If you’re looking for a better understanding of Yoga you can start by thinking about four ‘A’ words in yoga.
- Alertness & Awareness
Let’s take a closer look at each one…
According to Patanjali, Asana is: “The physical practice that yogis complete to ready their body for meditation.” Asana is the entire physical part of yoga, so it is a huge part.
Asana encapsulates all the other A’s in itself, so let’s incorporate them…
One of the most important things in Asana practice is alignment.
Having good alignment means placing your limbs, muscles, joints (et cetera) in the correct places at the correct times. And, to put it bluntly, doing it correctly.
Alignment is key for several reasons, but 1 main reason is to avoid injury. By stacking your joints properly, opening muscles correctly and lengthening properly, you are far less likely to incur an injury than if you’re just guessing at the appropriate alignment.
Alignment also includes using the internal muscles appropriately (i.e. the Bandhas-wait for the B’s for that!), and engaging and activating these properly.
- the muscle groups (which are activated by appropriate alignment)
- breath (using ujayi breath yogic 3-part breathing, nadhi sodhana pranayama or whichever is appropriate,)
This is a conscious activation of specific breathing techniques.
Bringing the conscious mind to activate this properly, is a way to purely focus the mind and stay centered and grounded throughout your practice.
4. Alertness & Awareness
Being alert and aware in your practice is really what makes your practice what it is.
The more you practice the more you will become mindful of activation, alertness and awareness of the body and breath.
The mind becomes alert when the breath is activated, the awareness spans through proprioception. This is the awareness of the neighboring parts of the body, having a perception of your body parts in relation to each other as well as in the space around you, inclusive of strength and effort being employed in movement.
As well as this perception of the body, awareness in a practice is also embraced within the mind and the breath throughout the entire practice.
The Benefits of Daily Practice
Yoga is not about burdening yourself with a laundry list of “shoulds.”
This will only cause stress and anxiety, which is what the daily practice of yoga is “supposed” to prevent. And while challenges and striving for success are great, yoga is about both being within and enjoying the present moment.
It is about finding a practice that is balanced with enjoyment, contentment and joy.