If you look around your next practice, you will notice how differently students approach yoga. Some move quickly from one Asana [the poses that yoga is known for] to the next, slowing down their movements at the very last moment as to fit their bodies into a form to achieve the perfect stance. It is as if yoga’s value was found in the perfection of pose, rather than the entire practice. Others take their time moving mindfully between the Asana, not necessarily focusing on the pose but on the movements required to get to the pose.
Watching this makes me appreciate that yoga is not just about the asanas. It is, like life, about the entire experience of moving from one asana to the next, and the next, and the next. Is a continual movement that brings the body, the breath, and the mind together in a single focus focus. If all the movements are performed correctly, the yogi will find themselves in the next asana without the need to adjust. Thus, the entire practice is just that – a practice. If instead you just focus on the asanas you relegate your practice to just a few moments in time, rather than the entire yogic experience.
You see, yoga is so much more than just the asanas. To rush through the whole experience means missing out on a lot of what it can offer.
Physically, slowing down the movements that lead you from one pose to the next uses deeper muscle tissue and develops a more precise control over them. It helps you develop your breathing, a basic tenet behind all yoga practices, and teaches you to be mindful of o your body and the world around you. It helps you slow your life down, and helps you attain a more meditative presence.
Mentally, the movements between the asanas provide you with the basis for living a more mindful life. By becoming more aware of your body and understanding how the different parts work together, not only do you gain greater control over your body, but you learn to appreciate the human form on a different level. In plain English, it puts you in touch with your body and the world.
I realize that many of us approach life in the same way that we do yoga. Some of us rush from one moment to the next, slowing down only for a major confrontation and missing out on most of what occurs in between. The sad part is, that is where life is lived. In the small choices we make every day. It’s as if some of us want to rush ahead to the next momentous clash like we see in the movies or on television. Unfortunately, those clashes are not where the life-altering changes are made. Like the asanas, those are only reference points for life, they are not life itself.
In yoga, the asanas are not the point of change. They are points of reference, a way to find out if you have moved correctly. If you have moved yourself properly and aligned your body along the way, your poses will be beautiful. If not, then you will need to make adjustments. In life, it is the small choices that you make every day that will put you in a good position, or one in which you are forced to readjust.
So don’t worry about the big decisions. Instead, focus your energy on life’s small choices. If you make the right choices along the way, the big decisions will fall in line. Just like the asanas in your yoga practice, think of the life changing events that you come upon as ways to check yourself to see if you’re doing it right. They are there to merely guide the practice called life.
So the next time you have a little choice to make. Take a moment. Take a few breaths. And think about which decision would put you in the best asana for life.