Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening.Treat it with care.
As you are reading these words, bring your attention into your body. Without moving, notice your posture. How are you sitting? Are your legs crossed? Are you in a comfortable position? Is there a part of you that is straining? Now make any adjustments in your position to enhance your comfort level. This is yoga. Changing your posture as a result of bringing your awareness into your body is the practice of yoga. The feedback loop is completed as changing your posture results in a spontaneous shift in your awareness.
Yoga is good for your mind and good for your body. Of the three important components of a balanced fitness program— flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning— yoga directly provides the first two and has the potential to enhance the third. Scientific studies on the health benefits of yoga have found that it can be useful in a wide range of conditions, including hypertension, asthma, depression, arthritis, heart disease, epilepsy, and cancer.In the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program, we have chosen postures to expand your flexibility, strengthen your muscles, and improve your balance. Each of the Seven Spiritual Laws enlivens the practice of yoga, while the practice of yoga enlivens your awareness of the Seven Spiritual Laws. Whether you are a beginning or an experienced yoga practitioner, this program will energize your body while taking your mind to a more expanded state of awareness.
Body Awareness Poses
We’ll begin with postures that have the main purpose of enlivening body awareness. The word for “position” in yoga is asana, which means “seat.” An asana is a position that you assume consciously. Yoga is the practice of consciously choosing the seat you assume. Although on one level, this means the physical position you place your body in, on another level, it implies that ultimately you choose every position in life in which you find yourself.
Yoga then becomes a practice for making your choices more consciously so that the consequences of them are success and happiness.As a human being, you have a built-in mechanism to evaluate the choices you make in your life, which is by listening to the signals of comfort or discomfort that your body generates as you consider your options. This is the essence of the Law of Karma, which utilizes body awareness to make karmically correct choices. Learning to trust the feedback your body provides will enhance your ability to make karmically correct choices in life.
There are two important benefits of practicing yoga poses that enhance mind-body integration.
The first is that yoga postures enable you to be more aware of the signals your body is sending so you can interpret them accurately. It is easy for human beings to be so immersed in their minds that they lose awareness of their bodies. The body is sending signals of what it needs, but the mind is too preoccupied to notice the signs. The practice of yoga enables you to reduce the mental background noise so you can pay attention to the messages of your body.
The second benefit of yoga is that regular practice of these poses will enhance your general level of physical and emotional comfort. If the background state of your body is one of chronic discomfort, it cannot be a reliable instrument by which you evaluate your choices. When using your body as an instrument for making choices, the subtle sensations of comfort or discomfort provide the guidance for right action. If your baseline state is disturbed, you will not be able to notice the shifts your body takes when considering different choices. Helping your body release obstacles that impede the healthy flow of life energy is a great benefit of practicing yoga postures.
Practitioners at all levels can perform these body awareness poses. It is important to remember that yoga is not a competitive sport. The goal of yoga is to enhance the connection between your body, mind, and spirit. The precise performance of a posture is of secondary importance to mind-body integration. Stay fully present as you move through these postures, gently moving into and then through your body’s resistance.