Physical yoga postures are used as an entry point to the true practice of physical yoga. First stage of Param Yoga is willful practice. The main focus in the first stage is to learn the postures correctly but without force or aggression. In Param Yoga, willful practice means working through your personal fears, physical inhibitions and self-concepts. Willful practice does not violate or override the wisdom of the body. Instead it works with the body consciously and deliberately.
Enter each posture with awareness and respect for the body. Focusing on proper form and alignment does not mean forcing yourself to achieve perfection of the final form. Instead, remain focused on performing the posture to the best of your ability. It is the deliberate practice of correct form, not the perfection of the posture that provides the maximum benefits. Remember:
- Your journey begins from where you are. It cannot begin from where you are not.
- Follow precision, alignment and attention to details.
- Make your movements slow, focused and intentional to help you move through some areas of your body that you might otherwise avoid.
- Pay attention to what your body can and cannot do, rather than judge or compare your performance with others.
- Do everything possible to keep your attention inwardly focused.
- As you approach the practice, accept the limitations in your body.
- Drop internal resistance when you discover your physical limitations. Breathe, relax and let go of stress and holding as you encounter the inhibitions in your body.
- Self-acceptance will prevent you from judging, criticizing or comparing yourself with others.
- You will become more relaxed and remain more attentive and focused on what is happening within you.
- This form of self-acceptance will allow you to let go of the fears, insecurities and resistance that often undermine your ability to work more effectively with yourself.
Postures or asanas are the specific physical positions of the body used in Hatha Yoga as a foundation for the spiritual disciplines of Raja Yoga. When the physical discipline is isolated from its mental and spiritual components, it loses the integrative core of yoga. This is why Param Yoga uses asanas in combination with physical, mental and spiritual disciplines.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe asana as having two essential qualities, sthira and sukha. Sthira means steadiness or alertness. Sukha is the ability to remain relaxed, comfortable and composed. Both qualities should be equally present not just in the physical posture but must also be an integral part of the mental and emotional postures that accompany it.
The physical experience can be the beginning stage of sthira and sukha, but without the mental and emotional bodies being an integral part of that steadiness, it is not complete. Sukha applies not only to the physical postures, but also to psychic postures, those uncomfortable and awkward “postures” we must hold in our everyday life. The practice of yoga develops the inner strength so that when you are surrounded by a hurricane, you remain centered, relaxed and composed, as if you are in the eye of a storm.
When physical, mental and emotional bodies are integrated, steady and composed, it is called “the posture of consciousness,” where all bodies are harmoniously integrated in the posture of yoga. The steadiness of the body cannot occur independently of the mental and emotional states that regulate it.
When the central focus of asana is physical, there is no way to fulfill the core intention of the practice of yoga, which aspires to bring the body, mind, heart, and soul into harmonious unity. In Param Yoga, the primary focus is learning to perform the postures with awareness of the body’s limitations, steady, relaxed breathing, and precision and attention to detail, combined with mindful meditative attention. This leads to prana awakening, the stage prior to Kundalini Yoga. The final stage of Param Yoga happens when prana- shakti, that carries out all the evolutionary activities in our body is awakened and the spontaneous practice of asanas we call Meditation in Motion occur. It is a state of dynamic meditation where you experience stillness in motion.
Yoga Asana – An Introduction and Module :
The aim of this module is to enable the candidate to:
a) Learn and teach Yoga Asana
b) Understand methods and benefits Yoga Asana
c) Understand stability, health and suppleness about Asana.
d) Sit for hours in a meditative Asana
e) Therapeutic effects and uses of Asanas.
The candidate must be able to do the following:
- Standing asanas
- Sitting asanas
- Lying down asanas
- Inverse asanas
- Meditative asanas
- Relxative asanas
The instructor must ensure the candidate is able to:
- Explain and identify check points, method, duration, awareness, contra-indication and benefits of asana.
- State the meaning and definition of asana
- Explain characteristics of asana
- State aims and objective of asana.
- Explain place and seat for asana.
- Explain rules and regulations before and after doing asana
- Explain the difference between asana and exercise
- Explain classification of asana
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