What makes a yoga pose an authentic yoga pose?
Here are several answers to this question. Can you guess which one it is?
A.You look like, and are able to smile like, the model on the cover of Yoga Journal
B.You are one of the elite few who can do handstand in the center of the room
C.You are hyper flexible, and therefore able to go deeper into the poses
D.You actually present and attuned to whatever posture it is that you are doing
The answer is D!
As a yoga teacher I sometimes hear would be students say “I would like to try yoga but I am not flexible enough”, as though the ability to touch one’s toes were a prerequisite to the practice. The assumption is that success in yoga can be measured by one’s ability to bend.
Even dedicated practitioners can fall into this assumption and miss out on the deeper purpose and potential of any given asana. In fact, it is possible to seemingly grow more and more proficient at yoga poses without ever actually practicing yoga. If our practice is motivated purely by external appearance, than we are missing out on a fundamental aspect of yoga.
Many can attest that there is an implicit value in the postures, that is not to be discounted. And, let us consider that the postures, along with other even more sophisticated yogic methodologies, are a means to a much greater end -Union with one’s inborn spirit.
While this may sound very lofty, it is something that can be gradually discovered and ultimately realized. The postures can be a means to begin to approach this ideal provided we are practicing with the correct orientation.
The crown jewel of both asana and meditative practice is awareness-itself. How attentive are we to the quality or pranic essence of our breathing? Attuned to the quality of the vital breath, are we able to make fine adjustments to the body to accommodate a more compete experience of the breath itself? How do subtle or overt changes in our breath affect our mind?
Through this detailed process of repositioning or repatterining of the breath, body and the mind through the postures, new neuro-pathways are built and the yogi experiences deeper and deeper levels of peace and perception.
The Sanskrit term for the joining of breath, body and mind is triputi or the uniting of three energies. Bringing these three aspects fully to bare on the physical pose greatly magnifies the power, potential, and inborn wisdom of any given posture.
From this perspective the ultimate goal of asana is not to contort oneself into the most exotic position, but rather, to use the posture as a fuel for developing inner awareness.
Using the posture as a tool to become more conscious of ones breath, body, mind, spirit connections the essence of yoga practice is brought to life.
JOIN US! OCTOBER 16th EVENT
This month we are hosting an exclusive community yoga class in Denver that focuses on this topic of authenticity in yoga poses as well as “Asana and the Gateway to the Inner-World.” Join us on Sunday, Oct. 16th from 9:30-11:30.
Click here for more information.