification, study, and worship of intellect, are the Niyamas.

Yama and Niyama are not anything different. Most of them are already known and mentioned in many religions, scriptures. Every religion and philosophy have them as doctrine, commandments or path. Try to follow some of them at least. 

Practice makes perfect

You cannot achieve perfection when you speak “Ya yoga is good, we all have to do” or attend a Yoga class, and you become perfect. You have to practice and then only you can sharpen your axe. Try different postures in Asana’s, try to create colour and taste in your practice. Read next point. 

Yoga is not one size fits all.

You have so many schools in Yogasana. Some focus perfection, some on exercise aspect, some flow etc. Do not stick to one. Try exploring all, and something will sync for your body or mind. Seeking will lead to finding your path. 

Use Props extensively

Yoga PropsWhen I first see Props in Yoga, I thoughts its gimmick. But when I probe into it, I see Yoga Props’ pioneer is non-other than BKS Iyengar. OMG, a modern approach to an age-old traditional lifestyle! If you want to sharpen your Asana Props are an excellent tool.
e.x.
Bricks: A pair of block is enough for a regular yoga practitioner. It comes in different make choose best suites to you. They help in many different ways. an example is when you do Ashva Sanchalasana or Lunge pose your hand may be short of reaching down, or you may like to stretch your chest more so you can use Bricks

Strap: Helps in getting to hold your toe, Stretch your leg with hand more, etc.
Other props are Mats, Bolsters, Blankets, and more.

You do not have to get permission to use Props, still, you can consult with your teacher ;-)

Always Smile

I know, In this generation Smiling needs a good joke. We lost our child laughter. On the Yoga journey, do it with a smile on face and practise any of your Asana, Pranayama or Dhyana. 

I hope the above points ring the bell for your yogic journey, If you have any facts to share with me or with other readers fo this article, feel free to post your comments. I will acknowledge every word you post. 

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