What makes a Healthy Asana?

Boat Pose

5  Essential Elements of Yoga Practice :

IMMOBILITY  - the ability to remain motionless in the asana for a number of breath cycles.

BREATH CONTROL – the breath is constantly in motion in a continuous stream.  The practitioner must breathe through the nostrils and be soft and complete in their breathing.

EFFORTLESSNESS – a healthy asana is achieved without straining or pushing oneself beyond one’s abilities.

MUSCLE STRETCHING - various muscles will be moved with equal emphasis on  surrendering and stretching as activation and contraction.

MENTAL CONCENTRATION - It is essential for a the aspirant to find a quiet focus which keeps the mind firmly anchored in the present moment.

 

Yoga and Breath Awareness

Sukhasana

Remember to Breathe…….

When we bring our attention to the breath we are truly anchored in the present moment.  The breath is our connection with life.  It is the bridge between the inner and the outer worlds.  To observe the breath without trying to manipulate it in any way will bring a quietness to the mind.  We are human beings not “doings” and most of our waking lives are spent trying to achieve objectives in an active way.  Being in a comfortable position and just being with our breath is a valuable exercise that reminds us of who and what we are: Beings.

 

To just observe without judgement requires a certain amount of detachment.  A position of total acceptance must be maintained. Focusing on the sensations of our breathing, does the breath enter more through one nostril than the other?  Do we inhale for longer than we exhale?  Is the sensation of the air warm or cold?  Do we breathe into the right lung more than the left or vice versa?  Do we breathe into the top, sides or base of the lungs?  Does it feel tight or relaxed?  Just observe the sensations, don’t judge or manipulate, or alter the breathing in any way.  It is okay to just be.  This may be a rare moment in our lives when we are good enough just being, not striving towards some other reality.

 

A focus on the ebb and flow reminds us that life is all about balance.  This balance is reflected in the natural world.  The tide comes in, and the tide goes out.  There is day and there is night.  There is a time for action and a time for non-action.  The inhalation is the taking in, the exhalation is the letting go.  There is also the pause of space between the inhalation breath and the exhalation breath; a perfect moment of silence and peace when we can be at one with the universe.