In one of the Yoga Sutras, master Patanjali states that asana is perfect firmness of the body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit. Simply put, asana is designed to improve body mind and spirit, a concept which is revealed to us fairly quickly even after we have practiced yoga as little as once or twice in our lives.
Asana commonly understood are the physical postures we come into when we step on the mat but also means seat in Sanskrit.
Unless you are scolding your child commanding them to sit down, when you ask someone to take a seat, you are inviting them to find their place, center themselves and be comfortable. Asana is exactly about that. Finding our place, centering while making ourselves comfortable. But perhaps the most important and potent meaning of asana is in how it gives us a daily opportunity to experience the power of connection and exchange.
Deep within ourselves, beyond the falsehood of disconnection and separation we have been brought up to believe, we know what the truth is. Being of nature itself, we know we are all connected somehow to all that is and part of something larger than our small selves, but our willingness to honor and recognize that connection or simply remembering not to forget, both create tension that manifests as our relationship with our bodies as soon as we step on the mat and translates as a catalog of inadequacies: my hip hurts, my hamstrings are tight, I feel fat, I am sleep deprived etc…) Our body is the ground zero of our experience of nature and when we mentally devalue it, we become disconnected from nature itself.
Miraculously, as we reach the end of class, the ton of bricks we first dragged onto the mat now feels more alive, responsive and sensuous. Clearly our body hasn’t changed as we go though the practice, but it is our experience of it that has changed. The asana practice is designed to break through the layers of falsehood and the sense of disconnection, it is the intelligence of our minds entering into a dance with the intelligence of our bodies, reminding us of our deep connection to all that is manifest on this planet and shows us the way to feeling that connection with ease and joy while perfecting it and firming it with every pose. Whatever we give is what we will receive: sturdiness and steadiness into the earth create lightness and sweetness into our bodies rendering the asana effortless and joyful.
In the Egyptian culture, just like the Goddess Mother Earth Isis, reintegrates the dismembered body of her brother / husband Osiris through love, thus representing stability and the ability to connect perfectly, asana allows to experience the same reintegration not only in our bodies but in our minds and souls. We remember the connection of love we have with the mother of all mothers and by extension every single other being breathing, walking, flying, crawling, swimming on the face of the earth.
Everyday, take a seat and know where you stand. You might just find yourself sitting on top of the world.